Last week members of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) met with representatives from the city's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to discuss possible solutions to revitalizing the city’s downtown area.
The three day visit from the DCA was part of the department’s Boomtown Project, an 18 month pilot project coordinated by the department of community affairs between six Georgia cities. The six cities the department is working with are Ellijay, Columbus, Cordele, Madison, Woodstock, and Jefferson. By working with these cities, the department plans to stimulate job growth specifically in each of their downtown areas.
DCA Community Manager of the local government program, Annaka Woodruff, spoke at the beginning of the meeting about some of the opportunities the DCA can bring to the community of Ellijay.
According to Woodruff, some of these options include bringing in several specialists in areas such as financing, planning, historic preservation, organizational development, and even urban design.
“Our department brings a wealth of information,”
Woodruff continued by saying in the meeting that the DCA recently decided that it needed to target those resources and should work together to use those opportunities to restore downtown areas.
“We have been at this for over a year now,”
added Woodruff, also mentioning that Ellijay was the first city that the department had visited.
In the meeting, the community of affairs also explored ways Ellijay could renew two historic structures.
The two structures the DCA suggested were the Watkins House, located across from the courthouse, and the Kay House located near Ellijay city hall.
The DCA suggested providing additional office space in the Watkins House and possibly turning the Kay Building into a Georgia Grown store or a hiker’s trail head. According to the DCA, the idea for the structures would be both to preserve the Watkin’s House and to create synergy for the downtown area by using the Kay building for productive use.
One of the ways the DCA could help renew these areas is by providing Downtown Development Revolving Loan Funds through the city’s Better Hometown Program at only two percent interest. The DCA can only offer these types of loans at that interest through the Better Hometown Program.
“The role that we plan is in assisting local governments,” says Woodruff, “We are here to be your champion.”
For more information regarding how the DCA plans to help with the restoration of the downtown area, please view the video below: