Downtown is a tough sell to many -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown is a tough sell to many

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Dale Saunders Dale Saunders
Riverfront Barbeque Riverfront Barbeque
Orlando Rambo Orlando Rambo
Aaron Blair Aaron Blair

Downtown Albany planners say attracting more residential units in the downtown district will spark revitalization there. But some businesses facing dwindling sales may have to close their doors before progress moves in. 

The owner of the Riverfront Barbeque says he may have to sell his restaurant, after seven years of being a part of the downtown community.     

The cooks keep slinging food, but not as many customers are coming through the door. "It breaks my heart to have to leave downtown.  Everything you see in here is something... the floors were laid by me. I mean it's a very hard decision," said Dale Saunders, Riverfront Barbeque Owner.  

Saunders says he may have to sell the downtown Riverfront Barbeque and consolidate it with the Lee County location.   

"Anytime you're downtown, when the businesses close at night after five, it gets real scarce. Not a lot of people downtown."       

The announcement comes after the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority approved over $330,000 for an agreement with Shandon Development Properties to stimulate downtown growth.   

"Businesses close and businesses are gonna open. That's part of the process. But no matter what, us as a group of individuals downtown, we just have to keep going forward," said Aaron Blair, Downtown Manager.  

Blair says attracting residents to downtown Albany will play a key role in sustaining and sparking business development. Albany Heights could be a part of that equation.  

"Working with the city to get that development re-developed into a more market rate loft type style apartments that probably would be about 40-50 units."   

Shandon Development has other goals.   "We have some long range plans which would be some upscale units that we hope to overlook the river," said Orlando Rambo, Shandon Development Properties Partner.   

Developers say they're working to help businesses stay open, but have back up plans to continue with revitalization if some have to move on.    Saunders says he's about 75% sure he'll sell the downtown location. He says he may already have found a buyer.

Developers say some projects like the new Waffle House are being fast tracked to stimulate growth. They hope residents will begin seeing progress with other projects within the next six to 12 months.


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