Museum doesn't want mule barn - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Museum doesn't want mule barn

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

November 7, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  The Albany Museum of Art Board won't move to the old Mule Barn building in downtown Albany. The Board of Directors voted to look for other options to move Downtown.

Downtown planners say that decision could spark a new wave of development in Albany.

For more than a year the Albany Museum of Art has held a lease to buy the old Mule Barn on Broad Avenue, while the Board of Directors considered moving the Museum there. But the Museum board has now told ADICA they are looking at other options.

Downtown manager Don Buie says that could start a new wave of development, starting with the Mule Barn.   "We've had several interested parties from out of state express great interest in that. For us to move forward, we had to have the Albany Museum of Art make a decision,"  Buie said.

ADICA plans call for that area around the Mule Barn at Broad and Front to become the downtown restaurant and shop district, surrounded by the Hilton Garden Inn, Ray Charles Plaza, Riverfront Park, and Civic Center.

City developers have talked with Museum leaders about building in the Albany Herald newspaper parking lot on North Washington at Pine Avenue, making Pine Avenue the city's art and entertainment district, and tourism draw.

"A perfect art district. Museum, River Resource Center, Riverquarium. It gives families that full day experience," Buie said.

This plan is just in the talking stages now, but the Albany Herald says they would consider selling the lot for fair market value to help Albany.  "We would love to do anything to see downtown grow. And certainly to have the Albany Museum of Art downtown would be very positive," Albany Herald President Michael Gebhart said.

Buie says building the Museum on Pine would create a downtown plan that is understandable to visitors, and make a more desirable business area on Broad. Of course finding the money to build these plans into realty is the next step in the equation. 

Don Buie says he will show these downtown development plans to city commissioners December 9th.

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