The City of Monroe receives recognition by Georgia Downtown for 9th time consecutively

press release from Georgia Downtown Conference

Contributed photo: From left: Leigh Ann Aldridge, Main Street Coordinator, Kevin Hill Owner When Pigs Fly, Chad Draper JEC Development, April Norton Georgia Downtown Association Board Member

ATLANTA – During the annual awards ceremony of the Georgia Downtown Conference, the Georgia Downtown Association recognized the City of Monroe with an Award of Excellence in the Design category for Best Façade Rehabilitation by JEC Development. Downtown. This is the ninth consecutive time that Monroe downtown has been recognized at the Georgia Downtown Conference, according to Monroe Main Street Co-ordinator Leigh Ann Aldridge. She also went on to recognize the ongoing contributions to Monroe of JEC Development.

“They started the movement of downtown revitalization many years ago and are still taking us to the next level,” Aldridge said.

According to the press release from officials with Georgia Downtown Conference, one of the greatest challenges in downtown development can be expanding the physical footprint beyond the “main street.” Even the most unique and inviting environments can struggle to get people to walk “just around the corner” to discover something new. This nomination for best façade renovation of the year created not only a beautiful facade, but a destination outdoor space that quiets the naysayers that a business can only survive “on Broad Street.”

The space referred to is the building now occupied by When Pigs Fly restaurant with an entrance on Broad Street but the main entrance on Wayne Street. The building is owned by the Draper family of Monroe.

According to the release, “the space was an existing restaurant with two businesses that had failed in the last 5-6 years. Although the space had a Broad Street entrance, it was underutilized. The back main entrance, which fronts Wayne Street, along with poor design of the building left much to be desired by customers. The owner hit pause on renting the property and even considered converting the space into something other than a restaurant, but it’s completely unheard of to disassemble a commercial kitchen space, right? A creative plan to take away the poor development of the space which included a parking lot right up to the entrance, improper signage, and a non-historic addition gave opportunity for a beautiful outdoor gathering area, dining area and smokehouse for a new bar-b-que restaurant. Removing the non-historic atrium window addition and covered entry gave a fresh new look to the entrance and allowed room for beautiful double doors that can be opened to the outdoor space. Installing windows to give the illusion of an upper level on the front helped tie in the aesthetics of the building to the other adjacent historic properties. Converting the poorly designed asphalt parking into a green space for gathering (yes, you heard it, they removed parking, something rare in the downtown world) also allowed room for the creation of the smoke house which provided not only an eye (and nose) catching appeal to the space but also solved in issue with ventilation in the kitchen.”

In submitting the project, Aldridge explained that the small sacrifice of a few parking spaces completely changed the look of the project and in fact the entire block. The Broad Street entrance received a simple refresh of signage and a new wall mural to catch the shopper’s eye, but the main attraction remains that once forgotten dull space in the “rear” of the building which has now become the face of the business. Aldridge also noted that this façade renovation has already inspired another remodel across the street contributing to an entire block being transformed and helping the DDA board reach their goal of expanding its footprint one building at a time.

About the Georgia Downtown Association: The Georgia Downtown Association is a non-profit statewide organization that connects communities and professionals that are committed to downtown vitality. GDA provides accredited training programs for downtown development professionals, advocates for Georgia’s downtowns, and educates private and public sectors on the economic benefits of a thriving downtown. GDA also hosts the annual Georgia Downtown Conference to offer top notch educational training and networking opportunities.

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