We received some information about recent conversations concerning Colony Bank’s efforts to purchase the property on Central Avenue where the old ice house is located. The plan is to turn the building into a new bank location, while maintaining the integrity of the original building, and keeping in mind the historic value of it.
Over the past six months or so, Colony Bank representatives have jumped through all the necessary hoops – at least, that’s our understanding – to make this happen.
But a recent conversation with a representative from the State Historic Review has left a bad taste in our mouths. Colony Bank reps sat down with William Hover, with the state, who discussed the following points:
• Hover said the building should follow the design standards of the Historic District and the downtown area.
• Hover said the Review gave no consideration to what the local community and the Historic Preservation Commission wants, relating to location, parking, overall design and setbacks.
• He indicated there may be consideration for new setbacks, but a new site plan would be required for further review.
• Hover said parking is secondary to any design – indicating that adequate parking wouldn’t be a priority in the plan, as far as the Review is concerned.
• He indicated that if the original design of the building is to be considered in the project, the old building should not be torn down.
Hover concluded by saying the only option at this point is to resubmit plans with the requested changes, with the exception of the setbacks.
After doing everything necessary locally to obtain and renovate this historic property, now the State Review is the holdup – and seemingly with little regard for this property, and what it would mean for the community. They’re asking Colony to jump through more hoops.
But it seems that Colony has tired of hoop jumping, and has indicated this is their last effort to get the project approved at the state level. If it’s not approved, they’ll just go elsewhere.
The project would be a shot in the arm for the area where the ice house is located, and could lead to much needed redevelopment.
It has been said that it would be a shame to allow someone who has indicated that the needs of this community and its people are not a priority, to be the final word on this. The HPC, City Council and other key players are on board with this project.
We couldn’t agree more.
Clearly, that area of Tifton is in need of a booster shot. To let this project die would be a travesty.
We will be following this closely, and hope our city’s leaders and others will move quickly to prevent this effort by the Review to shoot this project in the foot.