hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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April 3, 2014

Downtown growth gains strength through variety

Take a few restaurants and lounges hungry for customers.

Toss in dozens, even hundreds of apartments and condos that bring new residents to the area.

Add in a couple of new twists — a tattoo parlor and even a boxing club.

Top it off with a couple of truly different businesses — such as the recently opened one that lets customers sip wine and beer while learning to paint artistically.

It all adds up to downtown Haverhill — the new downtown Haverhill.

The heart of the city has been resurrected with its popular restaurant row and factories-converted-to-housing in recent years. That boosted the economy, from creating jobs to bringing more tax money to the city to bringing in a new customer base living right in the downtown.

It also set the base for an economic comeback.

But what is furthering the new growth is creativity — things like merchants working together to offer special promotions and offbeat businesses moving in.

The latest example is The Paint & Wine Lounge on Wingate Street in the arts district. (See story, Page 1.)

The shop brings more variety to the downtown, a place where people can do something different from having a bite to eat or listening to a band.

Where else in the city can you sip a glass of your favorite wine while getting tips on improving your painting skills?

Adults can enjoy a night out and receive a guided painting lesson while sipping wine, beer, soda, juice or other refreshments, while kids can have some fun painting on Saturday mornings.

“My daughter-in-law and daughter had a friend who went to one in Colorado and talked about it,” owner Shawna Kelley said about the concept. “We thought about it and it seemed possible to open a lounge of our own.”

The business is based on a concept that started in the south and is catching in this part of country.

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