The City of Powder Springs and the Powder Springs Downtown Development Authority have received the 2020 Great Place Award from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The award was given for the city’s implementation of the Powder Springs Livable Centers Initiative plan and renovations to its town green and historic buildings, which includes the addition of Thurman Springs Park to the downtown area.

The ARC’s 2020 Developments of Excellence awards recognized places that are improving quality in communities across metro Atlanta, with the Great Place Award among four award categories recognizing catalytic projects.

“The city of Powder Springs utilized a Livable Centers Initiative implementation grant to renovate and double the size of its Town Green area. Town Green is now a true anchor for the vibrant Powder Springs community,” the ARC said in a news release. “The project also includes the rehabilitation of three nearby buildings for restaurant and retail uses. This Great Place also promotes walking and biking with a trailhead extension from Main Street along the park that will one day connect to the Silver Comet Trail.”

ARC also highlighted the addition of a splash pad, play structure, seating areas, restrooms and permanent ping-pong table in Thurman Springs Park, along with the park’s multi-use amphitheater known as the Hardy Family Automotive Amphitheater.

“It’s been a pleasure to work in Powder Springs,” said Adam Williamson, senior principal at TSW Design, which was brought on by the city in 2016 to work on the LCI plan.

TSW led the visioning process of the plan’s development, which included discussions with community members and stakeholders.

“What we heard was the same thing they urged in (the LCI study in) 2002 — they wanted a vibrant downtown, so this became a plan really about economic development, preserving a lot of the great history they have there, and then coming up with goals,” Williamson added.

The key goal of Powder Springs’ LCI plan, City Manager Pam Conner said, was for revitalization of Powder Springs’ Town Center.

“Redeveloping underutilized or underused spaces, taking advantage of the Silver Comet Trail, which is just two blocks from the downtown, and then making sure we look at how we can implement and include diverse and quality housing in the downtown and attract more people and businesses to our downtown,” Conner said.

“The key to all of that, which pays attention to our vision, is being mindful and respectful of our historic culture and community, being inspired by the past and then taking advantage or leveraging the opportunities and challenges that are in present day,” Conner added, “whether it’s a recession or COVID, and then being innovative and creative about the future and where we go from here.”

Powder Springs’ downtown has been transformed in 2020 with the completion and opening of Thurman Springs Park. A grand opening celebration in conjunction with an inaugural seafood festival dubbed “Bringing the Sea to the Springs” will be held in May 2021.

“Really, it’s a place for people to gather, but it’s also an economic development tool,” Williamson said of the new park and Town Center. “We’ve seen now already all this, with the Hardy family, a local family, that has bought buildings (downtown and) renovated those. It’s exciting to see — when you build something like this, it really does draw in people to invest.”

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