By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Downtown Development Authority of Madison (DDA) discussed decisions regarding the development of the Central of Georgia Depot project as it enters its second phase. The discussion focused on whether the DDA will allow private enterprises to occupy the Depot once it is fully rehabilitated. Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan said that the decision on whether the DDA would support private businesses in the Depot is the “crux” of the issues facing the DDA as it moves forward with the Depot project. Callahan noted that the Depot project started out as a community development project, as opposed to an economic development project.

Economic development projects differ from community development projects in that their primary objective is for the DDA to earn a return on their investment. DDA Member Everett Royal said that he would like the Depot project to remain a community development project, but DDA Member Clifton Hanes said that he would be willing to allow the Depot to go to the “highest and best project,” regardless of what type of enterprise it is. Hanes said that the DDA should “flip it to another entity, whether public or private,” in order to the DDA to “clear its money.” He added that he would like to see the Depot Committee come up with a 5-year plan to help the DDA make an informed decision about the direction the project should take. “There are a lot of moving pieces,” said Hanes. “I can support a lot of things.” The group also discussed how to allocate costs related to on-site and off-site improvements between three lots related to the Depot project. Group members asked Callahan to calculate costs per lot based simply on acreage and then costs divided with on-site costs being divided by acreage and off-site costs being divided by roadway linear footage.

Callahan said that she would prepare the costs before the DDA’s next meeting, noting that the differences in the allocations are “going to be pretty close.” The DDA held two votes after an executive session. The first was to authorize the city attorney to draft an intergovernmental agreement between the DDA and the city of Madison and a resolution to finance a property acquisition on behalf of the city of Madison based on the terms discussed during the executive session. The second vote was to authorize the city attorney to draft a memorandum of understanding concerning a potential joint property acquisition between the DDA and Habitat for Humanity.