Local leaders continue to push consumers to Uptown Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "Of course the economy is tough right now and a lot of people are struggling in a lot of different ways, but we've been very fortunate so far."

W.C. Bradley Real Estate President Mat Swift is talking about the Eagle and Phenix Condos of which the company's sold about 30 of 88 units.

While Swift admits sales were slower in 2008 and foot traffic declined, he says the loft community has actually exceeded expectations in this economy.

"There is a pinned up demand for living in the downtown area not that's a relatively new phenomena," says Swift.

It's that demand and desire for potential growth that was the center of discussion at the Uptown Columbus and Business Improvement District Annual Meeting.

Community leaders say even in the current climate, Uptown continues to expand.

The group's president Richard Bishop says consumers can expect more development, especially along the river.

Plus, a focus on niche markets.

"Balsam, Cotton Blossom, the Galleria, now we have Beads on Broadway, we have a new women's apparel store, so those are the type, the specialty items that we will try to continue to go out and recruit," says Bishop.

In fact, it's a move experts say Columbus can't afford to pass up.

"You cannot fall behind in building walkable urban places like Uptown, like Midtown that the market wants, because if you don't offer the market what it wants it's gonna go someplace else," says Chris Leinberger, a real estate developer and Visting Fellow at the Brooking's Institute in Washington, D.C. who served as the meeting's keynote speaker.

Local leaders absolutely want to avoid that, and take advantage what's to come.

"We think with the influx of some 30,000 people over the next few years, the demand is going to keep going up," adds Swift.