City makes use of state’s planning tools
By Stephanie Johns
State 112 District Rep. Doug Holt and District 25 Senator Burt Jones (R) listened as Madison City Planner Monica Callahan spoke about how the city uses the tools provided by the state during Friday’s Hometown Connection meeting.
“We’ve built on the tools you’ve provided,” she said. “We’re good about promotion and economic restructuring.”
Those tools include the Main Street Community designation that Madison has had since 1985.
The city’s most recent project: Town Park, a $4.5 million event facility and allowed the city to recapture greenspace and serve as a catalyst for additional development.
She said the park served as “the single biggest growth for the city and the county for two years running,” providing a 200 percent increase in their tax base.
The next project she spoke about: Jefferson Square Parkside, a $3.8 million mixed-use facility that was designed by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and then turned over to a contractor.
One of their earliest projects: Walker Rose Lane. Callahan said the older, original homes were replaced with attractive, historical style replica homes.
For future projects, Callahan said they are looking into “mixed housing” such as “patio homes” with one unit up and one down as well as “four behind the door” with access to four separate homes behind one front door.
The city’s Urban Renewal Area (URA) is a 400-acre area that overlays downtown Madison. Within this area are pipe farms and areas of slum and blight. They would like to use DDA as the tool to improve this area, she said.
She noted that the community is “really good about using its volunteer skill set” and that volunteer firefighters save them $4 million each year.
Yet another tool they use: BoomTown. Callahan said the state sent Madison a team of 12 people to look at “opportunity zones” or areas of slum and blight. This team then shared details about possible funding sources to help improve those areas.
She urged Holt and Jones to take note of the “Renaissance Act” that will come up during their next legislative session. The Georgia Municipal Association advocated for this program, she said. The program offers tax credits for making investments in existing buildings downtown.
“It’s an opportunity for every building to be redeveloped,” she said.
Madison Councilman Michael Naples credited Callahan as one with “expertise and vision.”
Marcia Rubensohn, Deputy Director of Government Relations with the Georgia Municipal Association, said Madison has “one of the state’s preeminent experts” in Callahan.
Printed in the December 13, 2012 edition