Bridgewater's King Street goes through revival after arson destroys several buildings
Bridgewater's King Street is booming with business nearly two years after a fire swept through several businesses in the town's downtown core.
The fire was deemed to be arson and, in February, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to five years in jail for the crime.
There’s a for-sale sign on the lot where the fire started, but the town's mayor says the streetscape has gone through some significant changes since then.
“King Street has kind of been in that transformative stage for the last couple of years and it's like a snowball rolling down a hill it's starting to gain momentum, and we're seeing some pretty cool changes,” said Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell.
Less than two weeks ago, a brewery began welcoming customers through its doors.
The owners say they opened up on King Street because the area is becoming a hub for visitors and residents alike.
“We came looking in Bridgewater just after the fire and months before the redevelopment really started to take hold,” said George Anderson of the King Street Beer Co. “I think it’s reaching a critical mass now where it's going to be self-fulfilling in terms of the development of the street.”
A few blocks away, a diner opened one year ago. The restaurant also sells pub-grub to both breweries on the street.
Owners say they're seeing an influx of people shopping, eating and gathering along the street.
The diner provides work for one family member who loss her business in the blaze.
“My sister does all of our graphics and apparel,” says Danielle Oleshko of Jac's Burgers & Shakes. “She actually used to run Vivid Graphics down the block. Unfortunately the business was destroyed in the fire, so she was able to get back on her feet.”
The owners of another craft brewery, Adam Sarty and Devin Fraser, sense a change in the town.
“There's been a cool vibe here for the last over a year, you can feel the vibe in the town kind of just growing and you can tell just by the nightlife we're starting to have it's not just regulars that are coming in anymore, every time we're doing something it's new faces and it's just constantly growing,” said Fraser.
It’s a growth Mitchell is thrilled to see in his town, but nearly two years after the fire, he -- and everyone in the town -- are still left with one unanswered question: “There is some closure, but it'll never forget, when he was found guilty he still did not say why he did it.”
Mitchell says they'll likely never know why, but as the town continues to move forward, the mayor wants developers to know King Street is booming and open for business.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.