A Community-Driven Plan for Winter Hill

Client Challenge | Winter Hill is one of the few neighborhoods in Somerville that will not be receiving direct access to a new MBTA Green Line subway station. Winter Hill is also one of the city’s most densely populated areas with disproportionately small amounts of open space as well as limited access to daily needs. Along Broadway, the community’s historic main street, disinvestment by landowners and the acceptance of auto-oriented development patterns have negatively affected the public life and vibrance of the neighborhood.

Team Approach | Winter Hill needed a vision that would guide investment for both public and private projects. The planning process was a highly iterative process that involved not only a neighborhood design charrette but also the production of a winter holiday “Better Block”. This short term intervention involved live music, temporary bike and bus infrastructure, public art, and a community chili cook off (it was delicious). The neighborhood plan establishes several strategies and conceptual designs for how to improve key redevelopment sites, humanize several high priority streets, and create new parkland for the community to accommodate the vision for a well connected, beautiful neighborhood.

Project Impact | Not only did the tactical urbanism installation prove to the community that several of the ideas proposed during the design charrette were indeed possible, but the very act of organizing such a fun and enjoyable event established a core group of community representatives that previously had not existed. The city now has a strong community partner to help advocate for the high-quality redevelopment adopted in the neighborhood plan.

Winter Hill
Somerville, MA

City of Somerville


Principle, David Carrico, Utile,
Team Better Block

Urban Design
Public Policy
Tactical Urbanism

The proposed Winter Hill Neighborhood Plan identifies underutilized spaces for transition into mixed-use, high-density redevelopments fitting to the character of the neighborhood. With limited access to open space at present, the proposed Neighborhood Plan prioritizes an iconic new green space and public plaza. The image below shows how the historic Broadway Boulevard can be integrated with cycle tracks and protected intersections, as it is a key intersection for traveling to the Mystic River bike path.