Por­terdale works to­ward re­vamped down­town

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Kristi Korn­gold loves Por­terdale’s rich his­tory, and through her de­signs for an im­proved down­town, she hopes to help the city con­tin­ues its re­vi­tal­iza­tion.

Korn­gold, a Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia land­scape archi- tec­ture stu­dent, was tasked with de­sign­ing a park next to the Yel­low River and new looks for the out­side of the soon-to-be-ren­o­vated Por­terdale gym­na­sium and the down­town as a whole, while also work­ing to find park­ing so­lu­tions for fu­ture tourists the town hopes to at­tract.

“I think Por­terdale is a great city,” Korn­gold said Thurs­day. “I loved the his­tory be­hind it and re­ally wanted to bring that into my de­signs. It used to be a very hap­pen­ing city … I want to bring back the his­tory and char­ac­ter of it. I

feel it’s all still there; I just want to un­cover it and help them make small changes to bring it back.”

“In sim­ple, in­ex­pen­sive phases, this city can see dra­matic and pos­i­tive re­sults. It’s time to sweep up the old fac­tory mill dust and re­veal the beauty un­derneath,” Korn­gold says in the 37-page doc­u­ment she cre­ated for city of­fi­cials.

Korn­gold, in the last year of UGA’s five-year pro­gram, came to Por­terdale through an in­tern­ship with the Carl Vin­son In­sti­tute of Govern­ment and the Ge­or­gia Mu­nic­i­pal As­so­ci­a­tion’s Ge­or­gia Down­town Re­nais­sance Part­ner­ship. Plenty of park­ing

City of­fi­cials want to con­nect the city to its down­town and the pro­posed Yel­low River Park ad­ja­cent to the river’s Main Street bridge. One of their first pri­or­i­ties was find­ing enough park­ing.

How­ever, Korn­gold said the city ac­tu­ally has a wealth of park­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, in both ex­ist­ing pub­lic ar­eas and on unused pri­vate prop­erty.

Korn­gold said there 295 ex­ist­ing park­ing spots, not in­clud­ing the largest lot next to the Yel­low River, which is where a new park could be lo­cated. An­other 156 park­ing spa­ces or more could be added around the city, she said.

There are 36 on-street park­ing spots down­town, and 155 spots around the Por­terdale Mill Lofts and down­town shops. City Hall, the Pres­by­te­rian church and park­ing be­hind the gym add an­other 104 spots.

Pro­posed spots in­clude large con­crete spa­ces on Lau­rel and Hem­lock streets and a cor­ner lot on Peachtree Street. There also are sev­eral ex­ist­ing con­crete spa­ces farther down Hem­lock Street by the rail­road de­pot that could pro­vide more park­ing. None of the pro­posed spots is more than a 5-minute walk from the pro­posed Yel­low River Park.

“I thought they didn’t re­ally need to in­stall more park­ing spots, be­cause that uses re­sources, time and money… you might as well use the area and land you have in­stead of cre­at­ing com­pletely new,” Korn­gold said.

While there might be a con­cern about hav­ing peo­ple walk through cer­tain ar­eas of town, Korn­gold said re­design­ing ar­eas can trans­form them over time into dif­fer­ent ar­eas. If the city needs to add more light­ing, or maybe a po­lice of­fi­cer at times, those steps can pay off over time as an area im­proves, she said. Yel­low River Park

If park­ing can be found else­where, the ex­ist­ing gravel park­ing lot at the cor­ner of Hem­lock and Main streets can be con­verted into the Yel­low River Park.

Korn­gold cre­ated four con­cep­tual de­signs to give city of­fi­cials ex­am­ples of what could be done, in­clud­ing var­i­ous ele­ments like ded­i­cated greenspaces, an in­ter­ac­tive splash pad, walk­ing trails and col­or­ful plant­ing beds and veg­e­ta­tion. No cost es­ti­mates were done be­cause the park plans are so con­cep­tual.

“The goal is to re­ally at­tract peo­ple to come to Por­terdale, not only to cre­ate a place for the ex­ist­ing com­mu­nity, but to ex­pand out­side of the dis­trict lines and have peo­ple re­al­ize the beauty in Por­terdale,” Korn­gold said.

That would bring peo­ple to town to spend money on food and ac­tiv­i­ties, like river recre­ation, she said. Out­side of Por­terdale gym

The Por­terdale gym is fi­nally be­ing ren­o­vated this year fol­low­ing the 2005 fire that gut­ted it and de­stroyed the roof. The gym is be­ing turned into an open-roof com­mu­nity gath­er­ing space that can host events, but of­fi­cials be­lieve a ren­o­vated in­te­rior will need an equally at­trac­tive ex­te­rior.

Korn­gold crafted three pos­si­ble plans for tree and veg­e­ta­tion plant­ings out­side the gym, in­clud­ing op­tions that cost $1,818, $3,299 and $5,441. Each would use dif­fer­ent styles and col­ors of plants and have dif­fer­ent-sized out­door pa­tios with dif­fer­ent floor­ing. All plants are drought-re­sis­tant and fairy low main­te­nance. The front of the gym also could be im­proved by plant­ing grass and adding veg­e­ta­tion.

For draw­ings of the plans, check out Korn­gold’s plans at Cov­News.com. Spruced up store­fronts

City of­fi­cials also asked Korn­gold to look at op­tions to use veg­e­ta­tion, signs and other street ele­ments to make down­town and the city’s main al­ley more at­trac­tive.

An in­ter­me­di­ate step would be to widen down­town side­walks, while Korn­gold also looked even fur­ther into the fu­ture should city of­fi­cials wish to ex­pand the down­town cor­ri­dor, which would re­quire mov­ing City Hall. More work ahead

Por­terdale of­fi­cials were so im­pressed with Korn­gold’s work they’ve asked her to stay on for the fall se­mes­ter.

“We hit a home run with Kristi. We’ve had a suc­ces­sion of de­sign stu­dents, but this young woman is very tal­ented and puts the whole pack­age to­gether. She has a beau­ti­ful pre­sen­ta­tion, and it’s a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity for us,” said City Man­ager Bob Thom­son.

To view more of Korn­gold’s work visit Cov­News. com.

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Por­terdale is con­sid­er­ing pro­pos­als to re­vi­tal­ize the city, and re­tain its charms.

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