By Scott W. Marcus
We have heard quite a bit about downtown development lately from the press. We have downtown apartments being renovated, a Craft Brewery being built, and there is talk of the Albany Museum of Art moving downtown.
We are hopeful that there will be more business in the future that wants to move to our community, and specifically to the downtown area.
As part of these efforts, we should encourage our city leaders to support and vote for the expansion of our city's historic district. The area in consideration has steadily declined over the past 20+ years. It has gone from mostly owner occupied property, surrounded by some rentals, to an ever shrinking core of nice homes surrounded by a majority of rental homes in varying states of disrepair.
Property values have dropped, making the area more attractive for rentals, and less attractive for owner occupied use. People are less likely to invest in an area to live if they see the trend in housing is on the decline. There have been no efforts, other than by residents, to reverse this trend.
The City implementing a historic district might help slow the conversion from owner-occupied to rental housing and encourage people to invest in and live in the area.
Another reason to protect this area is that it provides a captive audience that will support our current downtown development efforts. It has been demonstrated in other communities like Augusta, Columbus, and Thomasville, that owners in the district are more likely to shop and eat downtown.
The more residents living in the surrounding area, particularly homeowners, the more support there will be for downtown businesses and projects. Revitalization is also necessary for people to feel safe when patronizing downtown businesses.
Other communities in our state have chosen to support historic districts and have benefited from that decision. Historic districts can positively impact local economies through tourism.
Downtown is on the right track with new businesses coming in the future. Albany needs these businesses and we also need to do everything we can to revitalize downtown and help Albany become the vibrant community that it can be.
A vibrant community has a bustling downtown. A bustling downtown has a Historic District. It's time for our City leaders to help move our city forward.
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