Warner Robins officials talk downtown redevelopment

jmink@macon.comOctober 15, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- When it comes to revamping downtown Warner Robins, redevelopment officials are getting a to-do list from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

The institute suggests the local Redevelopment Agency consider completing an immediate task -- such as installing new road signs -- to show that work is in progress. In the long term, however, redevelopment will be a lengthy project, which will stretch from Commercial Circle to Robins Air Force Base, institute representatives told RDA board members Tuesday during their meeting.

For now, institute representatives -- who are working with the city to help navigate development -- are conducting interviews and probably will hold a planning session around January, when the city will have some new leaders, they said.

Still, representatives made some preliminary suggestions based on local redevelopment plans, which have been in the works for more than a decade.

“We are focused particularly on Commercial Circle back through the interchange,” said Langford Holbrook, public service associate with the institute.

Some of the preliminary short-term goals include forming a steering committee, finding and using tax breaks, planning mixed-use developments and connecting streets to develop downtown blocks.

For the long term, the preliminary plan includes building parks and creating other green space, developing downtown housing, improving air quality and approving design and architecture guidelines for downtown buildings. Those guidelines might need to be in place sooner rather than later, officials said. Currently, three businesses are considering downtown locations, and all would have metal buildings, city officials said.

For now, officials are developing a solid game plan, they said. Institute representatives will come back to the board with an official list of priorities and suggestions of where and how to start.

“We’ve got some good things going on here,” said Gary Lee, executive director of the Redevelopment Agency. “We’ve got some movement, and we know where we’re going.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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