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July 11, 2016 | Spotlight

Institute's Renaissance Fellows aid revitalization efforts in three Georgia cities

Renaissance Fellows

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Three Georgia cities selected for the Institute's Downtown Renaissance Fellows program are getting technical and design services to address economic development needs identified by municipal leaders.

The annual Renaissance Fellows collaboration matches landscape architecture students from the University of Georgia's College of Environment and Design (CED) with selected cities that are members of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). Students who received fellowships this year are providing technical assistance for summer-long revitalization projects in Monroe, Jesup, and Chatsworth.

The three participating cities and the GMA, through its Georgia Cities Foundation, provide financial support. For the first time, the Lyndhurst Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering growth in the Chattanooga area, is providing additional support for Renaissance Fellowship projects in Chatsworth.

"The cities are getting customized technical assistance, and the students are bringing fresh perspectives to specific downtown revitalization issues," said Institute downtown development specialist Danny Bivins, who administers the 12-week internship program.

As a Downtown Renaissance Fellow, UGA landscape architecture graduate student Dan Shinkle was selected to work with Chatsworth Mayor Tyson Haynes, Matt Sanford of the Murray County Commissioner's Office and the Chatsworth-Murray Thriving Communities Committee from the regional Thrive 2055 economic development initiative. Shinkle is designing pedestrian-friendly streetscape enhancements and assisting the thriving communities panel toward their goal of installing a permanent stage in the City Park.

In the city of Jesup, UGA landscape architecture student Jacob Schindler is working alongside Maika Kicklighter, executive director of the Jesup Downtown Development Authority, on ways to revitalize an historic hotel and movie house. He is also collaborating with city administrators on downtown streetscape improvements.

UGA landscape architecture student Siyu Hou was selected to work with the Monroe Economic Development Department to develop a trail corridor along Midland Avenue to improve connectivity through downtown to mill communities south of the central business district. She also is working with economic development leaders to design attractive community entrances along Georgia Highway 11 and create mixed-use infill designs for two downtown parking lots.

The inaugural Downtown Renaissance Fellows program in 2013 provided revitalization assistance for the cities of Gainesville, Milledgeville, and Porterdale. The cities of Commerce, Fitzgerald, Flowery Branch, Glennville, Hapeville, and Newnan have since gained downtown revitalization assistance through the program.