Renters lining up for Burney Street property
By Stephanie Johns
The Madison Downtown Development Authority (DDA) selected a vice chairman and heard updates on several items during its recent meeting.
DDA member Clifton Hanes agreed to serve as vice chairman through the end of the calendar year.
Asbestos has been removed at the blue house on West Washington Street and the building itself will be removed soon. City Manager David Nunn suggested that a simple barricade be put in place once the building is gone. He added that, if done correctly, someone may be able to use the items left over from the previous septic business that was there.
City Planner Monica Callahan recommended that the DDA sign a $5,000 contract with grant writer Sheila Fagan from Eatonton to have Fagan prepare grants to benefit the city’s recently purchased Burney Street property. Callahan noted that Fagan has “a nice track record.”
DDA member Everett Royal agreed that for the potential inflow, $5,000 is pretty good, giving them a “nice return.”
Regarding the Burney Street property, the city purchased the property and deeded the property over to the DDA. A survey has been done to determine the division of the property. This survey will be presented to the mayor and council.
Callahan said she has four parties interested in renting within the building: a beautician, a cook, two educators interested in offering workforce education and tutoring services, and a group called Harvest of the Heart interested in offering produce and some clothing.
She added that Harvest of the Heart also is interested in managing the property. She reminded DDA members that they were hoping to be in and out of the property within four to six years and that this would be a step toward reaching that goal.
Harvest of the Heart is a 501(c)(3), which could benefit the DDA as it seeks to leverage grants for the property. Harvest of the Heart also would bring with them a free-standing cooler.
Nunn asked if they would have an in-kind exchange in which the DDA gave Harvest of the Heart their space in exchange for managing the property.
Hanes said they were willing to consider anything that will give “the best bang for the buck.”
Royal added that when considering somebody who has been in business five years and has been successful, “it’s a no-brainer.”
Madison Councilman Fred Perriman agreed and said it is “a win-win.”
Callahan added that she has identified two possible grants to benefit the Burney Street property.
Callahan then told those present that the DDA’s intergovernmental agreement expires in April so they must pursue a new agreement so that banks can continue giving them a preferred rate.
As to training for DDA members, Chairwoman Shandon Land said that she and Callahan had held a two-hour orientation session for Ed Latham but will have to hold another orientation session with Bobby Crawford. Both men are required to attend an eight-hour training session in January.
Land said that those not needing training may still benefit from attending the session as “it’s a pretty good refresher.”
Callahan added that DDA materials are on the website. She clarified that members must attend eight hours of training in their first year and that those currently serving have attended their necessary training.
Madison recently received a Revitalization Area Strategy (RAS) certification for its Urban Redevelopment Area (URA). Callahan told DDA members that she did not anticipate getting this but that receiving it reflects their “multifaceted strategy for changing the area of investment.”
The RAS lasts for three years and gives them 20 points to the grants they apply for to benefit their URA, making them “super competitive.”
Land recognized Callahan and Nunn for their contributions, service, and creativity for their work pertaining to the RAS certification.
Nunn said that Madison is “proactive for a city our size.”
Callahan then shared details about an upcoming Town Hall meeting for District 1 to be held before Thanksgiving Day. She said residents will be able to share what they want to see in their district as well as help residents understand how upcoming construction projects such as the storm water system will impact them. Other feedback will be welcome as well.
She said she has heard a couple of comments about people wanting to spend grant money in moderate income neighborhoods but said that money from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is supposed to be used in low to moderate income areas. She added that they must use the money where they said they were going to use it.
DDA member Ed Latham said that it would be great if they did so well that they never qualified for low income area grants again.
Land added that storm water improvements are basic necessities, not frills.
Royal then shared details about the Georgia Trust Fall 2013 Ramble, which will be held in Madison. He said they expect 250 to 300 people to come through Madison for this event, which he said is “a wonderful opportunity” that the DDA needs to take advantage of.
Those on the Ramble would like to see a finished, working renovation, as well as something currently being renovated.
He suggested the Norfolk Southern Depot as the location being renovated as the railroad has played an important role in Madison’s history. They have sent out two packets of information and transfer documents to Norfolk Southern, who has agreed to give them the depot in exchange for a smaller, new depot in its place. To date, the documents have not been completed so the transfer of the depots is “in-progress.”
Royal said that the Historic Madison Morgan Foundation has agreed to undertake renovation of the building, including gravel around the property and relocating the depot to a DDA-owned lot. For this to happen, though, they need Norfolk Southern’s cooperation.
Royal said he has heard three to four times in the last four months that the railroad is “working on it.” Now that they have a date for the Ramble, he suggested this might prompt the railroad to take action on the transfer.
Callahan noted that failure to act by the railroad could be cost prohibitive.
Royal finished, “It’s an important part of what the DDA can do.”
Callahan then reminded everyone of the upcoming visit by the BoomTown team Oct. 29-31. The eight-member BoomTown team will be accompanied by a four-member local team as they look over the BoomTown Block, which includes West Washington, First, Academy, and Burnett streets.
They also will look at two buildings, one owned by Sheri and Rolly Clark and the other housed McDowell Grocery. The visit will culminate in a public presentation from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 31 in the County Planning Conference Room.
Callahan has arranged for Madison to serve as the pilot small town for Start-up point Small Business Asset Mapping.
She shared that they are responsible for completing four projects within their BoomTown budget. Their first project will be participating in the free feasibility study when the BoomTown team visits late October.
Their second project will be mapping local resources, including where entrepreneurs need to go in Madison to get permits. This promotional map will be included in startup business packets. Also, it will be online so that it can be updated and “will always be fresh.”
Their third and fourth projects will need to be picked by the first quarter of next year.
Printed in the November 1, 2012 edition.