Fayetteville, Georgia has been known for its downtown since the city was founded in 1823. The now-famous Fayette County Courthouse became its centerpiece in 1825, and it remains the oldest courthouse in the state.
The Courthouse Square continues to be Downtown Fayetteville’s centerpiece, and the addition of several new shops and restaurants around the Square in recent years has spurred more tourism in the area, however, the current ideas to redevelop Downtown Fayetteville goes back nearly 20 years. City leaders back then recognized that the slow and steady development in and around Fayetteville would present the need and the opportunity to redevelop the downtown area in a way that addressed housing, vehicle traffic and economic development. The City of Fayetteville and the Atlanta Regional Commission ordered a Liveable Communities Initiative study that was published in January 2003. LCIs generally were meant to promote “the development of action plans to enhance livability, connectivity and mobility within existing town centers, while identifying development and redevelopment opportunities”.
Over the next few years, City of Fayetteville leaders worked through ideas to redevelop the downtown area, but then the economic recession hit in the late 2000s, and those ideas would be shelved for nearly a decade. Cost-saving measures were put in place to ensure the City provided the basic services necessary to support existing residents, but there was no net economic development during that time.
By the early 2010s, economic improvements brought a resurgence in housing demand, which was multiplied with the arrival of Pinewood Atlanta Studios on Fayetteville’s west side in 2013. These economic indicators prompted the current City leaders to revisit development in the downtown area, and in 2017 the Fayetteville Downtown Redevelopment Plan was launched. Later in 2017, the City’s new Comprehensive Plan was developed by a committee of City leaders and members of the public, which spurred the development of the City’s 2018 Strategic Plan and the 2018 Capital Improvement Element of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan. Hundreds of people from the community engaged in developing these four documents, and all four documents point to the need, desire and motivation to redevelop Downtown Fayetteville and for the City itself to take the lead in directing those efforts.
“We recognized the opportunity for the City to purchase and redevelop key properties just west of the Courthouse Square,” said Downtown Development Director Brian Wismer. “While we were in the process of purchasing those properties, we were also working with professional real estate and architectural consultants to help us envision what would work best for us, all the while keeping in mind the will of the people as expressed in the Downtown Redevelopment Plan, the Comprehensive Plan and the Strategic Plan.”
These perfectly-situated, City-owned properties include land surrounding the historic Holliday Dorsey Fife Museum, a 10-acre tract previously used by the Fayette County Board of Education headquarters adjacent to the Fayetteville City Cemetery, and a key piece of property located just across Stonewall Avenue (Hwy. 54 eastbound) from that 10-acre tract.
Private investment, of course, is crucial for any successful economic development endeavor, and we are excited to note that, even before the City of Fayetteville has begun any of its own redevelopment projects, private investors have already come to the table with their own plans to take part in what’s happening in the Downtown District. Walton Communities was approved in March to build a 322-home neighborhood on the south side of downtown and Meridian on the Square is in the early stages of developing a nearly 7-acre property in the heart of the Downtown District as a multi-use community complete with 223 housing units and several restaurants and other commercial units.
In the coming months, the City will reveal plans currently being drawn for a new City Hall building and a new city park space that will unfold on the former Board of Education property. Those developments will be detailed on this website as information becomes available.
“It has been an exciting process to get where we are today,” said City Manager Ray Gibson. “We as a leadership team, including our elected officials, have enjoyed and appreciate receiving so much input from the community as they tell us what they want to see happen to this downtown that means so much to them. It’s a special place to call home, and we look forward to continually working with the public to ensure this redevelopment project lives up to and even exceeds their expectations.”
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