Stakeholders meet to discuss future of downtown Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Stakeholders meet to discuss future of downtown Albany

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – The wheels of development in Downtown Albany are turning once again. Wednesday, stakeholders who can bring real money and real development opportunities to the table met to discuss their plans for downtown.

Some of the people who are most able to make an impact on development in downtown Albany met in one room at the Law enforcement Center in Albany Wednesday.  Interim ADICA Director James Taylor said, "We need the bankers, the investors, the developers, the universities, the higher education institutions and property owners at the table. So, my next question is, are you at the table?"

And willing to put some money on that table.  Taylor said, "I wanted to hear from the community what they thought about downtown, whether they thought that it's worth saving, worth doing, that it's important to the city of Albany and they told me that."

Sam Shugart is a business and property owner. When asked if downtown is worth saving, he said without a doubt. "Absolutely it's worth saving. I would consider it the heart of the city. Without the heart, the body's going to fail."

But the heart doesn't have much blood pumping to it these days. Businesses have closed down. Money has dried up.  Shugart said, "I think what you've got to see is some private investors come in and be successful and with that success, is going to spawn more success." But how do you get people to invest? "Profit," said Shugart.

And that may be easier to achieve with the help of tax credits and incentives. "We want to make it, make it a project as risk free as we can, such that a developer will be willing to risk their resources and their property to do the project," said Taylor.  And put the heartbeat back in the heart of downtown.

The Georgia Department of Community affairs and the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority hosted today's meetings. They are the first in what will be a series of meetings to begin development plans downtown.


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