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From housedresses to seafood to lamps, Chestnut Hill sees a rash of new business development

After seeing a good deal of businesses close, and an influx of banks open, it looks like the Chestnut Hill section of the city is back on the road to retail and dining diversity. In fact, a number of new businesses have opened along Germantown Ave. so far this year, with many more planned. It even looks like the crown jewel at the top of the Hill, the former Borders Books, might soon open a new chapter.

Eileen Reilly, the Chestnut Hill Business Association's retail recruiter, is pumped to talk about the new businesses opening along the avenue. Earth, an eclectic store that sells garden-infused jewelry, candles, and even garden supplies tilled the soil when it opened in March. The owner of Earth, Doug Reinke, proceeded to open Linen, a bedding, bath and baby supply store in May. Not satisfied, Reinke opened a rug and lighting store called "Room Service" earlier this month, a few blocks away from the other two stores.

Reilly also boasts about a couple of "pop-up" stores that will set up shop at the old Magarity Ford dealership in time for the holiday season. One such store is Fete Noel, which is a one-of-a-kind store that vends everything from antique furniture, to toys, to prestigious jewelry, to photography. This "pop-up" store will be open for six days, beginning on Nov. 10th. Another "pop-up" store is Bali to Bala, which returns after an ultra successful debut in Chestnut Hill last year. Bali to Bala features Indonesian arts and crafts, and aims to spread awareness about Indonesian culture.

Yet, according to Reilly the list of stores and restaurants slated to open in Chestnut Hill in the next few months is even more comprehensive. The Iron Hill Brewery is currently being built where clothing stores used to be, with Reilly saying it will open right before New Year's Eve. With this in mind, the big story in Chestnut Hill will continue to be the local independent stores that are opening. A woman's apparel store called Indigo Schuy is expected to open within the next few months, while a locally themed fine dining establishment called Heirloom will begin serving up duck, seafood, and other items.

What many are anxiously looking at is the old Border's Books site at the intersection of Germantown Ave. and Bethlehem Pike. Reilly reveals that a deal is close to being reached between the seller and a client of this parcel, and that it will have an institutional use. Greg Welsh, the owner of the Chestnut Grill and a loud voice on the Business Association, went a step further and said the building will soon become a childcare center for Children of America.

For residents, shoppers, and diners in Chestnut Hill, this new flurry of business openings is surely welcome news. This is remarkable because of the lower sales tax in the surrounding suburbs. "Even though the climate is tough, the energy has changed," says Eileen Reilly. "We're on entrepreneurs brainwaves." While main streets across the region are still mired in a recession, Chestnut Hill's main street seems to have emerged from it.

Source: Eileen Reilly, Chestnut Hill Business Association
Writer: Andy Sharpe
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