Business owners share thoughts on Warner Robins downtown development

"They need to give us a facelift, just like Perry has done, just like Macon has done. I don't think knocking it down is the answer."
Downtown Warner Robins

WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)— Warner Robins leader have talked about creating a downtown for many years, with discussions being centered around Commercial Circle.

Carmen Antonio is the owner of West End Frames and Still Life Cocktail Club. She says downtown doesn’t need to be built from scratch, because it already exists.

“They need to give us a facelift, just like Perry has done, just like Macon has done. I don’t think knocking it down is the answer,” she said.

Michael Ellis, Bar Manager at Still Life Cocktail Club, says he wants to see Commercial Circle become more like a traditional downtown area.

“I think just fixing up a couple of the buildings gives a lot more opportunity for this area to grow and keep the community true to what it used to be and what it still is,” he said.

Antonio is hoping the city will invest in business and properties currently on Commercial Circle. He say that will allow businesses to grow organically.

“I think by getting upstarts and new people in here instead of corporations or big box stores. I think it would be a fun place to come downtown,” she said.

Director of Economic and Community Development for the City of Warner Robins, Kate Hogan, says people are drawn to Commercial Circle as a historic downtown area.

“There’s some challenges there because there’s not many historic buildings,” Hogan said. “But it’s more driven by the public, and by political leadership as well, rather than something that I’m pushing.”

We asked Hogan about business owners concerns about buildings being torn down to make way for a new downtown development.

“Building quality is definitely something we need to address down there and also opportunity as far as bringing revitalization to the commercial circle area,” she said.

Lenny Samples is the owner of the Barber Shop on Commercial Circle. He echo’s Antonio’s feelings about the city investing in the area the way it is now.

“It’s been here forever, people know about it and they want to see change in Warner Robins… change is coming and I don’t see why commercial circle can’t be part of that change,” he said.

Hogan says the downtown development project is still in the early stages. The city is still identifying opportunities and challenges associated with creating a downtown.

Categories: Business, Featured, Houston County, Local News, WMGT