If just more young people would move to the square…

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I figured out what the big deal is about Thomasville, the city neighbor of Bainbridge here in the Southwest region. After hearing so much about it lately and attending a focus group meeting for the Downtown Redevelopment Committee, I have heard more than once someone compare Bainbridge amenities to those in Thomasville.
As I drove into the city Saturday, at each turn down the highway I was bitter.
“This isn’t any different than Bainbridge — we have all of the same stuff,” I thought passing Harvey’s, Dollar General and more.
But then I got to their downtown.
I can’t lie — it was kind of awesome. After grabbing some gourmet pizza with chèvre and fresh basil and pesto, I walked down brick-paved Broad Street and purchased some antiques. I am looking forward to going back. But not as much as I am looking forward to seeing Bainbridge sprout even more amenities in days and years to come.
It’s not really correct to compare Bainbridge to Thomasville, as the leader of our focus group pointed out, because they are an odd exception with what they have and how they got it.
My vision for Bainbridge and the vision others in my group had, is to see the downtown attract more residents to the square area. I can’t help but wonder what the atmosphere would be like if more young people my age were my neighbors on the square. I not only could walk to work from my home, but also go grocery shopping at a downtown market if more residents were to have a place to live and have a need for even more downtown businesses.
Chattanooga, Tenn. is a great model for building a downtown. It was once dormant, but the city increased the amount of loft spaces downtown, which created a need for more downtown businesses. More foot traffic from residents created a more lively feel and need for entertainment. This decreased the amount of petty crime with more eyes on downtown.
There are currently waiting lists to live in the less than 30 apartments on the Bainbridge square. People very much want to live downtown, but the opportunities are sparsely presenting themselves.
Many have their own vision for the downtown — most of them are more poignant, scholarly and business-minded than mine — but I would love to see those ages 20 to 30 all walking their dogs and grilling hamburgers in my neck of the woods rather than tucked away in the lake area.
I wouldn’t mind if there were more neighbors downtown to knock on my door and ask if I have any milk or sugar — isn’t that what neighbors are good for anyway? Come on over y’all.

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