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News & Press: Lodging News

Former shoe plant in Berlin eyed as hotel site

Thursday, June 9, 2016  
Posted by: Emily Owens
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Former shoe plant in Berlin eyed as hotel site
By John Koziol

The North Country got some good economic news Thursday when local businessman Bob Chapman announced that he had three tenants signed up for his former paper mill property in Groveton, and that he was looking for someone interested in building a hotel here on the site of the former Converse and Bass shoe plants.

From about the mid 1940s through 1979, the Massachusetts-based Converse Shoe operated its Granite State division in Berlin, on an 11-acre site on Jericho Road.

One of Berlin’s largest employers, with some 1,200 workers, the plant — whose products included the signature Chuck Taylor model — closed due to pressure from overseas competitors and a decision by the company’s management to concentrate on “high-performance footwear” rather than the rubber-bottomed canvas sneaker that had been its mainstay.

The Bass Shoe Company then occupied the space until 1987, but it has been dormant ever since.

Last year, Chapman, who lives in nearby Milan, bought the property from the city, which had taken it by tax lien and late last month Chapman’s demolition company cleared most of the site.

Given the immediate proximity of ATV trails that are part of the ever-expanding Ride The Wilds trail system and the fact that it’s mighty hard to find overnight accommodations in the City that Trees Built — TripAdvisor says there are none — Chapman is partial to a hotel, although he sees it being used at first to support or store ATVs and snowmobiles.

State Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Whitefield, who came to tour the Converse/Bass property yesterday, agreed that over the years, he’s heard “a lot of discussion for a hotel” in Berlin. Read more from the unionleader.com.


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