Featured Projects

Joint Development Authority of Franklin, Hart and Stephens Counties – concrete canopies

Taste of Toccoa

Taste of Toccoa

With its natural beauty and convenient location, the City of Toccoa was once known as the “most progressive city in Northeast Georgia.” But over the years, the downtown was becoming ugly, stark, cold and increasingly vacant: a once popular construction project was actually hampering the recovery of the downtown district. The crumbling concrete canopies, erected in the early 1970’s through urban renewal, had covered the architectural beauty of downtown buildings and closed off vehicular traffic to create a “mall,” but the mall businesses were either closing or struggling, and the canopy needed to be removed. After previous attempts to begin the process in 1996 and 2001, the Joint Development Authority of Franklin, Hart and Stephens Counties turned to the OneGeorgia Authority in June 2006 for financial assistance. The OneGeorgia Authority awarded the JDA a grant of $339,409 and partnered with five other state agencies (CDBG, ARC, USDA, DCA, and DOT) to provide $1.8 million along with local funding of $552,000 for the project. During the project, private interest in downtown increased. Thirty-three storefronts were renovated (under the guidance of the GA Mountains RDC Historic Preservation Planner), 11 new business located in downtown, 17 new full-time jobs and 28 part-time jobs were created. Private investment in downtown during this time was $3.5 million. Toccoa’s main street, Doyle Street, has now been open to vehicular traffic since May 2008, and the change in downtown is stunning. Property values are increasing, and more people are showing interest in restoring neglected buildings in the historic district. New jobs are being created, and tourists and locals alike are visiting downtown Toccoa. Efforts that contributed to the community support for the project were community surveys conducted county-wide, a University of Georgia (UGA) design charrette, renderings of individual buildings without the canopies provided by the GA Trust for Historic Preservation and UGA Community Design, Planning and Preservation. Thanks to these efforts, Toccoa is once again recognized as a progressive city. A dramatic change has occurred in a relatively short time in Toccoa’s now “local historic district.”


Tagged: tourism, stephens county, toccoa, equity, onegeorgia