By Karen Cohilas - bio | email
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - While this will be a busy weekend in downtown Albany, that's not always the case. Businesses struggle to stay open because of a lack of residents and pedestrian traffic in the area. The Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority wants to change that. They want to issue bonds so they'll have millions of dollars they can offer as incentives for developers. But a taxpayers group says that's a waste of money.
Just Friday, Subway restaurant cut the ribbon on its expansion. A bright spot in what has been an otherwise gloomy economy for Downtown Albany. ADICA leaders want to see more business downtown, but to do that takes money.
Phil Cannon said, "What we're trying to do is kick start downtown in a way that we believe will generate positive interest and generate private investment dollars in downtown Albany." That's why ADICA is trying to get final approval on issuing up to $6 Million in bonds to acquire property and offer other incentives to developers. Not as a handout, as a taxpayer group is claiming.
Cannon said, "We did not organize it in a way where $6 Million in cash would come into a bank account that could be divvied out as somebody saw fit." Rather, Cannon says developers would have to present the board with a plan that fits the Riverfront Master Plan and is inline with the projects detailed in the bond application.
They would also have to come with their own financing for the project secured. "If it is a sound plan with a real financial backing, then we can draw on that line of credit and get that project started."
Don Buie said, "This is not a government or an ADICA giveaway. We're not giving any money away, we're trying to mitigate the risks. Take some of the risks out of the development."
Bringing more residential, retail and restaurant opportunities to downtown. "We're in the business of creating an inviting atmosphere for the development to come. We're in the business of trying to mitigate some of the risks of those developments to do a project that makes sense and we're in the business of transforming downtown Albany."
Before any bond money was spent on a development or acquisition of property, the ADICA board would have to vote on the matter in a public hearing and a majority vote needed for passage. A hearing on the proposed bond that the Dougherty Taxpayers association is fighting will be held in Superior Court on March 19th.
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