Berlin’s Main Street Corridor All Filled Up

BERLIN — With the addition of three new businesses this spring, Berlin’s Main St. is officially full.

Town representatives were enthusiastic about what having a Main St. without any commercial vacancies means for Berlin.

“Now we begin what I call the ‘Early Years of the Berlin Renaissance,’” said Mayor Gee Williams.

The last four years have seen a surge of businesses setting up shop in Berlin. According to Economic and Community Development Director Michael Day, there has been a net gain of 21 new businesses in the downtown area since June 2008, with nine businesses leaving but 30 fresh operations moving in.

“Since 2008, the downtown has seen a net gain of 84 jobs,” said Day.

Boosting the downtown will be three new businesses that will soon be moving into the last openings on Main St.

Zenna Wellness Studio, which will feature zumba, will be located at 10 South Main St., while The World of Toys will be moving into 10 North Main St. A candy store will round out the list at 16 North Main St.

None of the shops have a set opening date as of yet though it’s most likely they will open their doors this summer.

With Main St. full, Day revealed that there are only two more properties in the downtown area available for lease. Day expects those two spots to disappear in short order.

“The good news is we’re full. The bad news is we’re full,” he joked.

Once downtown is at capacity, Day promised that there will still be opportunities for business expansion in Berlin. He pointed to areas across Route 50, which recently were approved to receive water and sewer services from the town, as new development goals.

And even when filled, Day asserted that the downtown won’t be ignored.
“It’s never done downtown,” he said.

Besides attracting new business, a big part of economic stability comes from retaining and promoting existing business, according to Day. The town hosts a variety of events throughout the year, all aimed at bringing visitors downtown.

“Town events are an economic driver for this town,” he said.

While events like the New Years’ Eve Ball Drop, May Day Play Day and Octoberfest have been added in the last two years, Day confirmed that the town is not planning on adding much more in the near future.

The focus is now expected to shift toward enhancing current events and opening them to new markets, such as youth.

“We’re more of an adult downtown,” Day said.

A future goal will be to make Berlin more appealing to young people with plans to bring a production of Romeo and Juliet to the town’s streets in September in the works, among other strategies.

According to Williams, Berlin is in a better spot now than it has been for decades. Most of that success, he continued, is owed to the cooperation of government and business and the attitudes of individual shop owners.