DANVERS — Change is coming to Endicott Street.
Several businesses have opened or are planning to set up shop in the busy Danvers shopping district, and, according to Town Manager Steve Bartha, the town is looking to do whatever it can to ensure the corridor thrives.
“I can’t say what would be ideal there, but I know (the town planning and economic development office) is trying to answer that question and figure out what is the vision for the town,” Bartha said.
The Friendly Toast, a popular brunch spot with locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, recently opened its sixth location at the Liberty Tree Mall.
“It’s been great so far. We are very very pleased with how we’ve done business-wise and our team is doing great so far,” said owner Eric Goodwin.
Goodwin said the Friendly Toast has been looking to expand to the North Shore for some time now and jumped at the opportunity to move into the Liberty Tree Mall.
“We really liked Danvers in terms of the community and the town. It’s a really busy place, and we really thought it would be a great place for a Friendly Toast,” he said, adding, “We know the Liberty Tree Mall is going to be updated a few years down the road, and we are anxious to be involved in that as well. We are anxious to be a part of the Danvers community. We love to get involved in local charities, and we support different groups in the communities we work and do business in, so we are looking forward to being a part of that (in Danvers).”
Bartha said the anchor stores at the mall, including Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s, have all been doing relatively well over the past few years.
But “the inside of the mall has been struggling for some time,” he said. “And that’s pretty consistent with malls everywhere. We’ve met with Simon several times and even told them that if they share their vision for the mall, we will work with them as far as zoning goes to try and unlock what they want to accomplish.”
New businesses in the area, he said, appear to be doing well and could benefit the entire district.
“We are anxious to see how that area develops over the next several years, and we are anxious to be a part of it,” Goodwin said.
The restaurant opened earlier this month, and Goodwin said the entire staff lives on the North Shore.
“We have great employees, and we all think this is a great business community to be a part of,” he said. “We are excited to put down some roots there.”
Less than a five minute walk away, at 152 Endicott St., sits the former Denny’s, which closed back in 2016. The town hopes to breathe new life into that property as well.
“Certainly, town officials have expressed their dismay with the current state of the site,” Bartha said. “It has fallen into a state of disrepair, and certainly something needs to happen there.”
Bartha noted there is a large demand for more housing on the North Shore, and Danvers’ shopping district is an attractive place for residential housing developers thanks to to the area’s large number of restaurants, grocery stores, retail stores and medical offices. The area is zoned for commercial use, Bartha said, so the Zoning Board of Appeals would have to take special action in order to bring residential development to the area.
“In an area like that where you have a retail base and restaurants, certainly residential is a good complimentary use, but we need to be mindful of existing utilities and questions like ‘Is there adequate electricity? Is there adequate water and sewer? What would be the impact on traffic?’ etc.,” he said.
The town is hoping to study all of these areas, Bartha said. Recently, David Fields and the town’s Planning and Economic Development Office applied for several grants which would allow Danvers to conduct an economic feasibility study for the corridor.
“That process which (Fields) has undertaken,” Bartha said, “would really allow for (the town) to study what is possible there.”