Shopping plaza in the works for downtown Albany

A TAD subcommittee is reviewing a proposal to bring a shopping center, Oglethorpe Crossing, to downtown Albany

He may be the Downtown Manager, but Aaron Blair seems to be taking on another role.

"For the past two days I've just walked around and showed store fronts to people non-stop. I'm almost a real estate agent right now," he says.

One company, Destiny, is interested in developing a shopping plaza in downtown Albany. A subcommittee for the Tax Allocation District (TAD) designed to review projects before final approval by ADICA reviewed the idea at their meeting on Thursday.

"I am just seeing the buzz all over and the proposal that Destiny has brought to the table for the ADICA board, for us to partner up with someone like Destiny it would be a win-win situation," says Board Member BJ Fletcher, who is also a part of the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority (ADICA) and Co-Owner of Cafà 230.

The proposal Destiny presented requested the Albany Transportation Center at the corner of Oglethorpe and Jackson â" scheduled to be relocated -- be turned into a shopping plaza, Oglethorpe Crossing. Specific shops have not been determined at this time.

It also requested that ADICA take on the Heritage Bank buildings, but the group suggested they instead use a lot across the street ADICA already owns as a gas station with a convenience store or fast food restaurant.

"It'll get that lot back on the tax roll. It's off the tax roll because ADICA owns it. We want to get that lot back into private development and get it back on the tax roll and generating tax dollars," says Blair.

Getting more money back into the TAD will allow for future new business development, street scaping and general improvements. Currently, TAD has $5.5 million with the Destiny proposal requesting $2.4 million of that funding. Blair says they need to continue growing the TAD over the next 28 years left, so he says investing in projects that will grow the area is vital.

"We want to look at the community, how does it benefit the community, how does it help tie downtown together and how is it going to be success for everyone involved," he says.

Fletcher says ADICA has taken a beating over the last few years, but she says hopefully when the community sees ADICA taking developing downtown seriously, the community will begin to take them seriously.

"We're not going to give the public anything we wouldn't put our name behind," says Fletcher.

ADICA recently announced that they would begin developing lofts downtown. Board members say it's a big step to growing downtown Albany.

"You can live downtown, you can eat downtown and as we said several months ago this is the time to jump on it because there is buzz," says Fletcher.

The loft and retail projects are just the beginning of things to come for downtown Albany according to Blair.

"When you look back after this year, everyone's going to say 'Wow, that's when we really turned a corner,'" says Blair.

Details of the shopping plaza are not final.

Board members say they are continuing to accept business proposal and TAD applications through February 10th.