The City of Hogansville held the second of two public forums Thursday night to develop a downtown revitalization plan.
The forum was held at the Hogansville Public Library and hosted by the Downtown Development Authority in conjunction with the Georgia Conservancy.
The purpose of the event was to get feedback on potential steps that could be taken to revitalize the downtown area, primarily the West Main Street and Commerce Street area. An update was also given from Carter Watkins Associates, the architects working on the Royal Theater restoration conceptual plan.
The city hopes to improve the downtown area with ideas from the Georgia Conservancy, who are teaming with Canvas Planning and Village Green Consulting to develop a master plan for revitalizing Hogansville.
The planners acknowledged that Hogansville has a number of hurdles to overcome in order to restore business in the downtown area. Unlike today, the core of Hogansville was built when most people shopped within walking distance of where they live. Now people drive to big box stores or order things online.
They also noted that Hogansville has a retail gap of about of about $12 million, meaning that Hogansville residents spend about a 25 percent more in retail purchases than the city receives in retail sales.
One idea to restore sales in Hogansville is to develop destination retail. These days you can get almost anything delivered to your door by Amazon or if you are in a hurry, there’s always Walmart. The only way for a small town like Hogansville to compete is to provide something that they can’t. The planners suggested developing unique stores with specialty products and destination restaurants that people are willing to drive to.
In the previous planning meeting, the planners suggested beautifying the city with colorful doors or leaning into the hummingbird theme with a bird garden or erecting bird houses, baths, and feeders. They suggested painting murals on the sides of buildings an even on the roadway on Commerce Street.
One idea that quickly got some blowback was a potential enlarging of the downtown park area. The idea was for one big park named Hummingbird Park across from city hall. The plan for the park was well intentioned, but the idea called for the removal of two private property houses that the city doesn’t own.
The architects from Carter Watkins also provided a presentation on necessary renovations to the Royal Theatre building.
The city has discussed potentially renovating the building for better use for city hall or to restore it to be a theater space. In the coming weeks the architects will develop plans to either remodel it into a better city hall space or to restore it to its original glory as a theater space. The city will also consider plans to sell the property or do minimal work to fix current issues.
Regardless of renovation plans, the building needs a new roof, which is expected to cost about $150,000.
In the coming weeks the Georgia Conservancy will draft a plan using feedback from the public, city stakeholders, and city staff. The master plan is scheduled to be finalized in March.