VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Two projects are forging ahead to preserve history while making way for a prosperous future in downtown Valdosta. Leaders in government and small business are working to bring new life to buildings that are over 100 years old.
“I just have a passion for starting businesses,” shared Daniel Bayman. He is leading the project to restore the historical McKey Building. “The main challenge is: we’re doing a historical renovation, so there are a lot of guidelines you have to follow to keep the historic aspects such as wooden windows and original flooring,” Bayman added.
For years, the building was home to clothing business and other ventures.
“We’re hoping to be the first boutique hotel in downtown Valdosta in a few decades,” Bayman said. “One of the things that we got blessed with is we saw a 23 percent growth in our county compared to what we were expecting. People are realizing that small town living has a lot to offer.”
The U.S. Census shows Lowndes County’s population went from 118,251 in 2020 119,276 in 2021.
Across the street from Bayman’s project, works is happening on another building designed to attract even more people to downtown Valdosta.
“I am one of those people who can get a little hysterical about the historical,” shared Paige Dukes. Dukes was talking about the historical Lowndes County Courthouse. The building is in the middle of a $9 million restoration project.
“If we want to continue to be better in the future, we have to every now and then remember where we came from,” Dukes said.
Dukes is the Lowndes County Manager and knows a lot about the history here. She said this building was first opened in 1905. Now a special purpose local option sales tax is paying for the work to restore these walls and the halls inside to their original look.
“The first floor is really going to be an exciting place,” Dukes added. “It’s planned to be the hub of all the inspiration of economic development here in our community.”
It’s that development that she said goes hand in hand with the new hotel coming together across the street.
“It’s great,” said Bayman. “Valdosta has lacked in certain areas, but we’re really hitting our stride now.”
Leaders with the McKey Hotel hope to start taking bookings spring of next year. The courthouse should be finished next summer and will still feature QR code tours for visitors once complete.