New Life for New Bedford’s Aging Ashley Boulevard Business District
New Bedford's Ashley Boulevard, from just before Tarkiln Hill Road, north to the point at Pa Raffa's, has struggled in recent years. One business after another has called it quits, but there are indications things may be changing.
I took a long walk through my old stomping grounds recently and was pleasantly surprised to see new life sprouting where once vibrant businesses lay dormant in recent years.
The Potting Bench, which closed its New Bedford location at 861 Ashley Boulevard, has a new owner. Soon, Local Blooms Floral & Gifts will open at that location.
A little further to the north, Fortin Electrical Contractors has moved into the space occupied by Hancock Monument Company for many years.
Another new addition at 1208 Ashley Boulevard is Play Fetch, a dog daycare business now located at the Panagakos Development property that has been empty for most of the years it has been there.
The former VFW Poirier Post is now the Glesia Peniel Church. Hey, at least it's not empty.
While signs of life are emerging on Ashley Boulevard, empty storefronts remain. Generational rather than economic forces lead to some business closings.
The area is not close enough to a major highway to attract national chain restaurants or stores, and brick-and-mortar businesses are in decline anyway.
There have been several local success stories on "The Boulevard" in recent years, such as Pub 6T5 and New Bedford Veterinary Hospital. However, other longtime business owners are believed to be waiting for the right opportunity that might allow them to retire.
Additional photos of a struggling Ashley Boulevard business district: