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Consultant hired for town-grown study of Amherst neighborhoods, economy

U3 Advisors, which will work in partnership with Corneil Collaborative of Carlisle and The Cecil Group of Cambridge, was hired Wednesday to undertake the $60,000 town-gown study following a recommendation from the Town-Gown Steering Committee and an endorsement by UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Amherst Town Manager John Musante.

Subbaswamy said in a statement that having U3 handle this study shows a commitment by UMass and Amherst to work as partners.

“They bring the expertise and experience required to help us develop a shared strategy around housing and economic development opportunities,” Subbaswamy said.

The study is jointly funded, with the town approving its share at annual Town Meeting last year. “This represents an historic town and university collaboration and partnership to develop a housing and economic development plan that will help us reach our full potential as a thriving college town,” Musante said.

U3 was chosen from a group of five consultants, three of which were interviewed by the committee in late winter. The consultant will work with the steering committee, which has representation from town and university officials, in reviewing areas where the town and university master plans coincide, where they may be in conflict and where opportunities may have been missed.

The consultants will also examine best practices in other college communities.

A specific housing initiative will focus on how to develop and determine sites for market-rate and affordable units for students, families and other residents by determining the demand and long-term objectives for both the university and town.

The economic development component of the study will review how to create jobs and commercial activity, and how university research can be used to start businesses and bring technologies and discoveries to the marketplace.

The study is expected to be completed in about four months.

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