Planner review River Disrict study

In this June file photo, Rome-Floyd County Planning Director Artagus Newell (left) and Transportation Planner Kayla Schaaf look over some proposed design elements for the River District presented in a 2018 study.

Two proposals to redevelop the city-owned property on West Third Street were submitted by the deadline this week.

Rome Purchasing Director Becky Smyth said Friday that both would put a combination of retail, restaurants and residences on the 2.2-acre tract next to the Courtyard Rome Riverwalk hotel. The property consists of the site used as a parking lot and the adjacent glass store.

“We were impressed by the submissions and the use of the space,” Smyth said.

Proposals came from Broad Street LLC, formed by developer Ira Levy, and FSRE Impact Rome River District LLC out of Atlanta. The principals are Alex Dominguez and Jeff Warwick of Four Stones Real Estate but they’ve put together a team that includes Bob Ledbetter, whose Rome company is building the East Bend shopping center on the former Kmart property.

Smyth said a review committee led by City Manager Sammy Rich will be studying each proposal in depth to determine what fits best with plans for the new River District. There are various factors involved — such as the amount of city participation — that go beyond just a purchase price and plan.

A cursory inspection when the bids were opened Thursday, however, indicated both offer benefits to the new district officials hope will become a modern extension of the historic downtown.

“We wanted to have dining and additional residential units, and they both incorporated that very nicely,” Smyth said.

The site is zoned for Urban Mixed Use development, which allows for live-work-play complexes that are taller rather than sprawling.

Nearby amenities include Barron Stadium, the Downtown Tennis Center and Floyd Medical Center’s main campus. It’s connected to the existing downtown by the Chief John Ross Memorial Bridge over the Oostanaula River.

The conceptual plan is for a walkable community and the city is starting on a streetscape design for the district. There’s a $2 million earmark for the project in the 2017 SPLOST package and the city recently received a $600,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant for improvements to utility services.

Rome bought the property — including the land where the hotel sits — more than a decade ago in order to control the type of development that goes in.

Over the years, the city has accepted two previous proposals for the remaining tracts but neither came to fruition.

The evaluation of the two new proposals will weigh a number of factors, including compatibility with the vision for the district, the value of the overall project, how fast it can be built and the company’s past performance in terms of quality and success.

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