New manager: Downtown will get better - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New manager: Downtown will get better

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January 7, 2008

Albany - - Revitalization in one part of Albany is one of the major items on the city's to-do list. It's no secret downtown Albany has seen its share of business closings, vacant buildings, and blight. But several recent projects to spruce up the area have proven successful and the new man hired to make sure things stay that way says it's only getting better.

The Clemment family admits they've never really got out to walk around downtown.

"Just kinda passed through it on my way to the mall. Not really anything to do," says Tangela Clemment.

The latest attractions have given them plenty reason to.

"I really love how they're building up the downtown area. Looks great."

The new Ray Charles Park and the Riverfront Trail seems to have already picked up downtown traffic.

"Downtown Albany is like a canvas where you really can paint any kind of picture you want," says new Downtown Manager Don Buie.

He has been on the job two months. He's already met with every business owner downtown and now he's developed a strategic plan to boost development.

The first step he's already finished, developing a list of property owners with blighted structures.

"Were asking them to bring their building up to code and if they do, great, if not then we'll have to proceed to a different course of action," he said.

He says blight makes people feel unsafe.

'If you look at the statistics time and time again, the crime is not downtown. It's in northwest," Buie suggests.

He also says the city will aggressively recruit developers and new business owners to invest here.

"But don't you have to attract people and get people to say 'hey I want to come here'?" we asked.

"Well Brent, honestly that's been a very easy task."

Buie says he's already spoken with several developers and already two have come to check out downtown.

Folks like the Clemment say, bring it on.

"Now were waiting with great expectations and anticipation on what were going to do next," Anthony Clemment said.

So his family will have another reason to get downtown. 

Buie says the Flint River is a big draw to help bring development. He also says the city is working on a plan to encourage entrepreneurs to come downtown. The incentives for that program are being finalized.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=downtown/bs