New developments to revitalize downtown - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Revitalizing goals in downtown for 2014

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Glenn Leftenant, Leftenant Clothing Owner Glenn Leftenant, Leftenant Clothing Owner
Aaron Blair, Downtown Manager Aaron Blair, Downtown Manager
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Albany's downtown manager is hoping for better results this year. 2013 was a slow year for development downtown.

Downtown leaders hope to transform this area the 100 block between Broad Avenue and Oglethorpe Boulevard this year. They hope a project that could bring a hotel and a Waffle House will come together.  One new downtown business owner says a project like that would be great for his business.  

Glenn Leftenant owns "Leftenant Clothing" on Broad Ave and says his first year in business isn't where he would like for it to be.  

"I expect for it to be booming right about now, but I still believe in 2014 to be the year," said Glenn Leftenant.    

So does Downtown Manager, Aaron Blair. He says developers already have projects in the works.  

"It's called "100 block South Project" where they're looking at master planning the whole block in potential of bringing a hotel, expanding convention space," said Aaron Blair.  

Bringing a new Waffle House is part of that project. Leftenant believes more efforts need to be made to promote all of downtown.  

"I feel like we need to promote the whole downtown if we're really trying to grow it, and that's a good thing they got the hotel coming in and I feel like if we had more restaurants," said Leftenant.  

Last year, only four new businesses opened downtown and three closed. Blair says there are things businesses can do to help attract people to the downtown area.  

"Be consistent with what you do, if you're going to be a great hair salon but have consistent hours. Have a great facade keep your business clean on the outside," said Blair.  

Blair says attractions like the Art Park help attract a young crowd. He wants to focus on bringing more lofts downtown but says private developers must lead that charge. Leftenant believes residential life downtown can save the area.  

"That'll bring more business downtown, it'll be like the city of Atlanta," said Leftenant.    

The big city life is what Blair is aiming for.  

"We want them to feel like wow, this is something I've seen in a big city or I've gone to one of these but it was in a big city," said Blair.  

Blair says expanding the cultural arts, improving downtown's physical appearance and focusing on new retail are a few of the revitalizing goals for 2014. He says the completion of the Broad Avenue Bridge will help spur development downtown. He says in the three years he's been here, the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority has invested $900,000 into redevelopment projects.

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