City looking to connect Rail District with downtown

Published 9:07 am Friday, October 13, 2023

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The LaGrange City Council has approved steps toward providing streetscaping to connect the new Rail District with Downtown LaGrange.

Developer Phillip Abbott requested that the city hire an engineer to develop a streetscaping plan to connect the new business district to the south end of the downtown area.

“We want to try to connect that to the south side of town. With Nutwood coming along and Wild Leap already there, if we can get across the railroad tracks and connect this business district, then it will not only enhance downtown but also enhance the communities surrounding because there’s a lot of people that walk through there to downtown from that area,” Abbott said.

Abbott said he would like to see sidewalks connecting the district to downtown, which would be safer for the people who already use E. Depot Street to walk into downtown LaGrange.

Councilman Nathan Gaskin voiced support for the effort, saying mobility in the area is currently difficult.

Abbott said enhancing the beauty of the area would attract other outside investors in the area beyond himself. Abbott has already converted the former Newman Construction building in the area into office spaces and plans to build greenspace and a shipping container food court nearby.

“There’s also retail space and a concert event venue where we can do smaller concerts up to 900 people,” Abbott said, noting he wouldn’t be opposed to a small grocery store as well.

Downtown Development Authority Director Bill Hunnicutt said the DDA is eager to see the streetscaping connection happen.

“We feel it’s very important to cross the railroad track and start bringing that community into the downtown and this streetscape would really help make that connection,” Hunnicutt said.

Councilman Leon Childs said he loves the growth in the area, but it also must include the residents that already live there.

The council later unanimously approved allowing the city manager to engage an engineer to develop streetscape plans for the district. 

In other business, the council:

4 Approved an amendment to city code that would include Meadoway Cemetery in recent regulation changes concerning grave slabs.

4 Authorized the mayor and clerk to sign off on a GDOT agreement that will provide street lights for the Davis Road widening project. GDOT will provide the lights and the city will be responsible for ongoing maintenance and electricity costs.

4 Appointed Barbie Watts to a three-year term on the Historic Preservation Commission to succeed Sarah Barintine.