Developer's plans for downtown Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Developer's plans for downtown Albany

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Albany - For about two years, private developer Peter Studl has talked about opening numerous businesses and attractions in downtown Albany. Other than a small art gallery, none of them has opened yet. Wednesday, Studl gave Albany Tomorrow members his three year plan to develop the millions of dollars worth of property he's bought.

Peter Studl has grabbed up more than twenty downtown properties. He now owns 175,000 square feet of building space in downtown Albany. "If anybody thinks this is the product of enormous wealth, they're sadly mistaken," said Studl.

He's spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying property and making promises to open restaurants, museums, and other attractions. So far, he hasn't delivered on many of those promises.

"The whole city doesn't have to restart all at once. Our focus now is the Front Street area." Studl says he's been waiting to open Front Street stores across from Riverfront Park until the new hotel conference center opens this summer.

"In April, we'll open Popcorn in the Park across from the fountain. It'll be a cheddar cheese, caramel corn, great smelling, gotta-have-it popcorn place. This summer and fall, we'll open Georgia Fries, wood oven works, Fire truck Pizza, and Riverfront room which is a banquet room along the river."

Studl is also renovating a building on Front street for a children's puppet theater, also scheduled to open this summer. Studl stresses it could take three years to develop all his property, and he's picky about what will fill the empty space.

"We do want to control the uses, and we want to make sure all the uses are consistent to what we think is a good plan for the city." His plan for the city is family friendly and focuses on prayer and faith. He says he's turning the old Belk building into a Prayer Museum. "We are going now into the design stage and the curatorial stage to fill the galleries with collectible and objects." There's no exact time for that museum to open.

Studl says he's not done yet. "We'll still looking at four more major parcels." After those acquisitions, Studl says it will be time to shift his focus from planning to action.

Studl promised ATI the stores on Front Street will either be open or at least the facade finished by the time the hotel opens.

posted by kathryn.murchison@walb.com