Broad Street always abuzz with activity

July 23, 2018 GMT

Rome has been the poster child for downtown development in Georgia over the last two decades. The Broad Street business district is constantly evolving and it is rare that a month goes by without some sort of construction activity.

As is the case with a lot of small businesses, some succeed, some don’t and change is the one constant on Broad Street. Downtown Development Director Amanda Carter said that over the first half of 2018, there has been a net gain of 12 new businesses in the downtown district. The change has added 31 more employees to the downtown workforce.

It’s the DDA’s emphasis on bringing additional loft residences to downtown that is fueling much of the work

Work at the corner of Third Avenue and Broad Street is dominating the picture now. Ira Levy’s Lofts at Third and Broad are beginning to take shape. Foundation work took a lot longer than anticipated but the contractors are busy framing up the 26 third and fourth floor residential space. Six retail spaces will be located on the ground level with dedicated parking on a second floor deck. The mixed use retail/condominium development is now slated to be open sometime during the first quarter of 2019.

The conversion of second and third story commercial properties into residential units has taken off in recent years beginning with the renovation of the old Forrest Hotel, continuing with Greystone Hotel building on Second Avenue, then the Curry-West Lofts on Second Avenue and more recently Greg Sumner’s project, The Griffin in the 200 block of Broad Street, featuring 15 luxury apartments.

Up in the 400 block, the latest development involved the expansion of LaScala Restaurant into the former Roman Trading Company on the ground floor of the 415 Broad Street building. Anthony Barba said the project is being done in two phases. The first phase will involve creation of a wine tasting area that will be an extension of the existing ground floor bar and cafe.

“We’ve always had a first right of refusal on that space,” Barba said. “That’s something we hope to have open in mid-September.” The space further to the rear will provide additional kitchen space, additional bar space and perhaps a game room.

Nathan Roberts is also still in the process of renovating his building at 409 Broad, which used to house the Blue Ribbon Shoe Shop and his own ArborHaven Investments office. The final use of the property is still to be determined. Harry Brock giving the former POSH consignment shop at 412 Broad Street a facelift and converting the second floor of that building for a family residence.

In the Cotton Block, Dr. Raj Miniyar’s experiment with an International Food Court at 114 Broad Street has not panned out and first floor space in that building is available. Apartments are located on the second floor of that building as well. Just a couple of doors down, 110 Broad Street had been slated for an upscale pizza restaurant that never opened and the building has been for sale for close to a year.

At least four buildings on Broad Street are actively on the market, including the Johnny’s New York Style Pizza building at 233 broad. Owner Bob Blumberg said he owns two buildings downtown and it’s just become a little too much to keep up with. Blumberg said his intent has been to sell the building itself and lease back the space to keep the pizza shop open.

More signs that change is the constant in downtown Rome are that 324 Broad Street, currently an insurance office, is for sale, as is 307 Broad Street which has three retail spaces on the street level and ample space for loft apartment conversions on the upper level.