Renaissance Fellow Program Underway in Gainesville

A University of Georgia landscape architecture student selected for the Downtown Renaissance Fellows program launched a 10-week downtown improvement project this month with municipal officials in Gainesville, led by Rusty Ligon (Community Development Director), Catiel Felts (Communications and Tourism Director) and Regina Mansfield (Main Street Manager).
Gainesville and two other Georgia municipalities are getting technical and design assistance for revitalization projects this summer through the new fellowship, a partnership among the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a public service and outreach unit of UGA; the UGA College of Environment and Design (CED) and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA).
As a Downtown Renaissance Fellow, Elizabeth Lawandales was selected to work with Institute of Government faculty and Gainesville city leaders to provide technical expertise on summer-long projects such as park and green space planning, corridor entrance design and streetscape improvements. Downtown Renaissance Fellows also are working this summer with the cities of Milledgeville and Porterdale.
Lawandales will be working alongside Gainesville’s Community Development Department and Main Street Program to create an urban design handbook that municipal officials will use as a reference for future improvements. She also will design improvements for two downtown streets to incorporate elements such as wider sidewalks for outdoor restaurant seating and enhanced landscaping. In addition, she will catalog site elements, materials and landscape features already incorporated in downtown designs.
Downtown Renaissance Fellows drawn from CED landscape architecture undergraduates will complete specific projects for each city during their fellowship. The three cities that were chosen for this year’s inaugural program are covering half the cost of the fellowships; GMA, through its Georgia Cities Foundation, is providing the remaining financial support.
The Downtown Renaissance Fellows program is coordinated by Danny Bivins, a downtown development specialist with the Institute of Government.
The participating cities get assistance on downtown improvement initiatives from enthusiastic, knowledgeable scholars. Renaissance Fellows benefit by getting the opportunity to work on real-life projects, according to Bivins.
“This is an additional resource that these city leaders don’t have right now because their staff is already fully extended,” Bivins said.