Downtown Columbus renovation project promises business, residents

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Empire building located at the intersection of 1st Avenue and 12th Street has been vacant for years.

Tonight, it is getting ready to shine once again as the future home to apartments and retail space.

The building looks meager now, but this time next year and 3.1 million dollars later, it hopes to be a place where people live and work.

Craig Taylor is one of the building owners and sees the possibilities --- despite hurdles that may come along the way.

"That's one of the difficulties with historic preservation, in that, often times, it doesn't make a whole lot of economic sense, it has to be someone who is committed to the structure itself," Taylor said.

And Taylor clearly is --- after buying the building in 2000 --- he used the last eight years to secure financing and plan the renovation.

When completed, it will be home to four businesses on the lowest level and 31 apartments in the upper four floors.

Officials with UPTown Columbus, like Reynolds Bickerstaff, and the Historic Columbus Foundation call this a great move for the downtown area --- a move that will bring back a once proud building to prominence.

"It's an exciting day and it's a relief really. This is a project that everyone has had on their radar and we're all excited to celebrate the start of a great project," Bickerstaff said.

Construction will begin immediately, which, according to Taylor, will stimulate the local economy with plenty of labor needed to finish the job.

"We are asking for local sub-contractors as well, who can come in and put bids on various aspects of the job," Taylor said.