New Pilot Program to Revitalize Downtown Waterbury

By Ilana Gold
|  Friday, Jan 11, 2013  |  Updated 10:31 PM EDT
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Officials from the town of Waterbury are working on an ambitious plan to revitalize the downtown area.

A lot of buildings could get a complete overhaul.

"We do need more people," said Lakeram Nankoo.  He owns a clothing store in Downtown Waterbury and wanted more customers.

"I depend on more foot traffic here," he added. 

Nankoon also owns the entire building attached to his store, and wanted to fill up the top floors. They have been empty for more than a decade, but Nankoon didn't know where to start with fixing it up. 

"Finance...it's a problem too," he admitted.
 
The empty buildings above the first floor are common across this area, and the goal was to turn them into apartments for young professionals. 

"They could be an economic engine for our downtown district," said Carl Rosa with Main Street Waterbury.
 
The Connecticut Main Street Center decided to start a pilot program in Waterbury to make that happen.  It planned to choose a few buildings, and teach the owners how to turn the places around. 

"This will give them ideas on architects, code issues, financial resources, and get investment partners," Rosa added.
 
If the trial apartments become a reality, other building owners could follow this model, and make changes too.

"We all could step up in the years to come," said Lakeram Nankoo. 

Currently, there aren't many places in downtown for people to live.  If people move in, they might spend money at the shops downstairs and boost the economy.

"Foot traffic...the more chances you have of making a dollar or two more," Nankoon added.
 
The pilot program will start in a few weeks, and should last a year.  It's also happening in Manchester and Torrington.
 
 

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