Hundreds gathered in Savannah Aug. 15,
at the Historic Lucas Theater to recognize those individuals being
honored at the Georgia Downtown Awards of Excellence Event. This awards
reception held annually in conjunction with the Georgia Downtown
Conference recognizes outstanding achievements in downtown development
by our local communities, volunteers and hard-working downtown
As the premier conference on downtown revitalization in the state, the Georgia Downtown Conference promotes downtown and economic development through public awareness, governmental relations and education. The conference provides an opportunity for downtown and community development professionals and state and local leaders alike to grow their knowledge regarding programs, activities and tools to aid in revitalization efforts.
With more than 50 applications received competition for this year’s awards were fierce but a few outstanding projects stood out amongst the group. This year’s winners received recognition in four different categories including design, promotions, organization and economic development representing the four pillars of the Main Street Four Point Approach. The City of Douglasville, a Main Street community, was the recipient of the Gold Award of Excellence in Economic Development for the Conference Center Construction Project.
In 2006 and 2007, the City of Douglasville began purchasing property to expand the Downtown Conference Center, a historic cotton warehouse that was retrofitted for meeting space and busting at the seams. An expansion of the existing facility would have been a preservation nightmare and not meet the growing needs for space. Rabun Rasche Rector Reece was selected to design a new center that would be developed on the downtown surface parking lot. The plans called for a new deck. The City of Douglasville pledge rental car and hotel taxes to pay the debt on the facility that would include a new downtown parking deck. The project began in October 2011 and on Jan. 19, 2013 the Douglasville Conference Center opened with grandeur in a formal affair for residents, leaders and guests from across the state. Bolstering tourism, assisting to recruit businesses and leading to talk of a boutique downtown hotel, the project has changed the aesthetics of this downtown.
Complete with meeting rooms, a grand ball room, an auditorium, a board room and corridors for entertaining, the facility is a remarkable jewel in the heart of the historic downtown. Billy Peppers, Special Assistant at the Department of Community Affairs, reflected that “It would be impossible to recognize all of the many accomplishments achieved by our downtown communities but this year’s award recipients represent the cream of the crop in Georgia.”