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Whistle-Stop (3/14)



  1. For anyone interested in historic preservation, the Riverdale-Porterdale Cemetery has obtained a challenge grant to make improvements and beautify that old Victorian-era cemetery. The plans are to renovate the lovely carriage house and fountain at the entrance, work with Trees Columbus to add new foliage, build era-approriate gates at entrances and replace fencing with more aesthetically pleasing alternative. Anyone who has family members buried there -- and most long-term Columbusites do -- should consider making a tax free donation which will then be matched dolar-for-dollar. The Challenge lasts thru end of the year and those interested can contact the cemetery directly
  2. public forum set for tues 4-6 pm on final proposal to widen Warm Springs from Hilton to Med Ctr. This is the revised plan, so that hopefully this project will finally be underway soon. Anyone who drives that section of WS knows that widening/improvements are long overdue.
  3. Work on Macon Rd City Center to start next year. The Center includes: $12.5M Citizen Service Building -- Council Room, tax and voting offices, etc $10.5M Natatorium (pool) $9.5M Parking garage Altho three separate buildings are considered as one project. At completion will join the Library as evidencing major civic commitment to mid-town area.
  4. Several announcements of new jobs/employment in recent weeks NCR adding two new production lines and 150 new jobs. That raises emploment to 400, with 870 the target number when full production reached NCR also adding 90 new hirees to its new call center, bringing emplyment up to 150. NCR recently closed its call center in SC and announced movement of jobs from there to Ga -- presumably here. The SC facility had 330 positions so the job center may get even more slots in the future. Fresh Mkt is hiring for its new store in Bradley Park. About 90 positions are expected to be filled Kysor/Warren is adding 200 new jobs at its refrigeration equipment mfg plant. That will bring employment there to approximately 1000. Small steps but better than losing a comparable number of jobs. In the "wait and see" category there is buzz surrounding the old Baker Hi property. Seems that a Hollywood producer -- Columbusite Daniel Diaz of Papillon Studios -- has expressed interest in the tract for a production studio. Would add 3000 new jobs. He and Rep. S. Bishop have applied for $34 M in atimulus funds as seed money to get started.
  5. Diversification a must. Thank god for aflac and tsys. If not for them columbus would already look like ghost town after demise of mills. Need hi tech mfg. Huge chip maker like intel or amd would be god-send. Hope ncr is start of flood of similar job creating concerns moving in. Doubt benning ever closed. But could be downsized and will be great if and when military is simply one of economic engines and not predominent one
  6. Wout benning columbus would be city of 140k -- or less. Explains why dt so small, bldgs so short, etc. Of all nc cities columbus most like fayetteville. Big military presence explains a lot for both. Even at that fville may have advantage of being close to hipper triangle ambiance
  7. Th believe that columbus would look more like WS -- if it were more like WS. Unless I am mistaken, however, WS is not so close to a military establishment as we are. A LOT of the infrastructure that would be located in town (ie, urban area) is actually located on post out of sight and out of mind of most of us civilians. Like the hospital, PX and Commissary. If those and othe post facilities were private or non-military then they would be a part of the Columbus landscape as they are in WS. Long story short, altho Columbus has same population as WS, a large part of it is military-oriented and has nothing to do with the town per se. Columbus does not have a civilian population nearly as large as WS and does not, therefore, seem as large or urban. As such it cannot and does not support the same type of new urbanism as WS Also I am beating a dead horse but WS has better transportation, ie interstate, connection and this too adds to the urban ambiance and encourages the type of development that has become fashionable of late. In addition I am not discounting the cultural factor. Columbus is certainly less "hip" than similar sized cities, especially those in NC which has a large educated class in and around the Triangle-area. New ideas take longer to get here and even longer to become accepted.
  8. Correct to say that Columbus has merely been "keeping up." But consider this. The city has been dealing with its ties to a dying industry -- textiles. Under the circumstances, keeping up is pretty remarkable. The city has had to replace jobs on a one-to-one basis for each that was lost when the mills closed. Hard to name any other city which has had to deal with a dying industry and not actually fallen sharply. Of similar cities in the South that have risen from the ashes of the death of textiles I can think of only one that has actually grown and prospered -- Greenville SC. And that is because -- in my opinion -- Greenville is in an ideal location between SE and NE -- and has excellent transportation connections via interstate. Things which we lack. Not a fluke that Columbus has emulated Greenville -- ie, RiverCenter -- in seeking to bounce back from the textile debacle. Greenville sets the bar. In Georgia, Augusta and Macon had ties to textiles (tho maybe not as great as here) and neither of them has boomed to the same extent as Raleigh (state capital), Knoxville (UT) or other cities which had more diversified economies and did not have to cope with a loss of its major industry. When compared to -- say Detroit MI or Gary IN, keeping up looks pretty good. When textiles left the NE for cheap southern labor, the textile towns there (Lowell, Mass etc) never really recovered their former glory. Now that textiles have left the south for cheap foreign labor, it remains to be seen where the former textile cities here will eventually grow or decline. But stabilization is a good start for an eventual recovery. While the city may have just been keeping up economically and population-wise, there can be no doubt that it is now a very different place in terms of infrastructure. Other cities now come here to take a look at the RiverCenter, Riverwalk, etc with hopes of emulating. Dont know what it is about fixation on tall buildings -- I am more in the Prince Charles -- keep it classic -- school than the sterile glass box camp. IMHO -- the 20-story AFLAC building -- which I can see from my front porch -- is an eyesore, whereas the 5-story Empire Building is a jewel. However, there will probably be taller buildings built here in the next decade -- but I hope they are mostly on the PC side (which does not have that many historic sites to conserve) or on empty lots which can accomodate a classic building -- think architecture of the Chrysler Bldg or Empire State (not AFLAC) -- like the lot @ 13th and Broad next to Country's. AS I have said before, if it were up to me, I would leave DT for "classic" (re)development and encourage more modern and taller buildings to the north along the 2d Ave corridor to Bibb City. That is a blighted area which cries out for teardown and rehab. Consider Atl -- which has lots of tall buildings (many of which are now empty shells) and empty lots where there were once beautiful old buildings which could have been preserved and refitted. Trading the Fox for another highrise -- as was once proposed -- is not my idea of progress. When compared to "what progress has destroyed,""what progress has preserved" looks pretty good to me. Believe that a mayor can make a HUGE difference in a city's progress. Look at Guilliani in NYC or Hartsfield/Allen in Atl. If the people of Columbus were dead set on keeping things exactly the way they were, then they would not have built a new library, convention center, rivercenter, etc and passed almost every call to increase taxes to build the intrastructure that now exists. I firmly believe that with the right leadership the next years could be a time when Columbus plays catchup with other cities that admittedly passed it by in the last decades.
  9. Agree that defeat of TAD was a BIG mistake. However, as I recall, old TAD law was shortly thereafter overturned by the Supreme Court? So not sure that, even if enacted, TAD would have been of any present value (nothing to grandfater in). But is still correct to say that Columbus is remiss in failing to bring to another vote under new TAD law. The problem was that the City utterly failed to explain TAD to the voters. Needed more time to explain it to the electorate and assumed that a good idea would sell itself. I was stunned to talk to seemingly intelligent voters who opposed TAD for misguided reasons. It was defeated in the affluent northern burbs essentially on the ground that they would be "paying" for blighted areas. Actually tax abatement would not "cost" anything as blighted areas were not paying significant taxes. The concept that turning blighted areas into tax-productive parcels as a long-range plan never took hold. The prevelant mood was that TAD would be used to build low-rent (in all senses) "projects" at taxpayer expense. Probably reason that there is no new vote is that government has the "once burned, twice shy" syndrome. Hopefully a new mayor will be more progressive and proactive in this -- and other -- regards. A missed opportunity if not done soon after elections are held in Fall. By the way, the similar "build it, they will come" syndrome has infected the City in other ways and may explain why there has not been expected private capital followthru on public expenditures. Cannot ASSUME that folks will flock to use facilities. Columbus needs to promote itself as a viable destination -- like Chattanooga does in the Atl (and I assume in Bham, etc) mkt. I suppose that expense is the excuse for failing to promote more aggressively -- but unless you have viable mkting then facilities are not being put to higest and best use. To my mind Columbus needs atleast one more gigantic infusion of public money -- getting us on the interstate hwy system. It makes NO sense to me why there is not an allout push to get a short connection to I-85 in Tuskeegee and I-16 in Macon ASAP. Long range we NEED connection to B'ham-Brunswick, extension of I-185 south to Fla. and a new connection between I-75 at Cartersville and I-185 in La Grange to provide a trans-Ga route to Fla that bypasses Atl. I simply cannot understand why the CofC and our federal and local representatives do not make this a urgent priority. Makes NO sense to have expended all the money on local infrastructure when it is still a pain in the butt to get here from there!!!! Not to mention the security aspects of connecting Ft Benning with the rest of the country. Bottom line -- I suspect that the missing parts of the puzzle are: end of the Great Recession; new interstate connectionS (plural); intense mkting; and new dynamic mayor who will jump start the next phase of growth. Really wish lurkers on this site would join in the discussion and add to the debate. Would be interesting to see what other Columbusites -- and other Georgia/Alabama folks think of present and future outlook for CSG.
  10. Granted there has been a ton of public money spent in DT Columbus. Have no idea how much or ratio to private investment -- but really not surprising that big ticket items (RiverCenter,Trade Center etc) are publically funded. Smaller private concerns (bars, cafes, etc) surely represent -- on individual basis -- less capital outlay, but collectively would comprise a fairly large amount I would assume. There are alot of those private mom-and-pop concerns DT now. If think about it, probably was necessary that public money be spent initially to create infrastructure to support and build a base in order for private capital ultimately to be risked. That is especially true in a smaller town like Columbus which -- unlike Atlanta -- did not have numerous larger commercial concerns like banks and insurance companies -- to stem the tide of decentralization when it began to occur in the 60's and 70's. When retail moved out of DT here, manufacturing (mills) remained and when the mills folded, DT was desolate. Atlanta was never a big mfg center and when Lenox opened there were plenty of big players left -- Coke, C&S, Ga State etc. to keep DT afloat. When Columbus DT hit bottom, it needed a transplant, not merely CPR. Hence the big infusion of public funds. (Of course alot of public money went to DT Atlanta as well -- Underground, etc.) Once a reasonable amount of intrastructure was in place DT, the economy hit the skids. Cannot help but think that DT would be dotted with more private investments if the crash had not occurred just when everything was in place for that to happen. Who wants to invest money when the financial world is in turmoil, not to mention that credit became and still is) tight and almost impossible to find for speculation. That said, there does seem to be a shift such that more private funds may be invested -- Empire Building (which I presume is all or mostly private), E&P Condo (WC Bradley), Rialto, etc. I presume that the Phenixian Condo will become a reality someday (still listed on Gilly website last time I looked) and I hear that there are several big projects being discussed and may be trotted out if and when the ecomony swings back upwards and the money tap is loosened. Dont want to sound like Pollyanna but with Whitewater think that ALL of the ducks may finally be in a row -- rafting, museums, clubs, theater -- to give Columbus an opportunity to become a weekend destination (like Chattanooga) which will support more and more private expenditures on DT projects -- so long as the economy rises from the ashes.
  11. NEW FLIGHTS!!!! Beginning July 15 American Eagle (American Airlines Regional carrier) will have two flights a day between CSG and Dallas. Mornong and afternoon flights to Dallas. Afternoon and evening flights from Dallas. Great news!!! Let's hope that this service catches on and that new service to Charlottte, NYC and DC will be coming soon!
  12. WHITEWATER ---- FINALLY!!!!! Specifics of project announced 2.5 miles -- 35th St to 11th St Cost -- 23M Annual economic impact -- up to 42M Jobs -- 700 Annual Visitors -- 188k (144k out-of-town) Lodging taxes -- 300k Sales tax -- 1.7 M Construction Schedule -- May 2011- 2012 "World Class" when river at full flow
  13. WHITEWATER NEWS AT LAST!!!! WBRL reported that financining in the amount of $23 million has finally been obtained for the whitewater project. The Chamber of Commerce will have official announcement in May or June. But seems that a contractor has already been employed and ground-breaking (actually, dam-breaking) will be in early 2011. Preliminarily, will be 2-mile course and one of few urban whitewater routes in the entire country. This has been a LONG time coming and hope that it comes off. Could be tipping point that makes DT a weekend destination for ATL, B'ham, etc -- much like the aquarium was in Chattanooga. Meanwhile fund raising continues with a view towards making course a premier route drawing national attendees. Can go to WRBL website for video report which includes interview with CofC head, as well as mockups of course and old 14th St bridge in its new pedestrian iteration.
  14. Excellent news for Macon! Congrats!
  15. quite right -- anyone know when the 2007 estimates for counties will be out? Seems like it is usually in March-April period.
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