282 Berlin Mall Road
Berlin, VT 05602
CHALLENGING MALL ENVIRONMENT
The Berlin Mall in Berlin, VT represented an entirely different sort of challenge for the New Jersey-based developers. The Berlin Mall boasts thriving anchors in Walmart (one of only five in Vermont), Kohl’s which opened in March 2016, and the more recently added junior anchor Planet Fitness in December 2017. Despite strong-performing anchors however, the Mall’s inline tenants have experienced mixed results. Heidenberg Properties was convinced that in order to survive long term in this challenging environment, a new approach was required.
INNOVATIVE DEVELOPMENT SOLUTION
Taking advantage of the property’s size (over 65 acres), proximity to major highways such as Routes 89 and 62, and major employers such as the Central Vermont Medical Center, Heidenberg Properties Group entered into a unique partnership with Dousevicz, Inc. to develop 98 units of Independent, Assisted Living and Memory Care units on one of the Mall’s outlots. By adding a residential component located on land adjacent to the existing mall buildings, the developer would be taking its first step towards creating a vibrant town center, where people of all ages live, work and play.
While the partnership was memorialized prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the partners received their official Act 250 Permit just weeks before the pandemic hit. While adjusting to the “new normal”, Dousevicz, Inc., obtained its Vermont construction permit for Chestnut Place (the official name of the development) in May and commenced construction in June 2020. By Q1 2022, Chestnut Place will open and residents will be moving in.
Capitalizing on the momentum of Chestnut Place, the Town of Berlin sought to obtain a “New Town Center” designation from the State of Vermont’s Downtown Development Board for the mall property, with the hopes of creating a walkable, pedestrian-friendly center that may include other housing, office and community uses. Concluding a multi-year process, the mall property was awarded the designation on April 12, 2021. Presently, Heidenberg Properties is negotiating two additional development opportunities for mall outlots including a national restaurant chain and a multi-unit affordable housing development.
A NEW TOWN CENTER
The Berlin Mall has historically demonstrated its value as a place to shop to both retailers and the residents of central Vermont. Its retail uses have now been expanded to include grocery, department stores and fitness, and is now in the process of expanding its commitment to health and wellness through the independent, assisted living and enhanced memory care offerings of Chestnut Place. The Berlin Mall sits at unique tipping point, and by proving the site’s utility as a place to live, work and receive care, it is well-positioned to continue the property’s evolution into a true town center with additional residential, municipal and retail uses.