New initiative to bring business to Downtown Albany - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

New initiative to bring business to Downtown Albany

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Trying to find businesses to occupy empty storefronts on Albany's riverfront has proven a lot harder than the company overseeing downtown development hoped.

The Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority must decide how or whether to keep working with that company.

The owner of Shandon Development sent ADICA board members a letter Wednesday promising to give them a report in the next few weeks with Shandon's next action steps.

Patrick Plettner said Shandon still hopes to close deals with tenants next month and start renovating riverfront retail spots.

Downtown Manager Sharlene Cannon said Shandon's lease options on the properties are running out which could put plans on hold if ADICA can't come up with money to buy property or offer incentives to attract businesses.

But she insists ADICA doesn't want to cut ties with Shandon.

"They are certainly hoping to remain our developer, and we're hoping they will,” Sharlene Cannon, Downtown Manager

In September, Shandon's owner said the company was close to signing leases with four new businesses which he hoped would be open this Spring.

That hasn't happened.

A new Waffle House was also supposed to have opened downtown months ago.

Cannon said Waffle House still hopes to start building downtown soon and she said Shandon has worked hard to attract new development. Even though they don't have much to show for it right now.

But there is a new initiative to try to fill some of downtown Albany's many empty buildings.

The downtown manager had signs made up to post in vacant buildings, encouraging businesses owners to rent them.

“This building is not a vacancy its an opportunity, For information call the downtown office. And we're wanting all our property owners to put them in their window and hopefully it will send a message to people to think about it,” Sharlene Cannon, Interim Downtown Mananger.

So far about 20 signs have been made.

Downtown Albany has a 60 percent vacancy rate.

ADICA board members also found out Wednesday night there will be a new Downtown Albany website.  It will be unveiled in the next few days and will highlight new businesses and vacant locations. It will also include a newsletter and pictures.

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