Buildings to stimulate activity

Published 7:48 pm Friday, May 6, 2011

TWO BUILDINGS ADJACENT to the Bon Air were purchased by the Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority. The city manager hopes the buildings will be turned into a mini-mall and serve as an incubator for small businesses.

The two downtown buildings the Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority proposes to purchase will eventually be used to stimulate activity downtown, City Manager Chris Hobby said Thursday.

An April 29, the DDA held a special, called meeting agreeing to purchase 127 and 131 E. Water St. from Dewey Robinson for $185,000.

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These buildings, which border Water and Broad Streets, face Willis Park and are adjacent to the Bon Air, were formerly occupied by Gowan Furniture and South Georgia Sports.

The closing is scheduled for June, Hobby said.

He said the buildings are in remarkably great shape, and it is hoped that once the DDA takes possession of the buildings that the old facade would be removed, revealing a brick front with nice windows and framing.

Mayor Edward Reynolds had suggested during this year’s city retreat to create a business incubator.

The buildings could work essentially as a mini-mall, Hobby said. The business incubator would allow a business person who doesn’t have a lot of capital to rent one of the spaces available in the building to launch their business.

Hobby said the buildings could also be used by city hall personnel to temporarily move into while the present city hall, Main Street Office and the old Kwilecki Building are being renovated. The second floor could be converted to living space, similar to the Bon Air and Water Street Project.

The money for the purchase of the buildings came from the DDA’s revolving fund, which was used years ago to purchase the Water Street Project. Monies from that project came from a combined state community development block grant, city coffers and Kirbo Charitable Trust Fund. Even though the city lost its share of money in the Water Street Project, Hobby said the proceeds from the sale of the Water Street Project were used for the newest buildings.