0

Site choices selected for transit facility

The Trailways bus station at 300 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. is one of the sites under consideration for a multimodal transit facility. (Jan. 11, 2013)

The Trailways bus station at 300 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. is one of the sites under consideration for a multimodal transit facility. (Jan. 11, 2013)

ALBANY, Ga. -- For many here, the mere mention of the term "multimodal transit facility" is cause for consternation, conjuring images of a political albatross that has hung around the city's neck for going on 12 years.

A renewed effort to not only finalize a site for the city's transit system but to get the project off the drawing board and under construction, however, has officials optimistic that the nightmare that has surrounded the proposed multimodal facility may be actually moving toward a conclusion.

photo

The old China Palace at 301 E. Oglethorpe Blvd. is being considered for the new transit center. (Jan. 11, 2013)

"This ongoing project has clearly left a bad taste in people's mouths," Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said a couple of days after introducing four proposed sites for the facility to Albany city commissioners. "A lot of time has expired -- 11 years now -- and there has been a lot of confusion. But I think once we get this built, the people will be happy."

In the decade-plus since the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration got on board to help provide funding for a proposed multimodal transportation facility in Albany, the project has met stumbling block after stumbling block. Talks and negotiations that carried over through a number of administrations on the fifth floor of the Government Center appeared to have reached a level of clarity two years ago when the City Commission approved a site at the corner of Flint Avenue and Washington Street. But the possibility that digging on the site might disturb Native American artifacts arose early in the process and brought progress to a sudden and stunning halt.

photo

The former Carmike theater building at 1121 Gillionville is a possible location for the multimodal transit center. (Jan. 11, 2013)

The commission voted to discontinue work at the site, in the process giving up some $3.5 million in guaranteed funding and rendering another $75,000 already spent useless.

But Smith, who along with city Transit Director David Hamilton met with a planning team from Richmond, Va.-based Wendel Companies Monday and Tuesday, has led efforts to get the project not only back on the drawing board, but under construction and ultimately finished.

Smith offered four sites for the City Commission's consideration at that body's work session Tuesday: land at 301 E. Oglethorpe Blvd., on which the defunct China Palace restaurant and part of the adjacent Budget Inn now sit; the Destiny Tours/Trailways bus depot at 300 Oglethorpe Blvd.; the location of the recently demolished Heritage House hotel at 732 W. Oglethorpe Blvd., and the former Carmike Cinema site at 1121 Gillionville Road.

photo

The site of the demolished Heritage House at 732 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. could be chosen for the news transit center.

The Wendel team -- an economic developer, a team leader, an architect and a transit architect -- thoroughly scrutinized all four sites, compiling a list of pros and cons associated with each. Smith, Hamilton and other city leaders will now use that and additional information to complete a cost analysis for each site.

"The consultants gave us fairly significant pros and cons with each location," Smith said. "We're taking a pass-fail approach in evaluating each, trying to come up with a clearer picture for commissioners to consider. We've added economic impact and order of magnitude -- including cost comparisons for each site -- elements to provide commissioners an exceptional comparison analysis on which to make their decision.

"We want to provide the tools that will allow them to make a decision with their eyes wide open."

Hamilton said each of the sites has the potential to meet the city's needs, but he also says each has challenges. Some of the positives noted by Wendel's team include the proximity to Albany State University (China Palace/Budget Inn), downtown location (existing transit center), land owned by city (Heritage House) and proximity to retail outlets (Carmike). Negatives include relocation issues (China Palace/Budget), ingress/egress issues (existing center), taxable private development interest (Heritage) and must purchase land (Carmike).

"I think the team did an outstanding job of evaluating the sites," Hamilton said. "We're excited about receiving the final report, hopefully in about three weeks. The major first step in this process is selecting a site. If we get that done, show GDOT we're making progress, I think they're going to work with us on the funding.

"It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I'm confident we can move forward with a plan that's in everyone's best interest."

Comments

MRKIA 1 year, 11 months ago

THE CARMIKE LOCATION SEEMS TO BE THE LOGICAL CHOICE IF THIS HAS TO BE DONE.

0

ustaknow 1 year, 11 months ago

I think the Carmike theater offers the best ingress and egress with exit points in all directions. Secondly with the Grocery store and drug store right in front of the theater The close proximity of the grocery store,drug store and bank would create an efficiency born out of convenience that none of the other locations offer.

  just my two cents...
0

chinaberry25 1 year, 11 months ago

Depends on what official owns the land will be where it will be located. Nothing practical will enter the selection process unless it is a coincidence.

0

VSU 1 year, 11 months ago

If they chose the old carmike, or the old China Place if anything it would speed up the process of demolishing one eyesore. The Heritage house eyesore has already been demolished.

0

whattheheck 1 year, 11 months ago

The Carmike property has a tax value of over $800,000 and will require demolition--can you say "Heritage House" all over again? The China Palace property now owned by Metro Bank and is very small so perhaps it would require buying the old HoJo motel next door from a different owner and wipeout. The existing location will be a Destiny/Capitol City buyout with heavy renovation costs etc. Looks like wasting the HH property on the venture will be the most cost effective choice from land acquisition standpoint, unless of course helping friends help friends overrides all.

1

VSU 1 year, 11 months ago

Well at some point they need to demolish those eyesores, it's gonna cost either way. However that is big property where the HH used to be and is just down the street from the current terminal.

0

dingleberry 1 year, 11 months ago

Why not lets go back to a past procedure and let the owner pay for it? Ameris Bank paid for the Pritchett demise. If a bank now owns the China Palace let them do it. And let Carmike who gives us no break on movies take care of their own trash.

2

dingleberry 1 year, 11 months ago

"It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I'm confident we can move forward with a plan that's in everyone's best interest."

Right Mr Hamilton, once all the interests and BFFs can be established, we can move forward. The part of "everyone's best interest" has been eluding the whole process for a decade and will not be solved before it is built.

1

whattheheck 1 year, 11 months ago

If a proper analysis is to be made, I hope that operation and maintenance costs are looked at along with the usual construction and start up costs. Generally, financial concerns seem limited to a project's acquisition costs which is why we wind up in a bound later as with the RQ and ACRI. Although not entities of the city, such costs are basically what we are subsidizing now in their fund requests.

2

BettyBowTie 1 year, 11 months ago

Pave the lot where the HH was, put a section of roof on posts (pavilion) and a few benches and call it done. We don't need it, why put a building there at all?

0

BettyBowTie 1 year, 11 months ago

I have little hope that any remotely good decision will be made by any "leaders" here. I live for the day I can sell my house and leave this town. Too bad I will have to return eventually as my burial plot is here lol.

0

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

Somebody remind me again why a new multi million dollar building is needed??

0

FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

Hmmm. Lessee . . . . ahhh. . . shucks . . . It'll come to me. Oh yeah, we can spend some more money. Howse that? Sound about right?

0

FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

Why in the world would somebody even consider putting a major transportation facility at the old Carmike theater location? There are wrecks there all the time. The RR gates open and close frequently. Traffic congestion is pretty dangerous there. Somebody is asleep at the switch. Is this a function of the feudal system? Is this owned by one of fat overlords?

0

Sign in to comment