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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This past Thursday and Friday, my other half and I went down to Columbus, Georgia. It's about an hour and a half SW of Atlanta. I figured since we would be there and all, I'd take some pics of this city to show to the world, since Columbus is rarely mentioned on these boards.
Here is some basic info about Columbus. Most people have heard of Fort Benning, the huge Army base where the School of the Americas protests were held? Well, Columbus is the city that adjoins the base. Actually, the base is so huge that it takes up most of Muscogee County. Columbus is situated on the Chattahoochee River, and it is the major city of west Georgia. It has a population of around 190,000 (Columbus and Muscogee County are consolidated, so actually the population of Muscogee County is around 190,000). The downtown area is located on a flat plain that slopes downward to the river, and east of downtown are hills which contain older, first-ring suburbs. Beyond that there is rampant sprawl, like most other US cities. On the other side of the Chattahoochee River is Phenix City, Alabama; there are several bridges connecting the two cities. Fort Benning is by far the largest economic power in the region.
My impressions of Columbus? I think that the city is on its way up. I noticed that there seems to be a lot of investment going on downtown. There is currently a massive streetscaping project underway, as you will see in some of the pictures. Downtown has many older buildings that have already been restored, some that are currently being restored, and even more with the potential for restoration. Downtown is quite randomized - I mean, you will see an empty lot next to a modernist office building next to an old facade with no building behind it! Downtown is not dense like Chattanooga, but there is still a lot of potential there, and it looks like the city is definitely waking up to that fact. Give it 5 years, and it will surely be amazing!
Here are the pics. I added captions to some, but most are just random. Enjoy, and comments are always helpful!
-pawsum

Near Callaway Gardens, outside Columbus


Same here.






This is Columbus's tallest, the Aflac Tower (Yes, THAT Aflac!) Ironically, it is not located downtown.




Columbus Civic Center. Some type of graduation thingie was going on at the time.


The RiverCenter.


The City/County Government Building. It's not the city's tallest!


The Historic District ("the District"), as old as the city itself.










Apparently it's a Columbus institution. They sure can whip up a mean county ham and red-eye gravy breakfast!








The SunTrust building in the background. You'll be seeing this monstrosity again!










As you can see, Columbus has plenty of nice older buildings just crying out for restoration.


The main Post Office. This place looks like it belongs in Coral Gables, not Columbus!






Part of the new streetscaping project




Columbus is called "The Fountain City", and I can see why! These things were everywhere!








This old bus was converted into a smoker for the barbecue restaurant "Country's". Pretty nifty!


The huge corporate campus of TSYS, headquartered in Columbus. These guys shoulda built a skyscraper!








Another fountain. Imagine that!


(The bus is on the other side.)




Bridge to the "Promised Land"! :jk:


Ewwww. And those SCROLLING SIGNS? WHY?!!!!




A moving tribute. . .


Embracing its history


Columbus seems to have more than its fair share of wide, expansive boulevards with grassy medians. Very stately, but it looks a little strange on stretches where there is nothing on either side.


The Springer Opera House. Civilizing the unwashed masses since 1871!


OMG!!! Must. Get. Tickets. :jk:


Pretty swank, eh?











Columbus french-kisses the 'hooch!






Synovus is headquartered here, too.


















The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer building is a mish-mash of different styles, but somehow it works!


For some reason, I am captivated by this building. . .










More Ledger-Enquirer building.


You see a lot of this in this city.


OMG!!! It's the INVASION OF THE ORANGE TRAFFIC BARRELS!!!


Quaint.


Strange, but likeable.








Come on, people. You know the words. "It's fun to stay at the. . ."


The other part of the Y. The two buildings are adjoined.






Okay, mind you, there was a lot of things we didn't get to see, and quite a few parts of town we didn't make it to. If you have a free weekend, you should check this place out. It's got a lot to offer, and I think you'll be impressed!
(Oh yeah, sorry I didn't provide a "skyline" pic. Didn't get around to it.)
 

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We finally get to see some pictures of this place; I've heard much about it (primarily from ATLman), but this is my first time having anything visual to go by.

I see what you mean by having a "randomized" downtown, but the thing I like about that is that it gives the place a sense of authenticity and organic growth. In some places it looks like an emerging city and in other places it looks like a big town. Had the major corporations in the area not had been so suburban-minded, Columbus could have a skyline that at least rivals Augusta (which it looks like in some places).

The streetscaping looks like it's coming along well, but as I generally say about them, they are not guaranteed to bring people out onto the street. A few of those older buildings could easily be converted to residential, and some already have some street-level retail on the ground floor. If the leaders of the city really want to give downtown, especially main street, a total overhaul, they should really look toward Greenville, SC; as a matter of fact, the downtown revitalization there started with a streetscaping project.

One thing I didn't see in any pictures were hotels. Some of those old buildings would also make great hotels.

Also, the riverwalk is nice, but does the city have a center city park? You'd be amazed at what that could do to wake up a slumbering downtown.

Overall, great job pawsum!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
zigzag said:
Sorry if I ruffle a few feathers, but nothing in Columbus impresses me.
It looks like a big country town to me.
No feathers ruffled here! I only presented the pictures for your review. Whether you like what you see or not is your call. In all honesty, downtown Columbus does not readily lend itself to be loved (unlike Savannah), and the word 'urbane' will not be the first word that comes to mind if you see it. It does give the overall impression of an overgrown small town. The joys of downtown Columbus have to be sought out in the little details. But I will be the first to admit that compared to Savannah, one of the most beautiful cities in the country, Columbus barely registers on the scale!

krazeeboi, thanks for the compliments! I agree that downtown Greenville would be a great place to look for ideas on how to do downtown revitalization correctly. Chattanooga is also an excellent example to follow. I did not notice a large city park downtown, although there were smaller parks scattered about. Columbus seems to be directing its attention towards the river, just like Chattanooga did, and Greenville to an extent. I believe that if the streetscaping and riverfront thing work, people will start coming downtown, and more businesses will begin to occupy the empty storefronts. It can happen. I think Columbus has great potential, and it seems that they are trying to make something happen.
BTW, the only major hotel downtown is the Marriott, which is located near the Historic District. The building was not particularly impressive, so a picture wouldn't be worth the disk space. One of those older buildings would make a great hotel!
 

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It is probably to Columbus's advantage to focus as much on the riverfront as it is doing (which is what has contributed/is contributing to Chattanooga's ongoing downtown revitalization). Many cities have great riverfront parks, and the Chattahoochee makes for an impressive site through the city.
 

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Town??

YOu call this a town?? Man this is like a City...It has a pretty reasonable tall building and a really nice city. How tall is that AFLAC building?
 

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The barbecue with the bus-smoker is a perfect illustration of why I love the South. I so want to be there.

And don't knock George Jones. He's a national treasure.
 

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wow

75m...Pretty tall for a small town in Georgia. Now I wonder what is the tallest building in Georgia outside of the Atlanta Metro Area.
 

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It needs help, but, it has potential. Serious investment and unique projects need to go into plenty of the older buildings in this city. They seem to need unique shops that will draw in the crowds.
 

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great pix! Thanx for visuals

Several comments

No comparison between Columbus and Savannnah. Like comparing New/Chicago. S is an Atlantic seaport. C is a gulf riverport (like memphis, which it resembles on a small scale). Architecturally, DT S is colonial/victorian, C is solely victorian. S is old school/trading. C is more blue collar/mfg. Ying/Yang.

Streetscape IS based on Greenville. CoC sponsors trip to different city every year to get ideas. Streetscape was idea gleaned from G'ville.

DT is in transition. Was a MAJOR dump until a few years back. New focus on river. Whitewater plans will hopefully give impetus. That plan is to breach two dams and return river to its wild/natural state for ~ 3 miles thru DT. Corps of Engineers says result will be finest urban white water course (canoe/kayaking) in North America. At that point I hope that some of those old building will become boutique hotels, restaurants,cafes, tec. Already started. Several of the buildingd shown have lofts. Columbus State U is moving drama/art departments to new $40 M campus along river with 2 new 5-story dorms (no pix but are almost completed on outside). New Eagle and Phenix Condo will have restaurants, shops on ground floor facing river. The facades look odd but are what remains after fires. DT under facade ordinance which protects them from demo. Plans are to protect facade and thus keep DT with its old-time look. New Y planned, old Y to be razed. Marble Y next to it will remain (only marble Y in USA). New Y across from Country's BBQ (bus smoker).

C does have a lot of potential. As someone remarked, in 5 years it will be a comer for sure. Expansion of Ft Benning, Kia (~ 35 miles) and AFLAC, TSYS, etc bode well. But whitewater and Columbus State are, I believe, the saviors of DT. At some point DT will be a happening place (already compared to a little Beale St with bars, clubs, etc).

When you think of Columbus, think minature Memphis. No other comparison works as well.

As for parks, the closest one to DT is Weracoba, about 1 mile (I live in that area, atleast on eekends. Work in Atlanta) ). Old houses, mostly 20's- 30's but some older and some newer. Have heard that when railyard moves from the near DT area (between 6-10 Ave) that that space will become a new park with limited residential/commercial development. But that is in the distant future.
 

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The fine Art museum in Columbus on the road out of town towards Aflac is excellent - and free. That plus the Canon brew pub make the trip worth it if you have the time...but there is much else too. With more retail, this city will really do well. It's expected to have a big population surge in the next 20yrs. Columbus is my third favourtie GA city after Atlanta and Savannah.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
gah said:
great pix! Thanx for visuals

Several comments

No comparison between Columbus and Savannnah. Like comparing New/Chicago. S is an Atlantic seaport. C is a gulf riverport (like memphis, which it resembles on a small scale). Architecturally, DT S is colonial/victorian, C is solely victorian. S is old school/trading. C is more blue collar/mfg. Ying/Yang.

Streetscape IS based on Greenville. CoC sponsors trip to different city every year to get ideas. Streetscape was idea gleaned from G'ville.

DT is in transition. Was a MAJOR dump until a few years back. New focus on river. Whitewater plans will hopefully give impetus. That plan is to breach two dams and return river to its wild/natural state for ~ 3 miles thru DT. Corps of Engineers says result will be finest urban white water course (canoe/kayaking) in North America. At that point I hope that some of those old building will become boutique hotels, restaurants,cafes, tec. Already started. Several of the buildingd shown have lofts. Columbus State U is moving drama/art departments to new $40 M campus along river with 2 new 5-story dorms (no pix but are almost completed on outside). New Eagle and Phenix Condo will have restaurants, shops on ground floor facing river. The facades look odd but are what remains after fires. DT under facade ordinance which protects them from demo. Plans are to protect facade and thus keep DT with its old-time look. New Y planned, old Y to be razed. Marble Y next to it will remain (only marble Y in USA). New Y across from Country's BBQ (bus smoker).

C does have a lot of potential. As someone remarked, in 5 years it will be a comer for sure. Expansion of Ft Benning, Kia (~ 35 miles) and AFLAC, TSYS, etc bode well. But whitewater and Columbus State are, I believe, the saviors of DT. At some point DT will be a happening place (already compared to a little Beale St with bars, clubs, etc).

When you think of Columbus, think minature Memphis. No other comparison works as well.

As for parks, the closest one to DT is Weracoba, about 1 mile (I live in that area, atleast on eekends. Work in Atlanta) ). Old houses, mostly 20's- 30's but some older and some newer. Have heard that when railyard moves from the near DT area (between 6-10 Ave) that that space will become a new park with limited residential/commercial development. But that is in the distant future.
Thanks for the info, gah! I was hoping that someone familiar with Columbus would provide some insight.
I forgot to mention the Eagle and Phoenix loft conversion project, which looks like it will be huge. It reminds me a lot of the enourmous Cabbagetown Loft buildings in Atlanta, which has turned out to be a great success. Plus, the Eagle and Phoenix is right on the Chattahoochee, which makes for great views! Here is a pic:

The pictures of the 'hooch are what loft owners (who face that side) will see when they look out their windows.

Also you mentioned Columbus State University. I think this is one of the dorm/student apartment buildings you were talking about:

I think it's a great idea for Columbus State to utilize downtown. The land and buildings are there, and it's a great way to bring a younger, hipper crowd (some with spending money) into the area. To an extent, it worked with Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta. It seems like they own about 40% of downtown Atlanta (okay, maybe not THAT much), but it's presence does breathe life into DT and brings with it a certain coolness and edginess that makes certain parts of downtown ATL seem more like NYU, especially the Fairlie-Poplar area (of downtown ATL) around lunchtime! Columbus is a long way from achieving that, but hey, it's a start!
Oh yeah, I did notice a thriving scene going on along 1st Avenue. There were throngs of people hanging out in bars and pubs, and there were also some cozy locally-owned coffeehouses that seemed well-frequented. There were live bands playing, and the whole scene was pretty lively. Since it was only around 9 pm when I was there, it basically hadn't even gotten started!
I have been to some dying cities, but Columbus didn't at all leave me with the impression that it belongs in that category. It seems to have awakened to its true potential. I'm a huge fan of mid-size cities anyway, even though I live in Atlanta. I saw a lot of positive things happening in Columbus, and it seems like even more is on the way. I just can't help but root for 'em!
 

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Excellent photography!!! And may I say that I agree 100% with krazeeboi? Lots of personality and great potential. A city to watch closely, without a doubt. Thanks for the pics.
 

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Nice pics but I too was underwhelmed. I don't believe this town has realized its potential yet but I believe it has great possibility for charm. When Atlanta sprawl causes more people to move, Columbus may be able to capture some.
 

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scraperboy said:
Nice pics but I too was underwhelmed. I don't believe this town has realized its potential yet but I believe it has great possibility for charm. When Atlanta sprawl causes more people to move, Columbus may be able to capture some.

The main point to remember about Columbus is that it has NOT realized its potential yet. It has long been behind the curve compared to the other comparable SE cities and only just now stirring from a long 50-year dormancy. In the 40-50's it was a boom town due to Ft Benning. Viet Nam pulled the rug out from the military component of the economy. To make matters worse, the old guard relied too much on low-paying textiles. So both economic legs -- military and textiles -- were amputated at about the same time. Luckily, Columbus has a long history of local-grown business, most of which migrated elsewhere -- Coke, RC Cola, Nehi, Lummus. Luckily that ethos is still present in the form of AFLAC, Synovous and TSYS, not to mention many other smaller firms with great potential.

In other words, the city is reinventing itself from a shrinking military-textile backwater into a 21-century white collar alternative to its more well-know SE sister cities. Every city needs a brand. Unless I am mistaken, if and when the white water project I have alluded to comes on line, that will become Columbus' brand going forward. The project will reinvigorate DT with new businesses, which will in turn raise ithe city's profile. Of course Ft Benning will always be a major -- if not the major -- component of the economy. Especially with BRAC and the new Infantry Museum. However, it wont be as dominant as in the past. The city is expecting over 1 million visitors annually. That will increase exponitionally with white water, the Infantry Museum and the new proposed marina. The missing component is transpotation infrastructure. The area need news interstate connections in all diretions, but especially west to Mongomery and south to the FLA panhandle.

Columbus will never be another Savannah -- for that matter, neither will most other comparable SE cities. However, it does have its own distinctive style which, as I mentioned, reminds me most of Memphis (which, I might add is not really comparable to New Orleans). Unlike some of its sister cities, however, Columbus has not really found its place in the sun (no pun intended). But , it does have potential -- maybe even great potential -- and, for that reason, as a former and soon-to- be returing Columbusite, I am looking forward to the ride.
 

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ATL (and by extension, much of the northern 1/3 of GA) and Savannah and the GA coast will continue to develop. The real question has always been which, if any, Fall Line city will really take off. Augusta has become so decentralized, it's hard to envision it becoming a major center, despite MCG's presence. Macon will likely benefit from its proximity to ATL. But, Columbus may have the best opportunity to capitalize on its corporate presence, river location, and investment in its improving downtown. These pics as well as comments by those who know the town seem to to indicate Columbus is dusting itself off. It will be interesting to see if things continue along a positive path. It has a ways to go.

I think the city must be careful about relying too much on the military to stoke the economy though. As many other towns have learned, a military presence can be a double-edged sword---here today and gone tommorow.

Finally, having lived in Augusta for several years a while back and having visited Columbus, I must say that they have an oddly similar vibe. Struggling/recovering downtowns adjacent to a large river and an historic district, surrounded by decaying old industrial districts (with interesting potential) crisscrossed by railroads and lots of wide (fairly) empty roads, leading very attractive neighborhoods at higher elevation, then older modern suburbs alonf the interstate, and finally modern sprawl. I guess the topography and history of the 2 towns are that similar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Raleigh-NC said:
Excellent photography!!! And may I say that I agree 100% with krazeeboi? Lots of personality and great potential. A city to watch closely, without a doubt. Thanks for the pics.
Thanks for the compliment Raleigh-NC! It was my pleasure to help put Columbus out there.
 
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