Recommendations for Improving Downtown Andover

by | Jul 21, 2021

Associate Planner Tony Collins Reveals Recommendations for Improving Downtown Andover

Goal is to Shift Downtown Outdoor Space to People rather than Cars

Associate Planner Tony Collins reveals recommendations for improving Downtown Andover at morning event. Several Town employees and consultants were on hand to speak with residents.

The Town of Andover held a Coffee with a Planner event on Wednesday, July 21st, from 8:30 to 10am in front of Old Town Hall. The public was invited to stop by for coffee and conversation and to see recommendations for improving Downtown Andover posted on a sign.

Part of the Local Rapid Recovery Plans Program for Downtowns

Andover has been participating in the Baker-Polito Local Rapid Recovery Plans (LRRP) program. The program’s goals are to revitalize downtowns, respond to COVID-19 effects on local businesses, and prioritize actions and strategies. The very, helpful Town of Andover Rapid Recovery Consultant — Emily Keys Innes of Innes Associates, Ltd. — was there to answer questions and connect with the downtown community. I hope to do a follow-up post with her soon.

As part of the LRRP program, Andover surveyed businesses, and collected community data from self-directed downtown walks on June 2nd and the 24th. From that activity, the Planning Department compiled recommendations for supporting Downtown Andover businesses. They include marketing strategies for local businesses, creating walk/bike connections to the Downtown to reduce vehicular traffic, and opening up more spaces for outside dining, events, and retail display.

Scroll down to see Coffee with a Planner photos, the recommendations and to take the Planning Department’s Andover Favorite Places Survey.

Free Wi-Fi at Old Town Hall

On a side note, I was thrilled to see that there is free Wi-Fi at Old Town Hall — even when standing out in front!

Free Wi-Fi at Old Town Hall in Downtown Andover

Emily Keys Innes
Rapid Recovery Consultant for the Town of Andover

Emily, Principal at Innes Associates Ltd., sets up before the event.

Emily Keys Innes of Innes Associates Ltd sets up for the Coffee with a Planner Event

Joyce Losick-Yang
Town of Andover Sustainability Coordinator

Stay tuned for a future post with Joyce who is planning Andover’s first Climate Summit!

Joyce Losick-Yang Sustainability Coordinator

Elyse Cote
Planning Department Intern

Andover High School graduate and rising junior at Holy Cross, Elyse is studying Sustainability and Urban Planning.

Andover Planning Department Intern

Stephen Grabowski
Energy Efficiency Specialist

Stephen works at Energy Source  and partners with local businesses to help them cut energy costs. He can be reached at 207-952-2230.

Stephen Grabowski energysource


Recommendation Goals

On a sign separate from the recommendations, the Planning Department identified the recommendation goals:

  • Increase the number of people walking and biking Downtown Andover to support local businesses.
  • Address unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially younger residents.
  • Link neighborhoods to Downtown Andover with better sidewalks, bike lanes, or shared streets.
  • Shift downtown outdoor space to people rather than cars.


Coffee with a Planner Recommendations

Below are the recommendations (broken into three categories: Public Realm, Revenue & Sales, and Tenant Mix) revealed at the Coffee with a Planner Event.

Click on a tab to see the recommendations for that category.

Improve pedestrian and bicycle connections between the neighborhoods and the Downtown.

  • Improve sidewalk connections from neighborhoods, including crosswalks with appropriate level of signalization/warning.
  • All crosswalks should have ramps.
  • Improve bicycle connections from neighborhoods which may include sharrows and/or painted lanes.
  • Extend street tree network to ensure sidewalks are comfortable for pedestrians in hot weather.
  • Install benches at appropriate points to encourage less-mobile residents to walk to downtown.
  • Develop an inventory of current wayfinding signs and evaluate the information provided.
  • Develop a signage strategy that encourages people to walk or bike from homes to local businesses.
  • Develop signage to encourage people to park once in lots and walk to destinations.
  • Incorporate Andover’s history and public art into the wayfinding program to reinforce its unique identity.


  • Develop joint marketing campaign and consider marketing clusters of businesses (food, clothing, family-oriented).
  • Develop a downtown business association that includes businesses within walking distance of Main Street.
  • Encourage local arts and history groups to become involved in branding and public art installations on private property.
  • Consider a “locals shop local” event with incentives for people who walked or biked to Downtown.


  • Work with Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce (and its subsidiary, Andover Chamber of Commerce) and local commercial brokers to identify businesses that address a mix of needs when spaces become vacant.
  •  Consider tax relief for start-up businesses.
  • Work with landlords to offer reduced rents for desired new businesses for a defined period to allow businesses a growth period without need to relocate.
  • Develop on-line directory of businesses to understand which new businesses might be complementary to existing ones.
  • Work with tenants to develop negotiating skills for discussions with landlords.


Take the Andover Favorite Places Survey!

At the event, the Town was inviting people to take the Andover Favorite Places Survey using the below barcode. The  goal of collecting this data is for Andover to identify where and how to create new types of public spaces. You should be able to scan a barcode below to access the survey or click here to access the survey.

Andover Favorite Places Survey


  1. Dave

    Minimize the amount of space the post office has in the old town hall, it doesn’t require half the space they use behind the counter. Turn the 1st floor into a few retail or food spots ala Fanuel Hall and put a small common area with tables and chairs for downtown shoppers. The upstairs hall can become what it was made to be and be used for more mainstream weekly music performances, acts, plays, etc…That will anchor the downtown and will be a draw for miles around all you need is a good manager.
    While the hall is small there it can easily be filled to capacity with people willing to spend enough for a ticket to to support and attract a mainstream act in such a small venue.


      Great ideas Dave! ❤️ the idea of retail & food spots in Old Town Hall. Would also like the front of Old Town Hall more conducive to people gathering. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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