Milledgeville Main Street/Downtown Development Authority was recently recognized at the state level at the annual Georgia Downtown Association Conference. The staff, board and others involved were presented the awards by Mayor Mary Parham-Copelan Tuesday at the Milledgeville City Council meeting.
During the annual awards ceremony of the Georgia Downtown Conference, The Georgia Downtown Association recognized Milledgeville for Best Creative Fundraising for the Polar Express holiday event.
Based on the Bestselling book, “The Polar Express,” the Milledgeville Main Street/DDA created a Polar Express Trolley ride to add to the First Friday event line up for December. The trolley ridge takes riders on a magical adventure to the North Pole to see Christmas lights while listening to the reading of The Polar Express as told by Liam Neeson. Riders, both children, and parts, board the trolley wearing their Christmas pajamas. Once they arrive at their destination, the chat with Santa and Mrs. Claus while enjoying hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies and receiving a silver bell ornament as a souvenir. The one-night event started in 2016, but sold out so quickly that two additional nights were added with tickets costing $5. The event raised more than $1,420 for the DDA. Ticket prices were increased the next year, and over the three-night period the event raised $6,982. In 2018, the event raised enough to pay for the Main Street Hometown Celebration, an annual, free block party that was originally funded with a grant and celebrates Milledgeville’s Great American Main Street Award.
The Georgia Downtown Association recognized Milledgeville for Design-Best Public Improvement of the Year for The Annex building.
Built in 1919, this building was originally built as a car dealership. In recent years, the building was used for city offices and storage. The library that backed up to the building had outgrown its space and Executive Director Stephen Houser approached the city of Milledgeville with his creative idea of renovating the City building to house both city offices and a new library branch. The building is now known as the Hancock Branch of the Library and The Annex for the City, with the back section serving as an extension of the library, the mezzanine level housing office space for library officials and a business incubator office and the front of the building housing the City finance Department and a multi-purpose meeting space.
During the renovation, historic terracotta floors were uncovered, the historic tin ceiling tiles were revealed and were intact and in good condition. The total cost for the project was a $1.3 million, with $650,000 coming from the library, mostly from a state grant for libraries with the City funding the remaining balance. A façade grant was also obtained to help with the exterior. The building is now serving more citizens and certainly an attractive focal point for the city.
As the premier event on downtown development and historic preservation in the state, the Georgia Downtown Conference promotes downtown and economic development through public awareness, governmental relations and education.