2017 proved to be a year of major progress for the Downtown Development Authority of Gray (the “DDA”). Years of preparation enabled the DDA to move forward on administrative issues such as completion of design guidelines and assessment of certain downtown buildings. Following the assessment, DDA was fortunate to be provided the opportunity to acquire several downtown properties.
The progress on downtown development began in late 2016 with the approval of design guidelines. The design guidelines were drafted to provide assurance that changes made to existing buildings and the design of new structures meet specific standards to ensure the “hometown” look and feel of downtown is maintained.
Shortly after the approval of the guidelines, the DDA was offered the opportunity to acquire the building housing the former Kitchens Barber Shop, Pitts Sporting Goods, and Gray Electronics. Following the acquisition, the DDA installed a new sign and awning for Gray Electronics and provided a fresh coat of paint. A new door will soon be installed in the back entrance for the tenant, “Mr. Joe”, is doing some additional changes inside to create a lobby and work area.
The former Kitchens Barber Shop has a new tenant, local attorney Nancy Atkinson. Repurposing the building from a barber shop to a law office was quite a feat with the installation of new heat, air conditioning and flooring. New doors and windows were also installed and DDA managed to keep the “vintage” feel of the building while making it comfortable and functional for a current day business enterprise in downtown Gray. A new sign and awning to complement the Gray Electronics improvements completed the makeover project.
The former location of Pitts Sporting Goods received a window clean up, new paint and a new awning to tie in nicely with its neighbors. Many local citizens donated time, material and money to help with all the remodeling work of the DDA acquisition project approved by Gray City Council and funded by the City of Gray.
DDA also led the purchase of the former Butler’s Garage building and surrounding parking area on Ross Street. Clean-up and renovation of the Garage began in November with Main Street Gray and Leadership Jones serving as excellent partners in this project. The building clean-up included the windows and entire inside area of the building and the removal of unusable equipment. The installation of a new electrical system and new lighting highlight tasks completed to date.
Most exciting for DDA and the community, the Butler’s Garage building was used for Main Street’s first Christmas on Main this past December. Vendors were located inside and outside the building and attractions included bouncy slides and houses in the back-parking lot, food trucks and holiday music. Lighting the Christmas tree at the train depot highlighted a great event for downtown Gray.
The final 2017 DDA project was the acquisition of the former Haskins Furniture building on the corner of West Clinton and South Jefferson Street. Mr. Haskins decided to downsize his business to include only appliance repair and was looking to dispose of his building. DDA assisted Mr. Haskins in the transition to a smaller location so that he could continue his business serving the citizens of Gray. In connection with the move by Haskins Furniture, DDA was able to raze the corner building creating a large green space and providing a beautiful view of the Veteran’s Monument, the Jones County Courthouse and Butler’s Garage.
The DDA has great hope that 2018 will see a continuation of the progress made in 2017. The Downtown Development Authority of Gray plans to continue its efforts to identify projects to facilitate the growth and development of downtown Gray and promote the City of Gray on behalf of its citizens.
A hearty “Thank You” to everyone involved in helping the Downtown Development Authority of Gray complete projects and continue progress in the downtown area.