ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A long-awaited development project will break ground on Tuesday in downtown Albany.
City officials believe the new microbrewery will be a key to re-vitalizing downtown.
On Friday, the ground breaking speeches will be made, but work is already underway on one of the most long anticipated business ventures in South Georgia.
The footings for the Pretoria Fields Microbrewery were cut into the old Art Park floor this morning, starting what city officials call the catalyst piece in the future for downtown revitalization.
"It falls and then all the other pieces start to fall along with it. And then we look up one day and we come back to our downtown. Or we look around in our downtown and we see that it is where we want it to be," said Albany Downtown Manager LaToya Cutts.
The $6 million microbrewery will be built in the Art Park courtyard, plus the two empty buildings to the left.
The 18,000 square foot brewery will have indoor and outdoor facilities, and include the history of the area.
"We actually preserve the old facade, which was the big thing for the city. And we are trying to preserve a lot of the original walls. And we are actually going to reclaim most of the wood in the structure, and reuse it in our construction project," said Pretoria Fields COO Chris Willis.
Downtown officials said that this is by far the most anticipated project in downtown revitalization efforts, with a lot of the community excited about the microbrewery.
"You know it's a great project that will be able to bring other people from around this region into downtown Albany," said Cutts. "So we are really excited about the project."
After the groundbreaking ceremony, construction will continue full steam.
After two years of preparation, the owners hope to open Pretoria Fields on Labor Day next year.
The owners wanted to incorporate as much of the Art Park as possible.
One art piece, not in their final design, is a sculpture in the front of the park, but they are working to save it.
Cheryl Buford built a sculpture at the Art Park when it first opened in 2009.
She formed concrete wings and a ball on top around one of the steel beams from the old building.
It was left bare then, but painters were invited to put their art on top of the concrete, to give it color.
The new building owners have agreed to help Buford cut the pole from the building so she can preserve it.
"That piece has a little over 80 hours in it. And I spent a lot of nights and evenings and after work and weekends down there on ladders and scaffolding building it. So I've got a lot of time in it. Got a lot of my soul in it. It's just a piece of my artwork," explained Buford.
The owners of the Pretoria Fields Microbrewery said they want to preserve as much of the art park as possible, and will work to help Buford save it.
Buford said she will probably take it to her home to put it on display.