Downtown biz owner is optimistic but still waiting for more - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown biz owner is optimistic but still waiting for more

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

October 29, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Some downtown Albany business owners continue to be worried about their future as well as the future of the heart of the city. While positive changes have come, the negative is still a concern for some. One business owner is holding on and hoping for a boost in downtown development.

At the Brown Bean Coffee Company in Downtown Albany, business has been hot in the past.  Recently it has been a little cold. "I've owned the business now for almost two years," said owner Jim Leaskey, "started off really good.  Over the last nine months is when we've seen the most change downtown."  

It's a change that Leaskey didn't see in his business forecast. "Some of the individuals that were down here have left and because of that, it's affected our business," said Leaskey.

In downtown Albany, gates still cover some empty storefronts and for sale or lease signs sit in others. Right beside Leaskey's business, Custom Interiors and a bridal shop both decided to leave downtown.

"Those were everyday customers for us," said Leaskey.

He's noticed the loss in business and he often questions city leaders about plans for downtown. "We've heard a lot. We're still waiting to see the benefits of it," said Leaskey.

There is some potential good news. A new nightclub will move into the old Downtown Live building on Broad and Alltel will open an office on Jackson. "If we can start offering people an avenue to come downtown, then definitely it will help us," said Leaskey.

Leaskey sees the news as promising but thinks there's also another key to boosting biz. "I think residential is the key. If we can bring residential downtown, I feel very confident that businesses will come," said Leaskey.

It's that confidence in downtown's future that has kept Brown Bean in the heart of the city. "We want to stick it out as long as we can but definitely there will come a time when we have to make a decision whether to stay or to go," said Leaskey.

The preference would be to stay as long as others continue to do the same.    

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