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Community leaders plan future of downtown Adel

Lisa Collins, executive director of the Cook County Economic Development Commission, recently discussed downtown Adel goals during a PlanFirst program presentation by the City of Adel.


“One of Adel’s community goals is ensuring the best living environment possible for our citizens through a mixture of compatible land uses and character areas,” she said.


Ms. Collins zeroed in on the downtown area of Adel and the community’s challenge through the Greater Cook County 2030 Comprehensive Plan to provide for a downtown development coordinator to take the lead on the development of this area.


In spring 2017, the Adel City Council restructured the Adel Downtown Development Authority. The seven members of the newly restructured DDA were charged with coming up with a plan for the downtown area. They immediately went to work, and over a five-month period, this group established a Strategic Plan for downtown Adel, complete with a Vision and Mission statement, goals, objectives, and strategies for five- to seven-year period. The DDA plan fits “like a hand in a glove” with the comprehensive plan, Ms. Collins said.


The vision statement for downtown Adel states that this area will become a dynamic and inviting destination that meshes the historic with the contemporary, both architecturally and aesthetically. Downtown Adel will become a place to live, as well as welcome locals and visitors alike to work, shop, dine, worship, and play in a clean, landscaped, charming, and techfriendly environment.


The Strategic Plan further states that a full-time downtown development manager will be hired to implement the strategic plan and to work to secure a Main Street designation for Adel.


The plan calls for continued historic preservation of structures in the area and a corridor redevelopment study for Highway 37 from I-75 into the downtown area. The corridor redevelopment plan will address such issues as signage coordination, sidewalk improvements, facade improvements, a billboard plan, adaptive reuse of properties, blight removal, and underground utilities.


However, to accomplish the corridor redevelopment plan, the Adel City Council needs to approve two things:

- Funding for the DDA Strategic Plan; and

- Expanding the boundaries of the downtown area to include the major corridors into downtown Adel, so the DDA may address the areas of need. “We cannot start too soon!” Ms. Collins said, noting the problem of urban sprawl.


The DDA Strategic Plan also calls for the City of Adel, through the DDA, or some other entity, to purchase distressed, dilapidated, and blighted buildings in the newly reformed downtown area for the purpose of resale, lease, and removal of buildings, and the creation of greenspace.


The successful Uptown Columbus redevelopment program started with the purchase, sale, and swap of buildings.


The Adel City Council voted unanimously during the Monday, Oct. 16, meeting, to approve a three-year development plan for downtown Adel with an estimated project cost of more than $200,000.


Downtown Development Authority Chairman Jerry Connell reiterated three main points of the strategic plan, including:

- Hiring a full-time Downtown Development Manager. “That is Step 1 to getting Main Street designation,” he said.

- Implementing Corridor Redevelopment Plan studies for I-75 Exit 39 (Fourth Street) and Exit 37 (Old Quitman Road), where the new hospital will be built as well as possibly a new hotel/conference center.

- Expanding the boundaries of the DDA’s area of responsibility from a few blocks to include the major corridors into downtown Adel, so the DDA can help meet more needs.


The DDA attended a recent City budget work session during which the funding needed for revitalizing the downtown area was discussed, Connell said. “All that is left to do is begin.”


City Manager John Flythe said the total budget discussed for that effort is $202,633.88, with $135,000 allotted for special projects. The funding would include a corridor redevelopment study, with the possibility of grant funds being obtained as well so the amount could change. About $70,000 is the amount needed at this time for salary and benefits to hire a full-time Downtown Development Manager, Flythe said. The recommendation was for a three-year cap and then re-evaluating to see if the City wants to continue with the downtown development plan.


Flythe added that the average salary for someone in the downtown development position in a city of Adel’s size and population is $45,000 annually. The Downtown Development Manager would be a City of Adel employee and would be housed at the Chamber of Commerce offices, Flythe said.


First impressions mean a lot when dealing with commercial and industrial prospects, the city manager remarked about downtown Adel. He noted the high volume of vehicle traffic that flows downtown. “The buzz across the state is what is happening in Adel, Ga.,” he said.


Lisa Collins agreed, pointing out that Gov. Nathan Deal is placing a lot of emphasis on rural development for fostering economic development in Georgia. With such community successes as the new hospital project putting Cook County on the map, “the Department of Community Affairs Commissioner sees Adel and Cook County as a poster child for rural development in Georgia,” Ms. Collins said. She added, “I am excited that we have people willing to stick their necks out for this community. I promise you it won’t be in vain.”


Council Member Greg Paige made a motion, seconded by Council Member Jody Greene, to approve the three-year Downtown Development plan. The vote in favor was unanimous.

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