Cumberland is looking at what’s being called a mini urban bazaar for its downtown.
The development would function as a kind of incubator for very small businesses.
“It’s quite unique and a little bit different,” senior planner Karin Albert told council recently.
At the April 12 meeting, members of council weighed the merits of the idea. The location at 3274 Third St. is in the heritage conservation area downtown, so the request before council was for a heritage alteration and variance application.
“It fits the character of the downtown core in Cumberland really well, I believe,” Albert said
She described it as a “mini urban bazaar” or hub. The plan is construct the bazaar on an L-shaped site behind the existing Trugreen Cannabis store and next to Randall’s Autobody.
“This looks pretty cool,” said Coun. Sean Sullivan. “I’m interested in seeing this further.”
There will be three small spaces for artisan or incubator-type businesses that might not have the financial means to rent a whole storefront space. There is also green space, bike parking and a small community stage proposed for the location. The staff report notes the design takes into account physical distancing for an outdoor setting with good air ventilation, which will allow businesses to operate under the current pandemic conditions.
There were some questions from council about parking, though Albert said the parking requirements would be low because they are set based on square footage for commercial space.
In general, council members were enthusiastic about the idea.
“I think this would be as asset to Cumberland,” said Coun. Gwyn Sproule.
Coun. Vickey Brown agreed and particularly liked the addition of green space but brought up the need to ensure accessibility for the site as well as parking.
Coun. Jesse Ketler said the plan looked like a “fantastic use of space” downtown, while Mayor Leslie Baird said it sounded like it would provide an opportunity for people who might want to start a small business but are not quite sure about getting started.
Council agreed to refer the application to the heritage committee for comment as well as require the applicant to host a meeting, either outdoors or online, to get input into the proposal.