It's a credit to William Thibeault that he sees potential in redeveloping the historic Gloucester Safe Deposit and Trust Company building on the eastern corner of Main and Duncan streets, not for just for more office and/or residential space, but for a potential new restaurant and retail businesses as well.
Indeed, the idea of that building becoming, after all these years, a more vibrant commercial property at an important crossroads in the city's downtown should excite officials as well. For this is one piece of development that, if it comes to fruition, should breathe more life into a revitalizing downtown.
It's been more than a year since Thibeault, who has local ties with a house near Wingaersheek Beach, actually acquired the 132-year-old former bank building from George and Joanne Levantis, who also lived on the top floor. And while Thibeault and his fiancee, Annie Fonzo, have carried out a significant rehabbing of the structure, it's obvious that the building is not going to burst open with activity anytime real soon.
But the fact that Thibeault says he's looking to steer the property toward a fine restaurant and retail tenants is a positive step that the city and its newly growing community and economic development department should welcome with open arms.
The 189 Main St. building, which sits next door to the police station and Gloucester District, is among those that — along with the Brown's Mall and especially the still-glistening and renovated BankGloucester building across the street — help to welcome visitors to the commercial heart of Main Street once they get beyond the Walgreen's plaza and the institutional facilities. That alone gives Thibeault's building an important retail role that can help boost traffic for other Main Street businesses as well.
Main Street has made some important strides forward in recent years, with merchants taking on a greater role in coordinating downtown activities, and events like the summer block parties giving Main Street a spotlight it has always deserved.
A redevelopment of the old bank building — along with finding some appropriate use for the old Empire building as well — are two of the missing links to a full Main Street revitalization. And the city should indeed help make his project become reality.