GLENNVILLE, GA (WTOC) - June of 2019 will mark three years since a few downtown Glennville businesses went up in flames. The block of Barnard Street where the businesses were is now up for discussion, along with the vacant buildings around the area.
The block of Barnard Street that was ruined from the fire in 2016 is now cleared and has new sod growing in the area, but the owner of the land wants to transform it into a place for the community.
“I just want to see the town nice," said Luke Burkhalter. "I live there, so I want it to be prosperous and be a nice place I can go and hang out and have a good time.”
Luke Burkhalter now owns the piece of land. At a development authority meeting last month, he proposed the idea of a park. He’s offering the land to the city for the price he paid for it and offered to completely finance the project for the city.
Burkhalter says he doesn’t want to make any money off the property - he just wants the downtown area to be built back up. The Downtown Development Chairman agrees that it’s one way they believe they could get business back downtown.
“It’s a good idea to get something started and hopefully it will lead to something else because progress is the incentive for more progress,”said Downtown Development Chairman Wayne Dasher.
The Downtown Development Authority is also working to get more businesses to open back up in the area.
“We’ve been meeting with the city and the city officials and trying to get some incentives approved, so if someone came in they may can get some rent or their water bill, or their license could be suspended for a year or something to encourage folks to come here and try it,” Dasher said.
Dasher is the owner of a few of the buildings downtown himself. He says it's heartbreaking to see so many empty. Other business owners have tabled the idea of reduced rent for a set period of time to get people off to a good start.
“I think most of them are willing to do a reduced rent. Say, $100 for the first month, $200 for the second, and then $300 which would go on out and some may even be willing to do more incentive than that to get them started because the buildings need to be occupied to be able to help keep them up,” Dasher said.
Dasher says they will recommend some of those incentives to city council and then the council will decide if they would like to offer any of those to any new businesses coming into town.