Berlin, Maryland, was named the "coolest small town" in America by Budget Traveler magazine. Berlin's charm is due to planning decisions in addition to its historic main street.
The town is a tourist destination and the planning and building approach of civic leaders has brought economic development benefits, according to Smart Growth Maryland, a blog written by members of the Maryland Department of Planning:
>The charming town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has quaint streets lined by Victorian-era homes and funky businesses, a walkable environment and lots of charm.The town’s appeal did not occur by accident. With a population of just 4,500, it would be easy for Berlin to be overshadowed by its bustling neighbor on the sea, Ocean City. Yet, Berlin has re-invented itself. Forward-thinking town leaders played on its historic charm, developed new zoning to bolster local businesses, participated in state programs that helped elevate sidewalk appeal and created a slew of festivals and events that brings thousands of visitors to the town.
The visual appeal and economic success of historic downtown Berlin represents more than two decades of effort from local business owners, residents and elected officials. Thanks to zoning allowing dwellings above first-floor commercial uses, façade renovations and an emphasis on pedestrians, the Berlin central business district has prospered during an era of enclosed malls and big-box shopping centers.
Town officials invigorated Berlin’s downtown by encouraging property owners to establish businesses combined with livable spaces. Many business owners capitalized on the tax incentives afforded through a state Arts and Entertainment District designation, creating galleries, shops and studios. Others took advantage of historic designations to protect their structures and retain businesses and residences within the downtown.<
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