MILLEDGEVILLE — If you want to gauge the direction of any community, do so by taking a look at its downtown neighborhood. Downtowns are a central part of the lifeblood of every community. It’s where residents shop, socialize and dine. It’s often where local governments work. It’s where residents often gather for collective renewal in times of triumph, and sometimes to share and support each other in tragedy.
A glimpse at Milledgeville’s downtown today doesn’t tell the story of how far it’s come in recent years but its transformation is certainly a contrast to what was.
Since 2004, 55 buildings have been rehabbed in the downtown area, 63 net new businesses opened and $66.5 million has been invested in the downtown commercial district. That’s a lot to be proud of, and this hard work and effort was recently touted on the national stage.
May is National Historic Preservation Month, and Milledgeville recently received two great honors for its effort to preserve what should be near and dear to all of us.
Milledgeville was named a 2014 Great American Main Street Awards for its continued downtown development efforts. The award was presented in Detroit, Mich. Sunday by the National Main Street Center, part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Coupled with this national honor, The Baldwin Lofts and owners Frank and Heather Pendergast, were also honored by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation with an Excellence in Rehabilitation award.
The two honors go hand in hand. The Baldwin Lofts, transformed from the former Grapevine Antiques building, is the first time a private entity in Milledgeville has ever been awarded the Excellence in Rehabilitation award. Only two other communities, Harrisonburg, Va. and Woodbine, Iowa, were recognized with Great American Main Street Awards this year.
Both of these honors will go a long way in enhancing Milledgeville’s continued marketing, economic development and tourism efforts.