A presentation of the proposed new Master Plan for downtown Rome was the draw, and most of the downtown business owners reacted favorably to the report prepared by the Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia.
Consultant Danny Bivins provided a quick overview of the Master Plan, much of which focuses on a continuation of the Streetscape environment on the streets that cross Broad in the downtown district, from Sixth Avenue up to Turner McCall Boulevard and along Fifth Avenue.
Much of the work is cosmetic and not particularly expensive, though it does suggest an arts district for the Fifth Avenue/West Third Street area and calls for Class A commercial space and medical office use in the West Third Street area near the Chief John Ross Memorial Bridge where the Samson Development Group already has plans for a Courtyard by Marriott development.
The plan also suggests that Rome take much greater advantage of the green space along the rivers for recreational use that would bring even more people to the downtown district.
“You’ve got to take and make it yours,” said Bivins of the final plan.
John Schroeder, owners of Schroeder’s New Deli, 406 Broad St., called the plan very interesting.
“There was a lot of good information and food for thought about what could be done,” Schroeder said. “We’ve got a lot to be proud of and a lot of room for improvement.”
Charles Curlee, owner of Curlee’s Fish House and Oyster Bar, 227 Broad St., said he was pleased to see Rome and the BID organization being proactive in what they’re trying to accomplish for the community.
Barbara Beninato, CEO of the Rome Symphony Orchestra, was intrigued with the arts district proposal.
“I kind of like the arts district plan. I’m a little bit biased, but I think that is something we should be looking for,” Beninato said. “I know there has been a lot of talk about having an entertainment district, and I kind of think the two, arts district and entertainment district, can go together.”
“What BID plans to do in 2013 is to build on what we’ve done in 2012,” said Elaine Abercrombie of Greene’s Jewelers, secretary for the BID group. “We’re going to continue supporting events that bring things downtown — First Friday, the Block Parties.”
“Rome has the opportunity to be as lively as Savannah, Charleston or Asheville,” said Bob Blumberg, owner of Johnny’s New York Style Pizza and chairman of the BID organization for a second year.