Blueprints: Calumet Village
The Georgia Conservancy is working with community leaders in LaGrange, Georgia to envision a revitalized future for the town’s Calumet Village neighborhood.
Recent efforts of our Sustainable Growth program have centered on thoughtful revitalization, infill and retrofitting of downtowns and in-town neighborhoods, specifically in smaller cities across Georgia. Through our Blueprints for Successful Communities technical planning program and with knowledge from several years’ research on small town sustainability, the Georgia Conservancy will provide meaningful support for the residents and civic leaders of LaGrange who are invested in Calumet Village.
Calumet Village is located within walking and sight distance of LaGrange’s thriving downtown square and is linked to LaGrange’s mill economy history, as a community of workers serving the former Calumet Mill.As a former mill village, the neighborhood has character and history not commonly found in suburban neighborhoods and has a walkable scale that is desirable today and was a necessity during the Calumet Mill’s operation. Recent and current City investments in Calumet’s park and sidewalk inventory demonstrate a commitment to stabilizing this neighborhood. This community framework of the past, supported by present investments, create an uncommon in-town neighborhood asset. The neighborhood should be serving as a contributor to the vitality and character of downtown and Lafayette Square and an anchor to greater stability. It is not today.
Several neighborhood streets were disconnected when Lafayette Parkway was constructed and the neighborhood area will experience further dislocation once the Georgia Department of Transportation completes the widening of Hamilton Road to its south.
The City of LaGrange is currently contracted with design firm Perkins+Will to undertake corridor studies of Lafayette Parkway, Hamilton Road and Whitesville Road. The combination of that project and ours can meaningfully influence Calumet Village’s future for the better. Now is the ideal time to work with residents and local leadership to create a shared image of a renewed Calumet Village.
With our partners at Georgia Tech’s College of Design, the Georgia Conservancy will merge the desired outcomes into concepts that are technically feasible, environmentally sustainable, and financially viable. We will present these concepts to the community for feedback and eventually as recommendations to the City Council, with the goal of having these concepts thoughtfully incorporated into Calumet’s future development plan.
The community-supported revitalization concept of this neighborhood (with design alternatives) will build on its current street grid, its proximity to downtown, and its accessibility from both Lafayette Parkway and Hamilton Road. At the city’s request, we will ensure that our recommended concepts consider neighborhoods and infrastructure just outside Calumet Village’s borders to avoid potential conflicts on land use, development patterns or other conditions. We are working with the Calumet Village Neighborhood Association, the Downtown Development Authority, City of Lagrange staff, elected leadership and the ongoing corridor design team at Perkins+Will to develop these concepts.
We will accomplish this work through historical research; site visits; a thorough review of existing City plans and priorities; and public and one-on-one engagement with Calumet residents and City leadership. Potential Impact of our Work: By focusing our sustainable community planning efforts on the stabilization and revitalization of historic Calumet Village, we will be serving residents, property owners, churches, businesses and other stakeholders of this LaGrange neighborhood. We will also contribute to downtown’s continued renaissance (Calumet is within walking distance of Lafayette Square) by leveraging public infrastructure improvements recently made by the City of LaGrange. Implementation of our recommendations will help address public safety and blight that is a burden for all of LaGrange. As the county seat, the vibrancy of LaGrange’s neighborhoods and commercial districts are a reflection of the overall opportunity within Troup County. They send a message to both existing and future citizens about the quality of life and desirability of this area, and that message must be a positive one.
Public Workshop #2
On November 21st, the Georgia Conservancy, alongside our partners, hosted the second public workshop in LaGrange, Ga's Calumet Village neighborhood. In the workshop, GC staff discussed findings based on feedback from the first public workshop as well as an analysis of over 100 hand-delivered surveys of residents and other community members. The surveys showed that Calumet Village’s biggest assets are the park, the people, its history and its proximity to downtown.
Challenges in the neighborhood include public safety concerns, a lack of housing options, and no easy connections to some of their assets, like downtown and the farmer’s market. Based on community feedback and professional expertise, the Georgia Conservancy with the Georgia Tech College of Design, is in the process of narrowing down specific recommendations around several categories of ideas:
- Implement existing plans – specifically a multi-use PATH trail that would connect Calumet Village to the greater LaGrange areas; and the LaGrange Corridors Plan (Perkins+Will) that creates a more beautiful and better functioning alternative to several major vehicular corridors into the city.
- Focus commercial efforts on Greenville Street – there is existing commercial here already and more can be supported.
- Improve pedestrian access within the neighborhood and to nearby assets – and increase the number of users of Calumet Park by creating more programs and activities.
- Improve housing choice by reviewing existing ordinances to provide for alternative types of multi-family housing.
THANK YOU to all the community members who attended workshops 1 and 2, Dr. Robert Tucker, the City of LaGrange planning staff, the Callaway Foundation, and Dr. George Henry and (Calumet Village Community Association) for their leadership and initiative in this process.