Restaurant, movie theater may be developed downtown

Published 6:41 pm Friday, September 21, 2012

COMING SOON?: This conceptual drawing shows where the restaurant (lower-left corner) and movie cinema (upper-right corner) could possibly be located along Donalson Street as it curves.

The Development Authority of Bainbridge and Decatur County board of directors voted Thursday to study the feasibility of partnering with the City of Bainbridge on development of a restaurant site on North Donalson Street.

Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby announced earlier this month that the city’s Leisure Services and Purchasing Departments would be moving to the former Bainbridge Pubic Safety building on Shotwell Street.

The existing buildings, across the street from each other on Donalson Street, would be razed to make way for a new retail development as part of the waterfront connectivity master plan.

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“To repair the purchasing building would cost more than the building is worth, so we are going to abandon that building. With Leisure Services moving, we will have two properties that will be empty,” Hobby told the IDA board.

“We have had a site plan done that shows a restaurant where leisure services is now that sits on the hill, looks out over the river and provides a nice river view. Across the street would be mixed-use development.”

Hobby has offered the mixed-use site to Carmike Cinemas, a Columbus, Ga., based movie theater company, for construction of a new movie theater.

“Carmike just opened a new cinema in downtown LaGrange, so they are not opposed to opening in a downtown area,” Hobby said.

According to Hobby, the plan to develop the restaurant site would entail that interested people submit business plans and a model, and then the city would work with the chosen applicant to develop the site. So far, three different restaurant owners have expressed interest in the proposed site.

“While each of the three have different needs and different size facilities, it’s a site that’s interesting to people — the value of the river view has generated the interest,” Hobby said.

The involvement of the Development Authority would come from financing the development of the site, after transfer of the property from the city. Hobby estimated that it would cost $520,000 to construct a 4,000-square-foot building to be used as a restaurant on the site. Then, the building would be leased to a restaurant operator.

“We are not looking to sell the property to the Development Authority,” Hobby said. “The idea would be that if we have a good enough business plan that you could have a restaurant that would go on that site to benefit the master plan.”

Keith Lyle, chairman of the Development Authority’s board of directors, cautioned that the plan is only a tentative suggestion, at this point.

“I think we need to give some thought to the mechanics behind this project,” Lyle said. “In my opinion, the Development Authority needs to play a role in the project; we just need to determine what role we play.

We need to consider the mechanics behind the financing, the mechanics behind the qualifications of the tenant.”

The board voted unanimously to research the feasibility of working with the city to develop the site.

Top-down and Side elevation - Restaurant