Posted: Monday, February 6th 2012 at 10:14am
Winder's new mayor: Decisions needed about what replaces the Granite Hotel
By Jerry Gunn Staff
Late last week demolition workers erected steel fencing to surround the century old structure, blocking off the sidewalk
WINDER - Winder Mayor David Maynard says the city has made no final decisions on what should replace the historic Granite Hotel once it is gone, but whatever it is, he hopes it will attract people downtown.
City Council decided last December that the weather-worn and dilapidated building had to go, mostly because restoration would be too costly and no investors had come forward to underwrite and back the project. They voted to demolish the Granite and accepted the lowest bid from several contractors over objections from preservationists who wanted to save it.
Late last week demolition workers erected steel fencing to surround the century-old structure, blocking off the sidewalk.
But Mayor Maynard says the Granite symbolizes the dilemma faced by towns all over Georgia, all over the Southeast, where downtowns declined and retailers moved out to the suburban malls and shopping centers.
“I’ve heard some ideas,” Maynard said. “One being a parking lot, one being a park for kids with the idea of bringing something that will attract people to downtown to help benefit the other buildings that are there. The Council will have to make some decisions and figure out which way to go.”
Maynard hopes the Street Scape program gets started this year or early next year to improve Broad Street’s appearance. He also wants to see the Downtown Development Authority, Winder Historic Preservation and downtown merchants unite to get downtown Winder revitalized.
“In my mind, the only thing that will save downtown is that we have to get business back downtown,” Maynard said. “It’ll take an endless amount of money to keep pumping into it to save it unless business is there. If people will shop downtown and support the businesses, that’s the only hope to save it.”
There is something else that Maynard believes may help…passage of the regional one-cent sales tax for transportation that voters decide on later this year.
“It is controversial, but if it passes one of the first things on that list for Barrow County is a bypass on the east side of town,” according to the Mayor. “One thing that would help downtown is getting some of the big truck traffic off Broad Street. That makes it a little uncomfortable shopping downtown if there are a lot of big heavy trucks cutting through here.”
Mayor Maynard said he’s a willing listener concerning downtown Winder. He says he does not have all the answers.
“I’m willing to try to think out of the box. Maybe it’s not retail we need, maybe it's offices, maybe a school...I’m open to anything,” he said. “If anybody has any ideas call and let me know.”
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