Albany developer takes on ADICA - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany developer takes on ADICA

Lane Rosen Lane Rosen
Thelma Johnson Thelma Johnson
The former SOWEGA Council building The former SOWEGA Council building
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A downtown Albany business owner has serious concerns about the City Development Authority's plan to buy more than $3 million worth of downtown real estate.

Lane Rosen questions whether the Albany Dougherty Intercity Authority has the expertise to develop downtown Albany, and he thinks their proposal would hurt current property owners.

Lane Rosen owns more than 30,000 square feet of property in downtown Albany, including the State Theatre and the Gathering Place Event Center on Pine Avenue. Rosen says now that the city's Development Authority is proposing buying the building next door to his and making it housing, he is convinced they are financially lost.

"If I gave ADICA a million dollar lottery ticket, they would sell it to a stranger for $500,000 on the way to the store," Rosen said.

Rosen is proud to say his family has been in business in downtown Albany for more than 100 years, and he thinks the new big money proposal is for the authority to manipulate the prices of property.

"Business people and the community alike, we all agree ADICA is not capable of making these kind of financial decisions," Rosen said.

The Development Authority Board Chair Thelma Johnson says they are volunteers appointed by Commissioners to be the conduit to use city funds to develop downtown. And a big part of their proposal is to develop housing.

"Downtown closes at five. In order for a business to survive you need people after five o-clock. And you can get that by residential being downtown," Johnson said.

She said the funds would provide incentives necessary for private development. 

Rosen said the board is killing investment, including his. "Right now the market is very bare. And the goal is to revitalize downtown so we can improve that for all businesses," Johnson said.

Rosen said he is convinced the Development Authority is not qualified to set prices by buying up available properties, and he is speaking out now, before the city spends millions more dollars, in what he thinks will hurt current business owners.

The ADICA board is meeting right now. Johnson said she would like to hear from more community members at their monthly meetings. Rosen wants city commissioners to replace the current board with members of the Albany Board of Realtors.

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