WINDER - Winder Mayor David Maynard says the city has made no final decisions on what should replace the historic Granite Hotel once it is gone, but whatever it is, he hopes it will attract people downtown.
City Council decided last December that the weather-worn and dilapidated building had to go, mostly because restoration would be too costly and no investors had come forward to underwrite and back the project. They voted to demolish the Granite and accepted the lowest bid from several contractors over objections from preservationists who wanted to save it.
Late last week demolition workers erected steel fencing to surround the century-old structure, blocking off the sidewalk.
But Mayor Maynard says the Granite symbolizes the dilemma faced by towns all over Georgia, all over the Southeast, where downtowns declined and retailers moved out to the suburban malls and shopping centers.
"I've heard some ideas," Maynard said. "One being a parking lot, one being a park for kids with the idea of bringing something that will attract people to downtown to help benefit the other buildings that are there. The Council will have to make some decisions and figure out which way to go."
Maynard hopes the Street Scape program gets started this year or early next year to improve Broad Street's appearance. He also wants to see the Downtown Development Authority, Winder Historic Preservation and downtown merchants unite to get downtown Winder revitalized.
"In my mind, the only thing that will save downtown is that we have to get business back downtown," Maynard said. "It'll take an endless amount of money to keep pumping into it to save it unless business is there. If people will shop downtown and support the businesses, that's the only hope to save it."
There is something else that Maynard believes may help