City leaders to hold special called meeting for AMA vote

City leaders to hold special called meeting for AMA vote

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany Museum leaders are hoping to move one step closer to making their downtown location a reality.

City leaders will vote on whether to approve a $1.5 million loan or line of credit for the relocation next week.

Albany city commissioners decided on Tuesday they will hold a special called meeting quickly because museum officials said time is limited.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Commissioner Tommie Postell were not able to attend Tuesday's meeting. Commissioners said they wanted to wait for everyone to be present to vote. They also had a few questions about the way the loan was written.

If the loan is approved, the museum will have a better chance of landing a $1.7 million federal tax credit.

The new market tax credits are given to community development entities across the country.

For the past several months, museum officials have been working to prove they should get the tax credit.

Part of that includes showing they have the funding for it. Other efforts include engineering reports, a capital campaign consultant and a recent $10,000 grant for collections assessment and preservation.

Without the loan from the city, museum officials said there is a high chance they won't get the federal tax credit, which means they wouldn't be able to carry out all of their plans downtown.

Museum officials hope to present their plans for moving downtown to the city commission at the special called meeting. They'll also need to explain why the former Belk location downtown is the best spot to relocate the museum.

"Perfect blank canvas for a new museum. It has plenty of room for growth," said Paula Williams, executive director for the museum.

The move comes after last year's destructive January storms tore off the roof and caused major damage. While they did complete repairs on their current location, they feel like it's time to move downtown to help be closer to other city attractions.

"We usually draw from at least a 90-mile radius even where we are now, but when we move downtown, we feel those numbers will grow exponentially," said Williams.

Staff will also have to show all of the funding sources for the line of credit which includes the $1 million deferred loan approved by the city in May.

Museum officials said that they hope to be at the downtown location within the next two years.

Commissioner BJ Fletcher has been a strong proponent of moving the museum downtown. She said she hopes her fellow commissioners see the benefits too.

"The Albany Museum of Art is remarkable. It is culture. It is a way of life and a way of life the younger people are going to. It fits right in with the brewery. It fits right in with the flats. It's just a piece, the piece that is needed to put this puzzle together," said Fletcher.

Williams said she is optimistic the commission will vote in her favor.

Copyright 2018 WALB. All rights reserved.