Launch Slideshow

Eagle & Phenix Mills Architects: Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein, Atlanta (lead architect); Barnes & Co. Architects, Columbus. Completion: 2009. brief: Mixed-use redevelopment of one of the South¢s largest textile mills.

Colombus, GA.

After its founding, in 1828, Columbus, Ga., was a textile town. Cotton was the cash crop, and its manufacture was the primary industry.

Colombus, GA.

After its founding, in 1828, Columbus, Ga., was a textile town. Cotton was the cash crop, and its manufacture was the primary industry.

  • Eagle & Phenix Mills Architects: Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein, Atlanta (lead architect); Barnes & Co. Architects, Columbus. Completion: 2009. brief: Mixed-use redevelopment of one of the South¢s largest textile mills.

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    Eagle & Phenix Mills Architects: Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein, Atlanta (lead architect); Barnes & Co. Architects, Columbus. Completion: 2009. brief: Mixed-use redevelopment of one of the South¢s largest textile mills.

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    Roberto Caligaris / Southern Views Magazine

    Eagle & Phenix Mills Architects: Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein, Atlanta (lead architect); Barnes & Co. Architects, Columbus. Completion: 2009. Brief: Mixed-use redevelopment of one of the South's largest textile mills.

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    Dan Reynolds Photography

    The Villages of Benning Architects: Torti Gallas and Partners, Silver Spring, Md. (new construction); Andras Allen Starr Architecture (renovations). Completion: 2015. Brief: For the Army base, 3,185 new single- and multifamily units and 239 renovated homes.

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    Cindy Cox / Open Air Architecture

    Koonce Place Architects: HighGrove Partners, Austell, Ga. (site plan); Historical Concepts, Peachtree City, Ga. (residential design). Completion: 2011. Brief: Includes 700 homes and 44 multifamily residences.

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    Andras Allen Starr Architecture

    St. Francis Hospital Medical Office Building Architects: Howell Rusk Dodson, Atlanta (lead architect); Andras Allen Starr Architecture, Columbus. Completion: 2011. Brief: A $100 million, 400,000-s.f. addition for a growing population.

After its founding, in 1828, Columbus, Ga., was a textile town. Cotton was the cash crop, and its manufacture was the primary industry. But as the 20th century progressed and farms and mills became less profitable, the city—just two hours south of Atlanta on the Chattahoochee River—diversified. “Columbus is now the home of a variety of ‘home-grown’ industries, from banking, investment, and insurance to high-tech materials fabrication and aircraft manufacturing,” says Timothy Jensen, managing director of local firm Hecht Burdeshaw Architects.

The latter industries were spurred by the presence of the Fort Benning Army base, which was established in 1918. But the base doesn’t just propel industry—it’s becoming the main population driver since it was chosen for expansion by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 2005.

“Our region will experience approximately 12 percent growth in population within the next three years,” explains Michael Dunbar, senior vice president of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. “That equates to roughly 30,000 new residents.” As a result, building is booming as developers and town officials brace for increased demand for on- and off-base housing, medical facilities, and schools.

“According to a Wall Street Journal story, the estimated economic impact of the Super Bowl on Tampa is $300 million,” Dunbar says. “The impact of BRAC on the Columbus region is more than 10.6 times more than the Super Bowl in construction alone.”

POPULATION/EMPLOYMENT

2008 population: 187,046. Fort Benning’s growth is expected to create 17,000 jobs.

RESIDENTIAL MARKET

2008 median home value: $119,600.

MARKET STRENGTHS

  • Public–private partnerships
  • Relatively affordable housing
  • Consolidated city/county government

MARKET CONCERNS

  • Urgent need for schools
  • Strained infrastructure
  • Managing sprawl

FORECAST

“Some [are] scared to move forward,” says Leah Braxton, vice president of W.C. Bradley Co. Real Estate. Bradley, however, is continuing its Eagle & Phenix Mills project and working on others. “Growth is coming. We need to make the best of this wonderful economic impact. If we plan well, many will reap rewards.”