New look for city: Redevelopment plans revealed

Published 9:28 pm Friday, March 28, 2014

According to some officials working in revitalization projects for downtown Bainbridge, residents can hold their heads up high knowing there is momentum gaining in an effort to further develop the historic town square and surrounding spaces.
Bainbridge has been participating in a downtown renaissance pilot program since July of 2013 with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government with the University of Georgia.  Thursday volunteers with the program met to share their vision with city residents at City Hall.
Danny Bivins with the Carl Vinson Institute shared artistic renderings of what Bainbridge’s downtown spaces could look like after “planting some trees and using a few cans of paint.”
“This is cost effective and not a huge project, but it is short-term and will make a huge impact,” Bivins said.
The presentation showed images of what entrances to the city would look like with new signs and more greenery. Other images shared with residents what derelict buildings would look like after being painted for a short-term solution. Bivins even shared pictures of buildings covered in artistic murals.
The overall downtown redevelopment plan that has been created over the last several months came from focus groups, public surveys and those who volunteered on committees. The result was four major categories of line items to work on immediately. The development plan focuses on four major topics — design, promotion, organization and economic development.
“I have been working for 14 years for the downtown program and I have never seen this type of enthusiasm and interest and this many people willing and wanting to do work — so I was ecstatic with the number of people that attended Thursday,” Amanda Glover, Director for the Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority said. “I think this plan will create a more walk-able downtown and we have more places for upper story living than people realize.”
Those who attended the meeting were invited to sign up and volunteer to work in one of the four focus areas further.
The organization group will work to create a downtown merchants group that will plan progressive dinners, seasonal activities and more. There are plans to promote Bainbridge’s downtown to visitors with a re-branding effort and new logos that will be painted throughout the city.
New design elements include the creation of an “Oak Tree Huggers” group that will promote the donation of trees to create more green space downtown in derelict spaces.
Those volunteering with economic development efforts for the project are working to empower entrepreneurs and also encourage existing business owners to start new ventures.
Volunteers are also working to coordinate an artist is residence program for the city to brand the city as more artistic and turn a derelict space into a studio downtown.
“I think this plan will bring nothing but good things,” Glover said.

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