ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Georgia Trend magazine just named eight renaissance cities, places where revitalization efforts created thriving downtowns.
None of the cities is in our area.
So what can Albany do to transform downtown and make that list in the future?
Downtown Manager Aaron Blair saw the list of Georgia Trend's Renaissance cities.
He's looking at what those cities, such as Savannah and Columbus, are doing and trying to incorporate some of their ideas into Albany.
Things like more walking space to encourage foot traffic and adding attractions like an art park.
"Stuff like this is what's going to help us in retaining our younger population base and that's what we need to protect here in Albany is our younger population because without them the city is not going to grow," said Blair.
This art park is supposed to encourage street artists like this man who did not want to be identified to express their artistic side, all while attracting a crowd to downtown.
"I've been waiting on this for years. When I was a kid I was a vandal and I would do it on trains and things like that, but this to me is so much better because there's no chance of going to jail and it's just a simple place where people can come and do artwork," said the street artist.
"This is just a local artist that came in on his own. Hopefully we'll see that a lot in the next couple of months. The walls on the outside will house large artworks. Inside the park you'll see some gardens and art seating. We've been discussing having a food truck located in here at all times. It'll be an open park where you could see someone painting at anytime. That's what's make downtown unique," said Blair.
Blair hopes as the park grows so will interest in living downtown. Loft apartments are coming soon. That could lead to more businesses.
"I hate seeing one out of every three buildings being occupied in Downtown. I hate seeing that. Downtown should be a fun place where people can hang. I can see it going there, but I like to see the progress," said the street artist.
"As the downtown goes, the city goes. So we really need to focus and bring back our downtown. We can do it, it's not that it can't be done. If they can bring Detroit back after all the issues they've had, Albany can do it as well," said Blair.
Blair is optimistic Downtown Albany can become the standard for downtowns in Southwest Georgia.
He says events will be coming to the park soon starting in March and even a couple of weddings have been schedule to be hosted there. Hopefully it's a step in the right direction for downtown Albany.
To read Georgia Trend's article, click here.