New Downtown Manager Has a Vision - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New Downtown Manager Has a Vision

Updated:

November 19, 2007

Albany -- There have been a lot of ups and downs for Downtown Albany in recent years. Businesses have come and gone. One anchor business is making plans to move out. Other efforts to draw people downtown have had mixed results. City leaders hope a new Downtown Manager will help turn things around. 

For many, it's the same sad song. Downtown Albany needs help. Several efforts to shake things up here, haven't gotten huge support.

Harvest Moon, a restaurant that's been a mainstay, is making plans to ship out.

From shattered glass to broken windows, it all seems to be common in downtown. But for how long?

"I think downtown has a lot of opportunity and a lot of great assets that can be built upon," says Don Buie.

He's the man Albany leaders hired as the new Downtown Manager to turn things around.

"We have a lot of vacant properties. Properties that could be marketed to very strong franchises. I have a lot of ideas," he says.

It's his first day on the job. We found him first to get an idea what direction he plans to take.

"You have to have the merchants buy in to your rebuilding efforts, you have to have the community giving great input on what they want to see downtown. It can not be the city's idea of what downtown should look like."

Buie stresses it's not a one man show.

"You have to take every opportunity you can to talk to what I call the local knowledge. That's the guy who owns the restaurant, the patrons in the restaurant, faith based organization," Buie says.

He should know. Buie helped turn around a distressed community in Baltimore Maryland in his last job. It caught the attention of Albany leaders who say he can do the same here.

"You also have to be willing to hear the criticisms as well and then build upon those things to try to turn those things around."

From the looks of it, there's a long road ahead.

"Is it going to be difficult?" we asked.

"I think it's going to be a challenge but its going to be a challenge that we can all work together on and we can overcome that challenge," he says.

To do what all of us want, a new and improved Downtown Albany.  

Buie spent the day taking pictures of downtown Albany and meeting people in the community. He says a close partnership between the city and the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority will be important for revitalization.

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