I personally like two components in downtown redevelopment in Georgia: funky and mixed use. The main street programs in Tifton, Moultrie, Americus, Madison and Athens are so cool to me. Eccentric shops, coffee houses, sports bars, and bookstores might provide an after hour balance to the lunch spots for governmental workers in Albany. When Albany State plays FVSU in Columbus, we make an annual stop at a place called the Cannon Brew Pub on Broad Street; that area could be the model for downtown Albany with the hip college kids and people who find the mall area lacking in character. I have not been there but I hear good things about the Broad area of Augusta.
Yes, it was a rough day when Bo Henry headed west because the second floor of his place had that vibe. The old Broad Street Bistro had a chef from a local country club who took hook up a peanut entrusted pan-seared trout that was brilliant and all within minutes of my old office.
So let’s operate backwards for a second: while some people are wary of downtown Albany after dark, who are the possible brave souls who might help turn the area around. I might be wrong but I still like students from the three colleges and obviously brave Marines. I wish downtown jumped when I was in the dorm at ASU because walking across the bridge to an entertainment zone could have been too cool. Remember Morehouse College and Spelman College, and pre-Olympics Georgia Tech (Techwood Homes) are/were in some rough areas that make downtown Albany seem like nothing to fear. It is my understanding that Yale and the University of South California are in rough areas and I know every college student must be careful anywhere in D.C.
With all the concerns, different clienteles are packing them in at the Albany Theater. If I were a young person, I could get into living in the building that had the crosses on top during Christmas if it was converted into apartments and lofts with ASU upperclassmen in mind. But what am I thinking, the new dorms at ASU are great. I am having a hard time thinking of an HBCU that is closer to a hip area and I would like seeing college students living in a town where a car is not a necessity—don’t forget about the Darton and Albany Tech students as well as young working people. What about college hours at the First Tee?
Another model for downtown Albany is the cool NoDa area of Charlotte, North Carolina. They have a bar for people with dogs. I am tired of people saying that the Albany area is fine in many ways but let’s run to Atlanta every other weekend.