The plan seeks to provide a strong identity to the downtown.
While prominent landmarks such as the Arrigoni Bridge, the church steeples and the Middlesex Mutual office tower do exist, the downtown lacks a strong sense of place. There is no clear system of visual signage that ties the whole of downtown, nor does the downtown exude a distinct image. To a certain extent, the North End does maintain a certain character but this character fails to permeate to other areas within downtown.
Another significant weakness is the lack of visually defining limits of Downtown. Downtown contains numerous features, which could enhance the visual image and lend articulation if developed appropriately. The plan seeks to identify these features and proposes interventions to enhance them.
Downtown Middletown has a distinct history dating back to 1651.
Its character remains due to the presence of historic buildings along Main Street. Though the historic buildings have been earmarked for preservation, the downtown does not specify design controls on new construction or rehabilitation of existing buildings in proximity to historic buildings.
Regulating the built form in downtown is important to ensure that any new construction does not engulf older buildings and destroy the historic character. This regulation need not necessarily require rigid adherence to restoration standards. The regulation should encourage building rehabilitation that respects the distinctive architectural quality of each structure while adapting it to meet contemporary commercial or residential requirements.
The guidelines should address:
Acceptable store fronts
Approved siding material
Cornices and other architectural details
Removal of incompatible signs
Replacement or highlighting of trim
Selection of appropriate colors
Window and door types
The zoning regulations should include these design guidelines and the Preservation Board should be expanded to act as an advisory design review committee to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Furthermore the Preservation Board should offer preliminary design services to building owners.