MANCHESTER - The downtown corridor is now more than just a place to shop and eat - it is now a designated village center.

A longrunning effort to obtain the special designation bore fruit earlier this week when the state Department of Housing and Community Development, a division of the state's Agency of Commerce and Community Development, gave a thumbs up to the town's application.

Former planning director Lee Krohn and current town assessor Pauline Moore spearheaded the effort to earn the town this recognition.

Krohn said the process began several years ago.

"This is a really good timing," he said, adding that with the completion of the roundabout there is momentum to continue to revitalize downtown Manchester.

A designated village center distinction covers a specific area in downtown Manchester, running along Main Street and includes portions of Bonnet Street, Depot Street, Wyman Lane and Memorial Lane. Buildings in the area will be eligible for different tax credits and be given higher priority when applying for state grants, Krohn said.

A designated village center is just a distinction and the first step towards other revitalization and renovation efforts.

Now, the town can see if they want to try and apply for a downtown designation. This is a much longer and difficult process, Moore said. Some of the buildings eligible for the tax credits include the Berkshire Bank building on Main Street, Ye Olde Tavern and the Northshire Bookstore. All together, there are 60 total buildings in the corridor with about half eligible for credit, Moore said.

"There are buildings in town that we want to preserve and reuse instead of just throw down and put up new buildings," she said. The area that received the distinction was chosen because it was a compact area full of historical buildings and followed guidelines set out by the program, Moore said.