If 2011 was all about funding, and 2012 was all about design, then 2013 is going to be all about construction, according to City Administrator Tom Barber.
The culmination of two years’ worth of work will be seen in the construction of an open air courtyard with a stage downtown between Oz Pizza and the building that is expected to house Irish Bred Pub by the end of the year.
The courtyard will be a gathering spot for small, year round gatherings, Barber hopes, which will be a boon to downtown businesses in the form of a steady flow of customers.
With downtown seeing an estimated 3,000 a week in foot traffic, and 16,000 cars a day driving by, it has yet to be tapped of its true potential, something city officials are hoping to correct by pouring time and money — more than $1 million worth this year, according to City Engineer Troy Besseche — into the area.
In the past several years, the city has taken out two bonds, one $10 million and the other $15 million, to put into the downtown area, as well as Duncan Park, which for years sat unused.
The city turned its focus to the park in 2011, and will be spending $2.5 million to expand the parking lot, improve the restroom and concession area and renovate the indoor pool and build a splash pad.
Additional funds will be spent by the city on the two college campuses downtown — Georgia Military College and Brenau University.
Barber said the plan for the campus space in 2013 is to expand adding another classroom building for Georgia Military College, upgrade the parking lot and to also hopefully bring a technical school downtown, but that is a more long-term goal.
And hopefully, those attending classes at the schools will stay downtown to eat and shop as the area continues to grow.
Barber said the city recently hired a Decatur-based marketing company, Lampe-Farley, to help market and rebrand Fairburn by redesigning its logo and standardizing its letterheads.
Once the stage is up downtown, Barber said he’d like to start see more marketing of the downtown area.
“I didn’t feel like we have enough downtown to spend money on advertising,” he said of widespread advertising prior to the development plans. “At some point, we’re going to start tooting our own horn.”
In year’s past, city economic development associate Pat Pallend said, where before efforts were aimed toward industrial.
But broadening the horizons is a positive move, he said.
“We have a mayor and council that understand the necessity of moving forward,” Pallend said.