Rome Downtown Development Director Ann Arnold said 35 representatives from DCA and the cities of Cordele, Madison, Ellijay and Jefferson will be in Rome today through Friday to learn the intricacies of rehabilitation and renovation of downtown properties.
Don Rypkema, with Place Economics in Washington D.C., who has done work across the U.S. and internationally, will lead the training program. He specializes in consultations that include economic revitalization of downtown communities, feasibility analyses for real estate and the rehabilitation of historic structures.
“He’s just incredible,” Arnold said. “I’ve heard him speak for years. To have him here teaching us is pretty amazing.”
The participants will be divided into teams to look at Christie’s, 100 Broad St.; LaMarie’s at Magretta Hall, 201 Broad St.; and the old McCrobie’s building, 345 Broad St.
“They’ll meet with the tax office. They’ll meet with a banker. They’ll talk to real estate agents and they’ll come up with a use for those properties,” Arnold said. “They’ll do the research. I don’t tell them anything, don’t talk about the history or anything. They will come up with their own recommendations.”
Two teams will be assigned to each building and they will develop recommendations for revitalization of the buildings.
Madison has a city manager, downtown director and city planner coming to Rome. Jefferson has a city manager, downtown manager and member of its preservation commission. Woodstock has its city manager, city planner and downtown manager participating in the event. Cordele is sending its downtown manager and director of the arts alliance, while Ellijay is sending the president of the Chamber of Commerce, downtown manager and a DDA member.
Sixteen DCA folks are participating alongside the city representatives in what amounts to a train-the-trainer-type of program. Once the regional folks across the state learn how to do this they will fan out across the state to assist small cities with the downtown development efforts.