MANCHESTER — Businesses are looking to expand in the Millyard rather than finding bigger space elsewhere.
Heather Lavoie loves the Millyard and wants her health-care analytics company to grow there — both with more staff and square footage.
“We have had an interest to expand, and we’d love to expand right on our floor,” said Lavoie, a West Side native and president of Geneia, which occupies 9,600 square feet at 50 Commercial St.
“We’ve been working with our landlord around that,” said Lavoie, who expects to add a dozen or more Manchester workers in the next year.
The Millyard has seen many of its former textile and shoe mills renovated over the past few decades for office and high-tech companies to call home.
“There’s more interest than inventory, no question,” said Tom Farrelly, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield of New England, a commercial real estate firm.
Business people like the history and the river setting.
“It’s part of the DNA of Manchester, right?” Farrelly said.
On the north end of the Millyard, EVR Advertising recently moved to bigger digs in its building at 155 Dow St., where Fratello’s Italian Grille operates. It marks at least the third location within the same building.
“It’s kind of cool hip factor to it; our young people like working here,” said advertising agency owner Jeff Eisenberg. The latest space is in the former Labatt USA Beer Academy. Eisenberg didn’t retain the academy’s bar.
Eisenberg called it “just this combination of history and future that is just very unique.”
His agency has hung oversized historical photos of Millyard operations.
“You just think about what was going on here in the 1800s,” Eisenberg said. “The history is just unbelievable and the falls, and then you’ve got ARMI going on, high-tech.”
The development of ARMI — the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute — in the Millyard also is boosting the Millyard’s propsects. The institute now has more than 100 partners and more than $300 million in government and private investment committed. ARMI hopes to commercially produce tissue — and perhaps, one day, organs — to implant into sick and injured people.
It’s uncertain how many jobs it will create directly for the Millyard.
Farrelly called ARMI “ a great part of the story” of the Millyard.
“It has people following it closely and cheering it,” he said. “It’s going to bring a lot of good to the area when it really hits its strides.”
Farrelly said the Millyard lacks ample eateries and that it can be a challenge to navigate parking there.
In the same 19th-century building as EVR Advertising, a new owner bought condo space formerly housing Not So Plain Jane’s Salon and Spa.
Nashua couple Miri and Roi Shpindler — who previously opened Mint Bistro and Bridge Cafe in Manchester — bought the 7,818 square-foot condo, including 27 dedicated parking spaces, for $665,000.
She is talking with people who are interested in opening a hair salon or yoga studio.
“We saw it as a great opportunity to have ownership in the Millyard,” Mrs. Shpindler said. “It’s just such a thriving part of downtown.”