FaÃade upgrades and loft development tops ADICA to-do list

The ADICA board discuss ongoing projects. / Jessica Fairley

After a year of progress, Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority officials say they're looking forward to the changes that 2013 will bring.

In 2012 faÃade grants helped downtown merchants improve the look of the outside of their businesses. During Wednesday's ADICA meeting, board members voted to extend the facade program through 2013. $50,000 has been set aside for other businesses needing external upgrades.

Although the board has made strides in upgrading the look of the area, they still struggle to get more people interested in downtown Albany. One of the largest projects for 2013 is building more living space.

"If we get some living down here, get a few grocery stores, and get what people need to have a community to live in, I think it is a fantastic start to continue building on what downtown has been building on," said BJ Fletcher, ADICA member and business woman.

ADICA will fund transforming the Albany Theater into several lofts and as they lead the way they're hoping others take advantage of approved low interest loans so they can start building more lofts.

"It puts some of the redevelopment dollars back into the private sector to allow them to get low interest loans to provide lofts," said Aaron Blair, ADICA President.

In addition to the Art Park opening in 2013, another art gallery is expected to open next year. Officials hope to tie the city together with an art walk that leads to the Welcome Center.

"Property owners and artists would come together with an application saying they would like to do this on their building. So this isn't anything that we're doing. We're just facilitating it," said Aaron Blair.

Just as the small changes in 2012 have made a positive difference in the area, Blair is hoping the projects of 2013 will be even greater.

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