New businesses, apartments, logo demonstrate ‘artistic’ growth in downtown Burlington

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BURLINGTON, NC -- City officials and local business owners announced Tuesday some substantial growth to downtown Burlington.

Four new businesses and three new apartment units are ready, or nearly ready, on the single block on Front Street between Main and Spring streets.

Downtown Burlington Corporation Executive Director Anne Morris confirmed that the four new businesses are "Game Over," a comic book store, "Steam Junction," a makers space, a holistic healing practice and Strathmore Capital, a wealth management firm.

The businesses will join the coffee shop The Blend, which opened in October 2015, and Burlington Beer Works, a brewpub still in the works, on Front Street.

The three loft apartments will be located above The Blend.

Morris explained that this growth only continues what's been a trend in downtown Burlington in recent years.

"Over the past five or so years, we've added more than 30 new businesses," Morris said. "We've had at this point probably over $8 million of investment in a 16 block radius."

Ben Harris, co-founder of Steam Junction, said this is the first physical space Burlington Makers have ever had.

"A maker space is a community workshop where people can get together and work on projects," he said. "We've moved away from downtowns in America, we've gone to the malls. But now people are realizing they need to come back to have a sense of community and working together. That's what the maker movement is all about, working together. That's why we want to be in the heart of things."

Harris explained that Steam Junction will have laser cutters and engravers, 3D printers, digital sewing machines and more. Anyone in the community is able to use the facilities for personal or professional use by paying monthly dues of $40.

Core Properties and Development owns the buildings on Front Street. Co-owner Wellsley Robinson, a resident of Burlington, said restoring the buildings was personal to her.

"The damage was so substantial and severe that you could look up from the basement and see the sky," she said.

But with the buildings restored and new tenants moving in...

"It's exactly the joining of our community that I would hope for in a downtown block," she said.

In conjunction with the announcements of the apartment units and businesses, Downtown Burlington Corporation unveiled a new logo for downtown Burlington, which Morris said would be displayed on gateway signs and on banners throughout the downtown.

"I think it really conveys who we are," Morris said. "And the experience you'll have when you come down here. The new businesses really embody what our new brand is all about. We're really focusing on artistic, artisan-based businesses. Businesses that are focused on people's passions."

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