City leaders adopt Downtown Fayetteville Market Analysis as ‘planning tool’

A newly published Fayetteville Downtown Market Analysis reveals ideas to use the city's historic downtown to attract economic development into the city. (Staff photo by Danny Harrison)

A newly published Fayetteville Downtown Market Analysis reveals ideas to use the city’s historic downtown to attract economic development into the city. It also suggests doing away with the city’s one-way streets. (Staff photo by Danny Harrison)

A downtown market analysis completed for the City of Fayetteville was presented and adopted Thursday night at the city council meeting. City leaders were told their best bet in boosting the city’s attractiveness is to focus on enhancing the Old Courthouse Square and to encourage an appropriate housing development mix.

According to Fayetteville Economic Development Director Brian Wismer, the point of the study, which was launched in March and only recently completed, is “to identify the most appropriate development program for Downtown Fayetteville.”

Ben King, a senior consultant for Noell Consulting Group, said one way Fayetteville can enhance the downtown experience is to “clean up the street language,” which is consultant-speak for doing away with one-way streets while making the district more navigable.

Wismer said the city has for a while looked at the same thing: returning key roadways such as Hwy. 54 into two-way thoroughfares in an effort to bring a small-town feel back to the downtown area.

King complimented Fayetteville on its on-the-square restaurant scene and called it something worth expanding.

“Infrastructure improvements emphasizing walkability and connectivity around the square can leverage this asset and catalyze new development sites,” the report says.

A good deal of attention was given to so-called “empty nesters,” who are typically in their 60s and older and still living in homes large enough to raise families. The report suggests upscale condominiums built within walking distance to the Old Courthouse Square would be a good idea to attract these seniors who want to stay in the area but don’t want to keep up larger homes and yards. Then, of course, those desirable residential properties could go back on the market, which would attract younger, working-age families.

Another big idea encased in the study was to consider connecting the city’s existing walking paths and adding to them, perhaps in a manner that borrows from Atlanta’s Beltline project, in order enhance the city’s recreational offerings. Wismer noted after the meeting that community leaders county-wide are in agreement that recreational path interconnectivity is something to be pursued in the near future.

Mayor Ed Johnson said Thursday night that he and his colleagues look forward to studying the study to mine it for ideas, but he noted its ideas are in no way binding. In fact, his call for a motion to adopt the study was prefaced by wording making it clear it was simply an advisory document.

Just the same, Johnson and other city leaders said they believe it is a good document that will serve as a valuable tool to shape conversations moving forward. Johnson called it a “tool for planning.”

Those interested can download the entire, 70-page Downtown Fayetteville Market Analysis at www.fayetteville-ga.gov. A link to the document is located on the home page.

Further analysis of the report will be featured in future editions of Fayette County News and Today in Peachtree City.

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