ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Downtown Albany has gone through many phases over the years, and the current phase is one where downtown is up and coming, thanks to public-private partnership and the Pretoria Fields Microbrewery.
"When I was a child, the downtown area was where we were," said Albany native Leigh Singletary.
For her, witnessing downtown Albany coming back to life means the world.
"You came down here to do your big shopping, to go to the nice clothing stores, and they had little restaurants," explained Singletary. "So to see these types of things coming back to the community is exciting."
She's not alone in that. At the Pretoria Fields Microbrewery groundbreaking Tuesday morning, city leaders emotionally explained why the new business means so much to the community.
"It has taken us a long time to get to this groundbreaking," said Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.
"I've seen ups and downs of this downtown area, going through business losses and gains. Just to see this opportunity come up for our city is huge for us," said Albany resident Teresa Smith.
For the city government, this public-private partnership between itself and the microbrewery will not only boost the local economy, but create a tourist destination as well.
"I think it will grab other businesses to come and invest back into downtown and also the heart of downtown, with this being the start of it just brings pride to our community again," explained Smith.
Chris Willis, the microbrewery's chief operating officer, said that building at the former downtown Art Park is the best case scenario for the area.
"It'll take around 9 months for construction, and we actually have started construction today," said Willis. "We're going to try to encompass the soul of Albany in beer."
Willis said the anticipated opening date for Pretoria Fields Microbrewery is around Labor Day of 2017.