Interactive Neighborhood for Kids is just the tip of the iceberg in Oakwood’s downtown redevelopment plans, which now have a funding component.
Even though INK may be a main attraction, the South Hall city is trying to transform its downtown area with an urban redevelopment plan and has even recently created an agency that would serve as a bond issue funding arm for the efforts.
“They don’t have any decision-making processes, as far as plans and designs,” City Manager B.R. White said of the Oakwood Redevelopment Agency. “The law requires … to create that bond, you have to use an (autonomous) agency.”
Other plans for some 30-plus city-owned acres for mostly open land between Railroad Street and Flat Creek Road include a railroad viewing station, a community center, retail stores and farmers market.
To boot, the city is looking at creating roundabouts, including one at Main Street and Flat Creek Road near the post office and realigning McClure Street.
White is particularly excited about INK’s development.
“This has been a long time coming,” he said.
The $4.3 million building for the interactive children’s museum will be at the corner of Main Street and McClure Drive.
The new INK building would be 50,000 square feet, almost twice as big as its current location, INK executive director Mandy Volpe has said.
The new building will have more space for exhibits including a pottery studio and kiln room for ceramics, a gift shop, a cafe for on-site dining and a helicopter structure at its front entrance to pair with INK’s GrandPappy Airlines plane, which will be moving to the new location.
There will likely be a groundbreaking ceremony in early 2022, White said, but grading is not expected to start until next August. The building will take nine months to construct once that process starts, Volpe said.
Oakwood’s redevelopment also will involve a 30-plus acre area Oakwood Road, where the old Georgia Poultry Lab was located. Sewer improvements are planned, including at apartments where septic tanks are failing and there’s no room for replacement, White said.
Also, plans call for tearing down the lab and putting up a new city building to house city courts, and police and public works departments.
“If we had the money, we would do all that now,” White said.