Developer Byron Hathorne joined us to talk about all of the commercial activity going on in downtown White River Junction.  We discovered why we can’t easily find a parking space in downtown WRJ anymore!!
 
Our speake, Byron Hathorn. 
 
Byron grew up on a farm in Hartford, VT, and remembers well as a child going into downtown White River Junction in its “hay days” during the ‘50’s and early ‘60’s.  He became friends with David Briggs when they were both 4 years old.  He and David joke about the “overnight success” that down town WRJ has become which actually took 40 years. 
 
Byron recalled David’s parents, Fred and Bonnie Briggs, who owned a clothing store and sporting goods store in the down town.  He recounted David’s return to WRJ and his trials and travails after purchasing the Coolidge Hotel.  He also cited people such as Mike Davidson, who prefers to repurpose older existing buildings, and Bill Bittinger, who has done several important downtown projects. 
 
He noted the changes that have occurred within the downtown.  Among them the resurgence of restaurants, apartment buildings, the Center for Cartoon Studies, his two new (he purchased the Railroad Station in 1995) projects – a multi-purpose office building and a new assisted living facility adjacent to the new Northern Stage complex.
 
He reported that the town hopes to build a parking garage on land that it owns adjacent to the old KofC hall and Northern Stage. 
 
(Editor’s note:  he didn’t touch on the new court house, nor the two new bridges – one the connector between WRJ and West Lebanon, the DEW project on Bill Josler’s former property, and the new building that LISTEN developed, all of which greatly enhance that entry point to downtown.)
 
 
He also gave credit to Matt Bucci and his projects, one of which is the Tip Top Building.  He reminded the club that Brooke Ciardelli had brought Northern Stage here from Burlington 20 years ago. 
 
Byron stated that without reservations you probably won’t get into the restaurant of your choice in downtown on Friday or Saturday evenings.  He also commented on the local political environment being extremely helpful to the redevelopment.  He is very pleased that at long, long last there is a parking problem in the down town.  A great “overnight” success story.
 
President Steve thanked Byron for joining us and presented him a book which will be donated by the club in his name to the Children’s Room at the Kilton Library.