ATLANTA (AP) Georgia officials are considering the idea of a adding a new tourist attraction to downtown Atlanta in the form of a state history museum.
Gov. Nathan Deal recently toured the old World of Coca-Cola building at the edge of Underground Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
"The building was designed to be a museum, and the governor thought it would an ideal location for a history museum if the price were right and the state was able to attract a significant amount of private dollars," said Brian Robinson, Deal's spokesman.
Officials emphasized that the plans are in the early stages, and several options are being considered.
Georgia has no official state history museum. In the past, it has had halls of fame for state golf, music and sports legends in Augusta and Macon, but poor attendance led lawmakers to slash funding for them a few years ago.
"Telling the state's history is very important. We have had a hodgepodge of historic preservation for years," said George Hooks, a member of the University System Board of Regents, a former state lawmaker.
A state history museum would bring increased tourism to downtown Atlanta, Hooks added.
Underground Atlanta could also benefit from the additional foot traffic, said developer Dan O'Leary, whose company has run the attraction since the late 1990s.
The cost of fixing up the building was set at $17 million in 2011. The governor could include money in next year's budget to jump start the project. Deal has generally had little difficulty getting his bond proposals approved by the General Assembly.
"The first thing we need to do is re-evaluate the building and see what kind of condition it is in," said Paul Melvin of the Georgia Building Authority. "We need a clearer picture of how much it's going to cost."