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The City of Thomasville is moving forward with plans to transform property acquired in 2013 to a visitor and event center. The property, located at 207 South Dawson Street, is presently occupied by Roses.

The first phase of the process to create the downtown event center will begin using a charrette process, giving the opportunity for community involvement in the future design and use of the facility. As part of the charrette, a community open house will be held Monday, June 1st from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. to seek community input and information.

“We plan to use a comprehensive charrette approach with this project because we value the input of our community members,” said Karen Smith, executive director for Main Street and Tourism. “Together, we want to develop a design process that is driven by the vision of our community; in order to formulate that vision, we need to come together and carefully chart our course of action.”

A charrette is a multi-day public planning process that merges a traditional town hall meeting with a hands-on design studio. “The charrette’s primary purpose will be to gain input on how the event center will best serve our community,” said Smith.

The three-day event is planned for June 1- 3at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Parish Hall. In addition to the community open house June 1st, the public is also invited to attend the final day of the charrette Wednesday, June 3rd from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. when a closing presentation to the community will be held.

Roses Stores, owned and operated by Variety Wholesalers Inc., requested an early release from their lease in order to move forward with plans to relocate its South Dawson Street store to East Pine Street Blvd. Enhancements to the new location, which will have 57,000 square feet of space, will include a new flooring and furniture department, expanded departments and an improved checkout experience.

“We’re pleased to be opening an expanded and enhanced Roses store, which will enable us to better serve the needs of customers in the Thomasville community,” said Wilson Sawyer, chief operating officer for Variety Stores.” “With our commitment to deliver great values, products and prices, we look forward to continued success in this new location and to welcoming customers to this new store.”

The relocation of Roses has now accelerated the timeline to transform the South Dawson Street property to a visitors and events center. Using the charrette approach will allow organizers to create the final designs that incorporate public ideas and feedback.

“We used the charrette approach previously as we developed plans for a new Creative District in the downtown historic area known as ‘The Bottom,’” said Smith. “This collaborative approach was very beneficial and we anticipate it being just as valuable in our planning phase for the event center.”

LRK, a nationally recognized design firm with expertise in planning, urban design and architecture, has been selected to help lead the Thomasville community through the charrette process.

“The firm is celebrated for their ability to create unique spaces that promote civic engagement, enhance community life, and stand the test of time for generations to come.” said Brian Herrmann, city planner. “LRK has a reputation of working well with both public and private-sector clients and facilitating collaborative partnerships, something that is key for our project as we look for ways to incorporate community input into the design.”

“LRK has put together an expert team with an ideal combination of technical skills and resources as well as local knowledge and experience to facilitate the process of soliciting public input into the development of a civic building with exceptional connectivity to the heart of downtown and our surrounding neighborhoods,” said Smith.

Once the charrette is complete, all feedback will be combined into a comprehensive report, expected by early Fall, that describes the outcomes from the three-day event. It will also include a property site plan that describes the preferred multi-use facility and addresses parking, as well as the potential for expansion. “We will also receive an illustrative plan for the surrounding neighborhood that addresses urban design, pedestrian circulation, connectivity to downtown and the creative district,” said Smith. “The goal will be to connect this facility to the trail system, so that will be included as well.”

“We hope that the community will take an interest in this phase of our process to develop a facility that will meet our needs, both for a visitors center and an events center,” Smith said. “We truly want this to be a collaborative effort, and we look forward to hearing from a diverse group of citizens.”

Questions about the charrette may be directed to the City of Thomasville Planning Department at 227-4118 or Thomasville Visitors Center at 229-228-7977.