Plans for the program began last fall and centered on a new zoning and development ordinance that the community development department wrote.
In the ordinance, aims of mixed-use development, accessibility improvements to recreational amenities near the square and enhancement of street and sidewalk appearance were highlighted.
The first of the improvements of the program that will be enacted, however, are the street and sidewalk improvements around the square and from Atlanta Street to Alexander Park.
These improvements, according to community development director John Cheek, are of crucial importance.
“We have four major streets downtown that are very hostile to pedestrians and cyclists,” he said. “There are also a number of streets that don’t have any sidewalks or poor sidewalks.”
Cheek said for many residents who either try to walk or cycle in the area, they are either met with high speeds or difficulty crossing streets.
“If we’re going to be able to encourage pedestrian activity, then we need to be implementing programs like this that are going to create a more pedestrian and bike friendly environment and give [residents] the ability to either walk or ride a bike safely,” he said.
The other aspect of the downtown revitalization program is a retail market analysis which will pave the way for a business retention and recruitment program.
Projected goals of the business retention and recruitment program are provision of assistance programs and investments incentives to bolster business growth on the square and downtown area.
There is a correlation between the two aspects of the program, however.
“One of the issues that they have downtown is the hostility towards pedestrians,” said Cheek. “It really damages our business community.”
Funding of the program was provided by the Atlanta Regional Commission in the amount of $1.3 million.
Although Cheek said the committee will wrap up final plans by the end of the month and present them to both the mayor and the council. If approved, the timeline for completion is slated over a long period of time.
“The Atlanta Regional Commission estimated that the entire project will take about for years, primarily because of the linear process,” he said.