Ribbon Cutting held for renovated Newman Building

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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The LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the recently renovated Newman Building.

The project is part of plans for the Rail District development, which aims to revitalize and restore a once-vital area of LaGrange. The Rail District once held the former Atlanta and West Point (A&WP) Depot and was a large part of LaGrange’s growth in the late 1800s.

The railroad helped serve the nearby Newman Construction Co. which was incorporated by James Rufus Newman and Tom Hutchinson in 1920. Just over 100 years later, the Newman building will have a new use as the keystone property in the Rail District project.

Developer Phillip Abbott said the Newman Building itself will contain office and retail spaces. The next phase of the project will include the addition of what he described as a shipping container food court.

Abbott said the two-story food court called the Rail Yard would potentially include Indian food, Thai food or other offerings not currently found in LaGrange.

Plans for the development also include a large greenspace, areas for covered activities, open markets and an event venue called Crescent Station, where Abbott said they hope to host small concerts and local events.

The goal for the Rail District is to include a plethora of small businesses and provide locations for people to gather and to extend Downtown LaGrange.

Some have raised concerns that the development could bring in higher-priced housing and potentially gentrify nearby African American communities. Abbott said he isn’t involved in any housing development and any gentrification of the area isn’t his goal.

“I’m really just trying to improve the area of LaGrange, pay respect to the historical aspects of it and make things better for the people of LaGrange. That’s all,” Abbott said.