By Tia Lynn Ivey
After five years of courting the properties that comprise the West Washington Gateway in Madison, The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has finally acquired all the parcels necessary to move forward with the $1.6 million stormwater project.
The DDA purchased the Clark Family parcels, six in total, for $800,000. The recently purchased property included the EZ Bottle Shop liquor store and the point that meets on West Washington Street and Jefferson Street.
The liquor store’s building will be demolished, along with the building that houses Adrian’s Place, but both businesses will remain, taking up residence in a newly constructed building that is planned to be completed at 325 West Washington Street after the old buildings are demolished.
The DDA now owns 20 parcels spanning 40 acres of land in the West Washington Gateway, acquired through purchases, bargain sales, and donations, and will begin demolition and the removal of hazardous material before the end of the year.
“This means that the DDA will be able to now proceed with their congregant stormwater project, which will entail upgrading the underground stormwater pipes on Washington and Jefferson streets and the creation of an open above-ground wet pond adjacent to Richter Cottage,” said Director of Madison City Planning Monica Callahan.
The project will not only require demolition and the removal of hazardous materials, but also mass grading.
The stormwater project is being funded through a $1.6 million Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) loan that covers the cost of both the stormwater project and the acquisition of the parcels in the West Washington Gateway. Madison was approved at an exceptionally low interest rate—1 percent for 20 years—because of the city’s PlanFirst Community designation. Madison was one of the first ten cities in Georgia to earn the title.
According to Callahan, this project, once completed, will transform the deteriorated West Washington Gateway into a viable and beautified corner of the community, ready for the private market to set up shop.
“It’s going to enable the West Washington Gateway to redevelop and start contributing to the tax base again as it redevelops. Hopefully by the end of the year, you will see everything across from the liquor store will be gone, and construction on the project will start in the Spring of 2017,” said Callahan. “It’s not the sexiest project, since most of the stormwater work is done underground, but the wet pond, designed by Wes Ryals and his team at Georgia Civil, will include a wetland area as well as a retention pond. It is going to be beautiful. It not only holds stormwater, but it will be a nice recreational resource.”
Callahan is proud of the DDA’s diligence in acquiring all the properties necessary for the stormwater project.
The City did not have to resort to condemnation to make this project happen. With all the slum and blight areas in the West Washington Gateway, it could have warranted it, but the city did not engage in any condemnation to get these parcels. “It’s remarkable,” noted Callahan.
The city hopes this project will serve multiple benefits for the community.
“We are trying to take every dollar and make it serve a three-fold purpose, which would be improvement of stormwater facilities, redevelopment opportunities for the private market, and another lovely recreational space as a buffer next to our cemetery,” said Callahan. “It’s all about infrastructure. It’s the most unsexy project you will ever hear about, but it will set the stage for the growth and future development of Madison.”