After several years of shuttered windows, things are moving again at 50 Main Street in Montpelier.
Amy Leventhal, the owner of Studio Zenith, leads a noontime, boot camp-style work out, one of the many classes she offers at her new studio.
"I've been a personal trainer for seven years. I've built up my entirely own clientele, so I have about 300 people in and out every month before this space. So, I just needed a space for people to come into," Leventhal said.
Leventhal's business is a forerunner of more than half-a-dozen new businesses that have taken up residency in recent months.
Most of the new ventures have something in common-- they're all properties owned by local real estate magnate Jeff Jacobs. Jacobs, who has a long history of rubbing some tenants the wrong way, owns 20 properties here. And over the past several years, many of the more prominent ones on Main and State streets have gone vacant.
"I think it's a really difficult thing, a challenge. Particularly here where it appeared to be adequate demand for the properties and they just weren't-- for whatever reason-- being rented," Montpelier Mayor John Hollar said.
But in the past year, with many of the daily duties of the family real estate company now in the hands of Jacobs' son, Jesse, the downtown has become an incubator of new ventures. From a handmade chocolate shop and a popular Thai eatery, to a second branch of the Asiana House set to open soon in the former Chittenden Bank building. Despite a sluggish economy, the younger Jacobs has been aggressive in coming up with partnerships.
"I guess we've had to be a little more creative nowadays than we had had to be in the past. The internet wasn't as much of a giant, box stores didn't exist up the block, there's was no T.J. Maxx, there was no Wal-Mart, people weren't driving to Williston. So, yeah, the climate has changed and we've been trying to change with it," said Jesse Jacobs of Montpelier Property Management.
Whether the criticisms of his father are warranted or not, Jacobs credits his dad with the Montpelier of today.
"I don't think you can build a career as long as he's had without breaking some eggs and making people upset," Jesse Jacobs said.
Many of the new tenants like what they see.
"He helped us arrive at this spot and anything we've needed he's responded extremely well and we're really happy," said Wally Delia of Cocoa Bean.
"I deal with Jesse and he's just wonderful to deal with," Leventhal said.
"I think that's terrific news and I think the landowner is going to be making money off his property, it's going to make Montpellier more vibrant, so I think everybody should come out ahead on this one," Hollar said.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:06 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:06:03 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:45 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:45:20 GMT
State police are looking for the person responsible for stealing a school bus and taking it for a joyride in northern Vermont. Troopers say the 2014-model bus belonging Newport City Elementary SchoolMore >>
Police say the school bus belonging to the Newport City Elementary School was taken for a joy ride Friday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 02:10:53 GMT
A fatal accident in Lyndon Saturday. It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon on Route 122. Police say 76-year-old Gerda Blaszczyk of St. Johnsbury swerved to avoid an animal. Her car travelled up anMore >>
Police say the driver swerved to avoid an animal.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:03:45 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is touring the state this weekend with a special guest. Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. TheMore >>
Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:56:03 GMT
Saturday marked a new beginning for Castleton State College students. "Were all gathered here, getting fired up, having a good time," explained Castleton graduate, David Carrier. The 500 graduates hadMore >>
It's graduation day for the class of 20-13 at Castleton State College. And just for the occasion, the college invited back an alumnus with a strong connection to the school.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:14 GMT
Young bikers were learning the rules of the road in South Burlington Saturday. Kids who brought their bikes to the Dorset St. Park received free checks for their brakes, chains, and tires. Helmets alsoMore >>
and much more... making sure kids are safe before they hit the roads this summer.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:49:26 GMT
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Karen Trayah and her dogs enjoyed the sights, sounds, and of course smells of a festival for fidos. "It's called Woofstock, however, this is our 1st year doing it here at theMore >>
Making sure our furry friends have a place to call home.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>