Attorney Robert Mikell, the chairman of the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, is heading a new initiative to begin revitalizing South Main Street in between downtown Statesboro and GSU’s campus.
“The Downtown Statesboro Development Authority is a separate state constitutional authority designated with the task to redevelop downtown and make downtown a vibrant place to live, work and play.”
“For the current project that we’re working on, there is a group of community leaders who are working with the local governments, authorities and organizations to specifically target South Main Street: the street between Georgia Southern University and downtown.
“It’s this prominent one-mile stretch and we’re trying to get new businesses here and improve the quality of life in the residential areas next to it. We’re working with habitat and local contractors. We’ll be trying to refurbish and rehab houses there; we’ve even been talking to the YMCA of Coastal Georgia about getting a potential branch down here in Statesboro. Of course we’re always looking for ways to expand our walking and biking trails as well as our green space and park areas.”
How to Make it Happen
“Basically, you take a snap shot of what all the property value in this area is worth before you begin on a new project and after to see what it could be. It’s not raising taxes, more like all the new projects will bring in new taxes and that is the revenue that will go back into the district. It’s revitalizing itself.”
“As the area continues to grow, the funds that are raised in that district can be paid for parks, public infrastructure, sidewalks and things like that. Most of the establishments on South Main right now are privately owned so we can’t force anyone to do anything, so through this referendum we’ll create incentives to get people to sell or redevelop their property. In particular, we’re working on a potential dog park on the walking trail.”
“We’re looking at some vacant properties and trying to get restaurants into them. We’re trying to talk to students, community leaders and property owners to let them know of the kind of brand and the feel of all this.”
How You Can Help
“Trying to find something for everyone is the key and, obviously, feedback from students is important because there are three or four major apartment complexes located very close; the Forum, Monarch and 111[South] are right there so it would only be about a half mile away from several thousand students.”
“The biggest thing that students can do to help is vote ‘yes’ to the Georgia Redevelopment Powers law, which will give us the ability to reallocate some of these funds. We work very closely with the Office of Student Leadership and Office of Civic Engagement, and they’ve helped us with some of the projects we’ve rehabilitated downtown. Mainly just coming to the farmer’s market and coming downtown to spread their interests a bit would help.”
“What we’re trying to do with the South Main effort is bring downtown to campus. They need to start to venture out and see what we have, that’s the only way it will begin to grow.”