Proposed project could breathe new life into former bank property

By Laura Camper /[email protected]

The former property of the Newnan Federal Savings and Loan building in downtown Newnan could get a new life next year.

Last week, members of the Newnan Planning and Zoning Commission approved a Certificate of Suitability for a proposed downtown commercial and residential development on the 19 Jefferson Street site, designed by KA Oldham Design.

Tracy Dunnavant, the city’s director of planning and zoning, said the project fits with the area’s Central Building District zoning. But it will have to go through the building permit process before moving forward, Dunnavant added.

Bill Stephenson, building manager, said that at this time the city has not received any applications for building permits for the project.

“The C of A (certificate of suitability) is very preliminary to any type of construction project that may happen to Newnan,” Stephenson said via email.

While it’s unclear when they’ll hand in the application, property owners John Strickland, Ryan Brooks and Scott Stokes hope to begin in six to eight months, in the spring of 2023, in the first phase of the project they have said.

The project would include the demolition of the drive-in of the old bank and the construction of two new buildings, one labeled residential-commercial and the other commercial on the file submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The first phase will be the commercial building, which will house approximately 10,000 square feet of office space, John Strickland said. The old bank building is 100% occupied, leading them to believe that the new offices will fill up quickly once built, they said. They know other communities are currently seeing a glut of office space as more people work from home, but said they believe Newnan will buck that trend.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty in our economy right now,” Brooks said. “But I think the three of us, Kip (Oldham, architect) included, think Coweta County and the town of Newnan…Newnan is going to be a destination that a lot of other people around here are going to be heading to.”

Strickland agreed, adding that they were trying to fill a niche in the city.

“We’re trying to find a middle ground with the size of office spaces,” Strickland said. “We want to try to do 1,500 square foot suites, which makes it affordable for small businesses.”

They’ve tried to provide everything needed for tenants of future spaces, and even with the extra buildings, Oldham has managed to squeeze in a few more parking spaces than there are, Brooks said.

The property is very well located in downtown Newnan and this will give more opportunities for businesses to locate there, Stokes said.

The mixed-use building, constructed in the second phase, will have six to eight high-end studios or apartments spread over two upper floors. The first floor will have approximately 2,500 square feet of office space. Renderings show the space being used as a restaurant.

“There’s a lot of new stuff going on, but we’re definitely creating opportunities to bring more investment to downtown Newnan,” Stokes said. There are a lot of things that could go into these spaces to create – I keep saying create value – to create other options for the citizens here.

One thing that won’t change is the old bank building.

This was built in the early 1900s with the rear addition built in the late 1980s, Strickland said. The building has a special meaning for him.

“My dad actually, he was president of the bank there and he worked there from 1968 to 1991,” Strickland said. “During my secondary studies, I worked for the bank there. (This building is) very personal to me.

The project is personal to all of them.

“This is our home,” Brooks said. “With everything changing in our economy, I feel more comfortable investing in Newnan than anywhere else, I can tell you that.”