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Winooski's downtown goes through a renaissance - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Winooski's downtown goes through a renaissance

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WINOOSKI, Vt. - It's hard to miss Misery Loves Company not just because of its prime location on the Winooski roundabout, but also because of the smell of comfort food coming from the kitchen.

"We really just want to have a fun place for people to come in, have a great meal," said Laura Wade, who owns the restaurant.

Wade opened the restaurant in 2012, a time when Winooski was a community on the edge of transition.

"We just really liked the spirit of the town. It's very small town but there's a lot going on," said Wade.

Winooski was once a thriving workers' town, the hub being the old Champlain Mill until it shut down back in the 1950s.

And over the last 10 years the town has been working hard to bring business back. At the center of the revitalization is the downtown area.

But filling empty store fronts wasn't easy. Now a multitude of unique restaurants and bars have popped up.

"As I spent a little more time here and explored more I thought wow, this is a really happening place and I think there's a lot of potential still," said Craig Mcgaughan, who owns Oak 45.

Mcgaughan grew up in Vermont and says the Winooski he knows now is not the Winooski he remembers. It's gaining the nickname the Brooklyn of Burlington.

"I think organically just the businesses that chose to open here, really good food, unique, they just all complimented each other rather than competed," said Mcgaughan.

And people don’t just want to eat in Winooski, they want to live here to. There has been a surge of housing development and there's more to come.

"There’s a lot of development plans right now in Winooski, continuing not only on the east side where the TIF district is, but moving over to the west side where a couple of new projects have been proposed," said Mayor Mike O'Brien, D-Winooski.

O'Brien says in the past couple of years there have been more than 300 new housing units added and they don't stay empty for long.

"The vacancy rate, yeah, you know in the county, it's very low and in Winooski it’s probably under 2 percent," said O'Brien.

So with places to live and places to eat city officials are now pushing retail.

Jenny Andrews opened the doors to downtown Winooski's newest shop Thursday. It's a vintage shop called Sloane Mercantile.

"We don’t have retail in Winooski! So I'm filling a need," said Andrews. "I wanted to be a part of what's happening and its goose bump worthy; it's awesome."

Starting Thursday and going all through the weekend is Winooski's Waking Windows music festival which will bring more than 100 bands from all over to the area to perform inside many of the downtown businesses. It’s an event sure to further Winooski's cultural revival.
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