A $200,000 Downtown Development Revolving Loan Fund applied for through the Department of Community Affairs will be used to complete the Mars Theatre District project in downtown LaFayette.
"We [The LaFayette Downtown Development Authority] applied for $250,000 and were awarded $200,000," said Main Street and Economic Development Director Matthew Williams. "Michael Lovelady [a local engineer and businessman who is spearheading the renovation of the historic district] will be responsible for paying it back. We are excited about it. It's the first DDRLF the LaFayette DDA has received."
He noted that even though Lovelady is the LaFayette DDA chairman, he was excluded from all DDRLF application votes.
"We expect the Mars Theatre District to be completed by mid-July," said Williams, adding that the theater itself is almost complete. "When I came here in November the theater was a burnt shell from a fire in the summer of 2011. Now it's Art Deco. The stage is in and the carpet is in. Some people asked us if it was the original theater inside. That was impressive that they thought that."
The DDA is working on paperwork to try to officially name the newly refurbished block the Mars Theatre Historic District.
More development to come?
West LaFayette downtown may soon see more revitalization as well.
The DDA is applying for an Opportunity Zone tax incentive break for new businesses establishing in the area, according to Williams. The DDA is applying to the state of Georgia through the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.
If approved for the Opportunity Zone, tax incentives in the amount of $3,500 per employee hired will be granted to new businesses in the zone. The area includes Chattanooga Street and streets connecting to it on that side of the railroad tracks. Williams hopes to find out whether the city will receive the tax incentives sometime this summer.
"It's a good thing for businesses," he said. "It would encourage new businesses to come into West LaFayette and revitalize the area and create new jobs. [The Opportunity Zone] might go down five or six blocks past the Mars Theatre District. That side of the tracks used to be called Lynnwood."