Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.14, Issue 3  

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
CMSC Board Member Gives Berlin a Second Chance at TOD   
An artist's rendering of Depot Crossing in Berlin.

A stalled commercial-office/housing development in Berlin is getting a fresh start thanks to Marty Legault, CEO of the Corporation for Independent Living (CIL) and CMSC Board member. An article in the Hartford Business Journal describes how the development located across from the Berlin Train Station was purchased by CIL's for-profit arm allowing work to begin anew on Depot Crossing with a $3.34 million construction budget. The three-story, 24,000 square foot building will have offices on the lower level, with housing on the upper floors. In keeping with CIL's mission, four of the sixteen new apartments will be targeted as affordable.


Construction originally began on the building in 2008, but work stalled and the project was foreclosed. The Berlin Land Trust subsequently bought the property in 2013 and deeded it to the town. CIL emerged as the preferred developer a month later when the development was put out to bid. Depot Road will be Berlin's first new mixed-use, transit-oriented development project being developed in conjunction with the expanded commuter rail on the New Haven/Hartford/Springfield rail line.


Click the link to read the full Hartford Business Journal article, Stalled Depot Crossing gets a reboot 

New London Revitalization Underway   


There's a lot going on in downtown New London and CMSC Designated Member New London Main Street is in the middle of it all. Executive Director Annah Perch is working to capitalize on the many wonderful initiatives underway in the City:

  • New London Main Street is working with Margaret Bodell, Director of the State's CreateHereNow program, to fill empty storefronts with artists and other creative people. Their goal is to fill six storefronts during the pilot phase, with three of these businesses taking advantage of live-work arrangements. Ms. Perch and Ms. Bodell have been meeting with downtown property owners to encourage them to negotiate leases with artists and business people willing to take a chance on the storefronts. Click here to read an article from the New London Day with more information about these efforts.    
  • Annah Perch stands with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal during the signing ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard museum.
    New London is also home to an innovative new program that teaches artists how to be better business people. The Artists Academy @ Hygienic Art is intended to help artists learn how they can both pursue their craft and have a stable income stream. The program is funded by a one-time $35,000 Champions in Action grant from Citizens Bank and was the only such award handed out in New England. The program involves twenty-five artists from southeastern Connecticut with a waiting list of about thirty more. It's these creative people that are being targeted by the CreateHereNow program. Click here to read more about the Artists Academy.   
  • Several state and local officials convened in the City recently to sign a formal agreement for the new Coast Guard museum. Governor Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, James Coleman - chairman of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, and New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio were just a few who attended the signing ceremony. The new museum will bring visitors to the waterfront as it celebrates the Coast Guard's maritime heritage.  
  • New London Main Street was also awarded a 2014 Preservation of Place (POP) grant to build their organizational capacity. Annah and her Board of Directors engaged consultants NetMark Associates to work with them to create a plan to strengthen and grow Board leadership, creating a more nimble, well-funded organization.
Spotlight on 2013 Awards of Excellence - Main Street Volunteers of the Year
Deirdre Cavanagh, New London Main Street

A former First Lady of the City of New London, Deirdre Cavanagh gives generously to New London Main Street as an extension of her love and devotion to the City. Deirdre joined the promotion committee over ten years ago, and has since helped run all sixteen of the famous New London Food Strolls. This year, during a difficult time of transition for the organization, she took the reins of the Spring Food Stroll - keeping momentum high and organizing every detail.

Congratulations, Deirdre!
Pictures from the 2013 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. We invite you to view the camaraderie and communal inspiration that was evident in the many smiling, proud faces of the awards winners and their supporters. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here.

Re-Mains of the Day 


Simsbury Main Street Partnership (SMSP) helps bring families to town with new brochure on school quality  Recognizing that a healthy downtown is supported by a healthy community, Simsbury Main Street Partnership created a beautiful new brochure describing the excellent public education available in Simsbury. SMSP worked with the Superintendent of Schools and with local Realtors to identify and address important issues that families consider when making the decision to move to the Farmington Valley. Click here to see how the brochure uses Simsbury's assets as a marketing tool to attract new residents and families.


CMSC to hold April Placemaking workshop  - Communities in Connecticut and throughout the country are thinking outside the box and implementing new tools and strategies to invigorate their downtowns and Main Streets. Join CMSC to learn how they're achieving success at our next Downtown Revitalization Institute (DRI) workshop Placemaking II: Creative Solutions for Enlivening Your Town on Friday, April 25 at The Lyceum in Hartford. Click here for more information or to register.


CMSC's 2014 Awards of Excellence to be held at Roia Restaurant in New Haven - CMSC's 2014 Awards of Excellence Gala will be held Monday, June 9 at the gorgeous Roia Restaurant in downtown New Haven. Located in the beautiful historic Taft Hotel (now apartments), Roia was created by owner-chef Avi Szapiro who oversaw a year of demolition, renovation and reconstruction to return the space to its previous beauty.

2013 Annual Report Now Available  - CMSC's FY 2013 Annual Report is now available. Click here to see highlights from the year, including new CMSC members, the award-winning launch of the Come Home to Downtown program, photos from the 2013 Awards of Excellence Gala and stories from Torrington and Waterbury on how main street revitalization comes to life.

Parking Handbook Available - Those of you who liked The Oregon Transportation & Growth Management Program's (TGM) parking handbook that we told you about in our August Downtown Update may also be interested in The Parking Handbook for Small Communities from the National Main Street Center. This handbook provides a complete review of how to plan, develop and manage parking in a small downtown.  

Green Leadership Series Kicks Off - Listen to keynote speaker Dan Esty kick off this yearlong series of forums for elected officials, municipal staff, economic development directors, planners and more. The event includes a panel discussion on the future of green initiatives. Cost is $25 and includes continental breakfast. Click here to view additional information.

Get a glimpse of the future - Demand for multifamily housing continues to grow. Join the Partnership for Strong Communities at A Glimpse of the Future, Today! on March 31 from 1-3pm at The Lyceum in Hartford. Learn how HOMEConnecticut is changing towns while gaining new ideas for your community on resident education, construction financing and design. This event is FREE and 2 CM credits for planners are pending. Click here for more information.

President's Message 

Using Destination Marketing as a Small Business Tool   

Smartly managed downtowns are ones where revitalization initiatives occur holistically, carefully building off of each other in a comprehensive approach. For example, placemaking efforts can be combined with destination marketing to maximize the promotion of local businesses. This leads to a positive economic cycle as local shops are patronized and additional revenue is reinvested in the care and maintenance of the downtown.


Simsbury Main Street Partnership, a CMSC designated member and Nationally Accredited Main Street Program, was among the first of our network to focus on this. You just read about one of their latest efforts to promote Simsbury as a destination by creating a new brochure for prospective homebuyers that highlights the quality of the public school system (above). But one of the first examples of using their placemaking events to spur activity among local businesses began long ago during their annual Talcott Mountain Music Festival, an event that brings thousands of people to town each summer. One particularly successful response occurred when local businesses used this as an opportunity to engage new customers with things like boxed picnic dinners that could be purchased and eaten at the outdoor event.

The Secret Corner destination marketing campaign helps local businesses like Collin's Diner in Canaan.


Other CMSC members are using destination marketing to promote their local businesses in a similar fashion. The Northwest Regional Planning Collaborative designed a "Secret Corner" brand, and is promoting the region with stickers in local stores. Thread City Development in Willimantic, meanwhile, helps the downtown come together for its annual Romantic Willimantic Chocolate Festival. This past February, forty local businesses enticed participants of the Chocolate Chip Stroll to stop in and browse while enjoying chocolate goodies and entertainment.


Using placemaking initiatives to create great spaces allows our downtowns to then market themselves as fun, attractive destinations. Having local businesses publicly support placemaking efforts lets visitors know these events are important while allowing the retailers to participate, either directly or indirectly. By taking a comprehensive approach to invigorating downtown the results can then far exceed any single effort or initiative.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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In This Issue
CMSC Board Member Gives Berlin a Second Chance at TOD

New London's Revitalization Underway   


Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence: Deirdre Cavanagh
Re-Mains of the Day - Simsbury Main Street Partnership brings families to town with new brochure; CMSC holds Placemaking workshop in April; 2014 Awards Gala at Roia Restaurant; 2013 Annual Report Available; Parking Handbook Available; Green Leadership Series Begins; Get a Glimpse of the Future
President's Message:
Using Destination Marketing as a Small Business Tool
Upcoming Events

Green Leadership Series

Gateway Community College

March 25

Register & More Info 


CMSC Member Networking Event

Downtown Waterbury 

March  27


A Glimpse of the Future, Today!

The Lyceum, Hartford 

March 31

Register & More Info 


CMSC DRI - Placemaking II

The Lyceum, Hartford

Register & More Info 

April 25 


CMSC 2014 Awards of Excellence Gala

Roia Restaurant

New Haven 

June 9 

Photo credit:
We celebrate Mark Pellegrini, AICP for his efforts to support downtown revitalization 


The Town of Manchester has benefitted greatly from having Mark Pellegrini as their Director of Planning and Economic Development. He has spent nearly three decades helping guide the town's development, working on everything from small subdivisions to super regional shopping centers; from neighborhood zoning disputes to Downtown Revitalization. He has also served on countless boards, commissions, agencies, committees and groups with great dedication and persistence.


Mark also brings his professional acumen to the CT Chapter of the American Planning Association, having served as President and Executive Committee member, while acting as a mentor to many of Connecticut's planners and leaders, as well as to his own staff in Manchester. Recognizing his many achievements, CCAPA presented him with the Bruce Hoben Distinguished Service Award in 2012.


Mark's efforts have helped guide Manchester's growth and development for nearly 30 years.



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