MERIDEN — Lisa Mesite noticed the decorated storefront at 1-3 Colony St. and couldn’t resist stopping in.
“I drive by here everyday,” Mesite said. “I said ‘Oh my God, it came out nice.’ It’s about time they did something here. It’s like New York City.”
The redesign of the storefront by floral design artist Jilll Shea, was part of an effort to spur the imagination of potential investors visiting the city Thursday.
The Making Meriden Business Center in partnership with CT Main Street Center, the city and others will host a downtown preservation and development conference Thursday at the Silver City Ballroom, 16 Colony St.
The event is part of CT Main Street Center’s Legacy City program, which features events in downtown areas. State and local officials, including the mayor, city manager and economic development director, are scheduled to attend.
“We wanted to do something to get our legacy city to stand out,” said Lisa Biesak, a CT Main Street fellow who works in the Making Meriden Business Center. “This event is all about inspiring others to imagine all the possibilities that Meriden’s downtown transit oriented district can offer...”
Making Meriden Business Center Business Recruitment Specialist David Cooley will moderate a panel discussion called “Re-imagining Downtown Meriden.” The panel includes Mark Masselli, president of Community Health Center Inc.
David Kooris, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, will address ways investors can capitalize on Opportunity Zone status. Julie Carmelich, of the state Historic Preservation Office, will talk about National Historic District Designation.
Biesak worked with local and regional artists and others to put together the downtown “Imagine This!” walking tour.
Sandy Nieves, owner of Enchanted Soapstress, which makes and retails organic bath and body products, has set up shop at 1-3 Colony St. Nieves would like to see more shared craft spaces.
“Instead of going to other towns, and renting space we could be here,” Nieves said. “A lot of crafters could benefit from that.”
At 5 Colony St., artist-in-residence Apollo Maldonado will host a tour of the Artists Colony, while artist Kelly Triola will live paint a banner for the chain-link fence in front of 9-11 Colony St.
At 24 Colony St., Tim Moore of the Blue Haus Group will conduct a ping pong event. Musician Pat Coffey will perform acoustic guitar music at 21 Colony St.
By late Wednesday, 96 people had committed to attending the conference.
“Anytime you have positive exposure it’s good potential, ” Economic Development Director Joe Feest said. “People can look at projects ready to be done and at what could be done. It leads to opportunities. We’ve been putting a lot of hours into this. It’s the biggest event yet, but it won’t be the last.”