Writer: Roger Nielsen
Designs for revitalizing a long-closed textile mill were recently presented to a northwest Georgia manufacturing community through an innovative economic development collaboration the Institute of Government forged with the Georgia Municipal Association and others.
Proposals for redeveloping the Peerless Woolen Mills site in downtown Rossville were prepared by six teams of UGA landscape architecture students enrolled in an Urban Design Studio course that's a component of the Institute's Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership. The partnership unites the resources of the Institute, the UGA College of Environment and Design, GMA and the Georgia Cities Foundation to provide downtown revitalization programs for communities throughout Georgia.
Eighteen landscape architecture students working through CED's Urban Design Studio produced six plans for developing the 27-acre mill site to house social and business activities that are compatible with metropolitan Chattanooga's strong economy. The students presented their design ideas to Rossville government and community leaders, citizens and members of a committed economic development coalition in Rossville City Hall recently.
In addition to Downtown Renaissance Partnership members, the development coalition includes the Lyndhurst Foundation and the citizen-led Thrive 2055. The Lyndhurst Foundation has been a major player in Chattanooga's ongoing rebirth; its service area includes five Georgia counties. This year, the foundation lent its support to Renaissance Partnership projects in Rossville, Chickamauga and Chatsworth. Thrive 2055, like the Lyndhurst Foundation, is dedicated to advancing economic, educational and recreational opportunities in the Chattanooga area.
The students developed realistic plans that can serve as catalysts for reviving the long-dormant mill site. One group based its proposal on the region's outstanding recreational opportunities by designing what could become a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and related retailers and small manufacturers. Other designs focused on developing a railroad center, creating a large civic plaza or converting the space to a high-tech or green industry incubator.
Landowners Hazel and Mitchell Bell were excited to offer Peerless Mills as a study site for CED Associate Professor Douglas Pardue's Urban Design students. The mill redevelopment project illustrates the benefits available through the Renaissance Partnership, Pardue said.
"It provides an exceptional experiential learning opportunity for our students by allowing them to work directly with community leaders and partners on an important civic site. And it provides the city of Rossville with design visions that will assist with site planning and fundraising," he said.