Downtown: Cut the red tape! - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown: Cut the red tape!

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Downtown Albany leaders hope getting rid of one level of bureaucracy will speed up redevelopment downtown. 

This week, the city commission voted to dissolve a tax advisory committee that looked over development plans.

Much of the area has been getting a facelift and some say it will attract new business.  

New sidewalks, store fronts, and even a kayak / canoe launch point are some of the developments bringing new life to downtown Albany.   

"We've been doing facade grants for about two years and that's gonna sunset.  We're on a final application phase right now," said Aaron Blair, Downtown Manger.  

A $3.3 Million bond from the Tax Allocation District formed in 2009 has been paying for the improvements. An advisory committee looked over all projects, but city leaders dissolved that committee this week.  

"We still have to go through the same process for approving projects; we still have the same reporting regulations.  We still have an annual audit.  There shouldn't be any concern," said Blair.    

School board members and city and county leaders made up the committee, many already involved in Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority project approval.    "It removes the part of well we've got to take it to this board, then this board, then this board, then so on," said Blair.    

Blair says revitalization projects will now speed up.  "Yeah, this is one of those tipping points over the next two years where you see downtown start to change."     

One of the key challenges, Blair said for downtown development has to do with residential units, and he's hoping to build more in the area.  "I take phone calls all the time of people looking for a loft to live in downtown."   

He says building just 20 lofts by the end of the year will do a lot to bring more foot traffic to downtown's streets.  

Blair says one of the biggest projects in the works for the area is a proposed Waffle House just around the corner on Broad Street. He says developers hope to open the restaurant before summer.

 

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