Downtown Berlin Revitalization Committee aims to make Berlin a destination

Berlin Borough residents may soon notice banners and redesigned storefronts around the borough. That’s because DBRC is aiming to make the borough a destination.

The DBRC decorated the outside of Maggie’s Bake Shop with a design that would help it stand out and give it an identity. The shop opened with the updated storefront in October 2016.

Legend says that, on their way between Philadelphia and the Shore, colonial travelers riding stagecoaches would stop by the settlement that has become Berlin Borough during their journey. They would use the borough as a resting point.

Now, the Downtown Berlin Revitalization Committee is trying to convert the borough from a stagecoach to a stage. The group plans to embrace the borough’s future with a “vision for creative retail, eateries, the arts and outdoor living.”

DBRC’s main initiatives are its downtown façade program and downtown banner program.

Residents may have noticed that Maggie’s Bake Shop on South White Horse Pike got a facelift on the outside. The store was the first recipient of the group’s façade design facelift.

The building Maggie’s Bake Shop currently occupies was empty and undecorated as of July 2016. This image was taken from Google Maps.

Before the shop opened in October, the building the store is located in was comprised of plain white stone on the outside. Now, it is decorated with yellow stripes and a hanging sign that help the shop stand out on the street.

In the façade program, downtown property and business owners may apply for rehabilitation of building facades, and branding and marketing assistance. The goal of the program is to boost business downtown.

“We want to give the building an identity,” said Cindy Williams, program director for the DBRC.

The program is funded through downtown community partners, sponsors and grants in partnership with the borough.

This year, the group plans to update the exterior of four more downtown businesses. Eventually, it hopes to work its way up to redesigning 25 businesses a year.

To view the requirements and apply to the program, visit downtownberlin.com.

Another initiative the group plans to do this year is launch its downtown banner program. DBRC will manage 40 poles along the South White Horse Pike Revitalization District.

DBRC says this will increase the downtown’s visibility and impact.

All event organizers, nonprofit groups, place-based businesses and public information campaigns will be eligible to display a banner on a pole. They can promote activities and events around the area, as well as businesses.

Pole prototypes could be up in town in the very near future, with Williams saying it was ready to go. Though no solid conclusion was reached at the meeting held Tuesday, April 25, Williams said once a decision was made, they “could have the prototypes up as early as next week.”

The group also discussed several other projects it was planning more toward the end of the year.

Last year, DBRC offered holiday tours of the borough’s historic district. It plans to offer tours again this year, with Williams saying the tour was successful enough to take on annually. It also hopes to put in another float in Berlin’s annual Fourth of July parade to help spread the word.

Berlin residents may soon be able to play a personalized version of “Monopoly,” too. DBRC hopes to sell its own version of the popular board game, dubbed “Berlinopoly,” which would feature properties, street names and game pieces familiar to residents.

Len Badolato, who helped spearhead DBRC, said the group aims to be economically self-sustaining, with projects such as the banner initiative both raising awareness and bringing in more funds for the group to continue its revitalization efforts.