LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - With construction on the train depot and welcome center soon to be completed, Lee County officials have more plans to restore and preserve downtown Leesburg.
With agriculture and tourism being the top industries in Georgia, Rozanne Braswell with Lee County said it was a no-brainer putting the two together.
"Why not put those together and expand a heritage tourism district for Leesburg," said Braswell.
By developing a Depot Area Overlay District to enhance Downtown Leesburg.
With the train depot renovation being near completion and the chamber moving in soon, they believe it's the perfect time to update and redefine downtown Leesburg.
"We're just excited to have this opportunity to expand tourism and showcase our town," said Braswell.
Alicia George is an employee at one of the remaining businesses on Walnut Avenues' downtown buildings and says this has been a long time coming.
"I think it'll make it more attractive to bring more businesses in and bring potential customers in," said George.
And that's what Braswell has in mind, making the area more appealing to residents and tourists by giving the existing downtown building a makeover. There are even discussions of having residential living above the storefronts, making it more convenient for the business owner.
"So this will definitely be an economic impact and boost for Leesburg," said Braswell.
George feels that if the area is looking fresh and new, it will attract more local businesses to join them in the complex.
"We're hoping it will continue to bring businesses downtown and keep the downtown area alive. We don't want to see it diminish like many other small cities have done," said George.
And overall, Braswell believes this will be a step toward potential growth and wants Leesburg to reach its full potential as a destination.
Officials also said as they develop Downtown Leesburg, they want to protect against over-commercialization.
The Leesburg Zoning Ordinance will review all properties within the city of Leesburg.
There are a number of historic homes more than 50 years old in Leesburg, and becoming a Heritage Tourism area will give the city's legacy more protection.
"We want to protect that residential development from further commercial encroachment but also highlight the opportunities for people to shop and eat and get gas in Leesburg and enjoy the tourism opportunities here," said Braswell.
This focus will mainly be on the Gateway Corridor of US 19, Walnut Avenue, and the Dixie Highway, a thoroughfare into Leesburg connecting Georgia to Florida, with a direct route from Atlanta to Tallahassee.