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Award of Excellence

Town of Berlin

Award of Excellence – Town of Berlin

Economic Development in Kensington Village

Managing a vibrant downtown is complex work, requiring consistent effort and tireless commitment. This award honors CMSC members – the people, communities and organizations – whose exceptional efforts are contributing to thriving downtowns across the state.

Farmington Avenue in Berlin is a very non-traditional Main Street, as it’s not just a state highway but also serves as a major vehicular passageway.  In 2019, Berlin joined the CT Main Street Program and named this area Kensington Village through a local contest.  At the same time, the state and federal investment into CT Rail as Berlin and the new Berlin Train Station began the shift in the area.  This brought about Steele Center, an $18 million mixed-use project developed by Southington-based Newport Realty Group.  Steele Center is being constructed on formerly town-owned land that shares a property line with the train station property.  When complete in 2024, Steele Center will boast over 60 apartments, 15,000 square feet of commercial space, and become the core to this new village center.  These two major investments have spurred additional investment in the form of new businesses including Coles Road Brewing, Provision State Coffee, new restaurants and a renewed spirit of entrepreneurship.

How Berlin is utilizing the Four Point Approach to improve their downtown:

Kensington Village has become the place to be in Central Connecticut!  The incredible amount of new and growing businesses (during COVID) have created an Economic Vitality not seen in this area of Berlin for many decades.  In fact, there is a shortage of space on Farmington Avenue for new firms, so the brand new buildings at Steele Center are eagerly awaited for occupancy.  Promotion has been an important key to this area as they hold a few events every year to bring people to the area.  The most popular and successful one is their Halloween Trick or Treat.  In only their 4th year, they had over 70 business give out candy and close to 500 participants who dressed up and enjoyed the day.  In addition, they held a number of events with outside groups including CREW and the CT Homebuilders Association to highlight the forward progress in the area including.  Design is something that has not been focused on, but an effort is planned for 2023-2024 to add decorative and functional benches along Farmington Avenue to give people a spot to sit while providing something for local artists to use to show off their creativity.  A core group of business and property owners have been the driving force behind the success of the Kensington Village.  This organic, ground-up approach has been key to helping the Town of Berlin in making decisions on use of marketing dollars as well as the best use of the time of Town staff.

How CMSC is influencing their efforts:

Says Berlin’s Chris Edge: “CMSC has been a valuable resource as they were instrumental when discussions began in 2018 and 2019 on creating a Main Street Program in town.  In partnership with the Greater New Britain Foundation for Public Giving, the Town of Berlin and CMSC, we received a grant which helped us to work together to look at the area and determine if a Main Street Approach would work in town.  Thankfully, the work and research done laid the groundwork for where we are today.  The programs (both in person and virtually) have helped me personally to bring ideas to our Kensington Village, as well as to spur conversations on where we are, where we are headed, and ways to get there.  We are not there yet, but hope to have a separate non-profit set up for the Kensington Village which will be run and managed by the property owners and businesses that call it home.”

View Berlin’s Story

  • Berlin’s Economic Developer Chris Edge is joined by CMSC’s Michelle McCabe and Pam and Kyle Zinn, proprietors of Provision State Coffee, a new coffee shop in Kensington Village.

  • Chris is congratulated by CMSC Board member (and Berlin resident) Kathy Nanowski.

  • View our awards video describing how Berlin has spent several years laying the groundwork for Kensington Village’s success. 

  • CMSC’s Carl Rosa talks about Kensington Village’s success and how it’s the result of incremental achievements. 

  • Berlin’s Economic Development Director Chris Edge shared Berlin’s story of how they revitalized the Kensington Village area.

  • Congratulations to Berlin on your Award of Excellence!

  • Chris take a moment to thank CMSC for their assistance, including our 2023 Founder’s Award winner Kim Parsons-Whitaker, who assisted Berlin with their efforts during her time at CMSC.

    With Thanks to Our Awards Sponsors

    Main Street Partners

    Main Street Partner

    Main Street Partner

    Main Street Partner

    Main Street Supporters

    Main Street Supporter

    Main Street Supporter

    Main Street Supporter

    Main Street Supporter

    Main Street Supporter

    Main Street Supporter

    Main Street Supporter

    Connecticut Main Street Center

    P.O. Box 270
    Hartford, CT 06141

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