New Building to Set Design Standard for WR Downtown | News
"You need to start somewhere." That's the mantra of Warner Robins city leaders when it comes to changing the face of downtown.
Wednesday, they say they got that start with the opening of a new building that they hope becomes a catalyst for redevelopment.
City leaders and members of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon on the Thrifty Car Rental business on Armed Forces Boulevard.
It may be just a car rental center to some, but to Warner Robins Redevelopment Executive Director Gary Lee, it's the beginning of something big.
Lee said, "It's the first phase of our redevelopment plan for this entire area here."
He's talking about the stretch from Commercial Circle to Robins Air Force Base, formerly known as "Jody Town."
Lee explained the name saying, "It was 'Jody' because of the airmen, and this was their 'town'. Bars and clubs and all that was a part of the atmosphere here."
In recent years, some businesses have stayed in the area, many more have moved out, leaving vacant shells, rotting buildings and a less than attractive entrance to Robins Air Force Base.
Geena DuBose, a shop owner on Commercial Circle, did her part for the area's appeal, installing a new store front this summer.
DuBose said, "Were trying to show the life, show the personality, show that were growing out here and draw attention to the area."
She says every improvement adds shine toward polishing this area into an eventual gem.
Lee said, "We needed to take that first step."
He said the new building and the new law enforcement center a block away set the standard for what's to come.
Lee said, "We want to create and bring the private sector back down here, and create new zoning aspects down here, mixed use development, loft type homes, retail on bottom, lofts on top."
He envisions a future that's better than its past and a vast improvement over the present.
The city paid for the construction of the car rental center with a price tag of $144,000. Lee says the business is now leasing from the city.
The city agreed to pay to relocate Thrifty car rental from its Watson Boulevard location, when the space became prime real estate for the new law enforcement center.