Business seems busy in Northwest Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Business seems busy in Northwest Albany

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany city leaders aren't giving up on their mission to breathe new life into downtown. They admit it's a challenge but it's one they think they can conquer. As they try to lure more business downtown, new restaurants and stores have opened in other parts of the city.

Some would say development and business is pouring into Northwest Albany. There's a new doctor's complex at Pointe North and right around the corner construction workers are busy putting up a new Fairfield Inn. "We stay busy. As long as people are needing hotels, we're building them," said Donald Pirkle with Hollis and Sanns Contractors.

A mixture of other businesses have also recently opened up shop.  A handful opened up in a new complex on Old Dawson Road. "You just don't have those choices when you come to downtown Albany for supper or on the weekend," said Phil Cannon.

There are still some empty storefronts in the heart of the city. After four years downtown, San Joes recently joined the list because of problems with the landlord. "We enjoyed being downtown. It was something that was out of our hands," said San Joes Co-Owner Glenda Alvarez.

They're hoping to find another location downtown. "We're still looking. It all depends on what we find," said Alvarez.

But with other stores already empty, slow downtown development is a concern for Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority board member Phil Cannon. He says a key would be residential living. "The issue that we have in downtown with retail business is not the 9 to 5 foot traffic. It's the night time and the weekend foot traffic," said Cannon.

"We're not experiencing any extreme challenges," said Albany Downtown Manager Don Buie.

Both Cannon and Buie say it's harder for the older downtown buildings to compete with the traffic and appeal of newer buildings in other parts of the city. Despite the challenge, Buie guarantees more business is on the way.

"A new nightclub," said Buie, "we have two new restaurants that we are working on right now." A Carolina bistro is expected to fill the old Harvest Moon and an asian restaurant will open around the corner on Jackson.  Other plans are also in the works.

"We're looking at two buildings downtown that have sat dormant for six or seven years and development will begin on those buildings," said Buie.

"We expect in the next year you will see a lot of activity, certainly about 50 percent more than you see right now."

Some of those changes may even be visible over the next couple of months. Meanwhile the construction sounds continue in the Northwest part of town. There's strong confidence that downtown will catch up soon.

Downtown leaders hope to use $6-million dollars in bond money to attract development downtown. That's on hold as the Dougherty County Taxpayer's Association tries to block that in court.

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