Kristi Korngold loves Porterdale’s rich history, and through her designs for an improved downtown, she hopes to help the city continues its revitalization.
Korngold, a University of Georgia landscape architecture student, was tasked with designing a park next to the Yellow River and new looks for the outside of the soon-to-be-renovated Porterdale gymnasium and the downtown as a whole, while also working to find parking solutions for future tourists the town hopes to attract.
"I think Porterdale is a great city," Korngold said Thursday. "I loved the history behind it and really wanted to bring that into my designs. It used to be a very happening city … I want to bring back the history and character of it. I
feel it’s all still there; I just want to uncover it and help them make small changes to bring it back."
"In simple, inexpensive phases, this city can see dramatic and positive results. It’s time to sweep up the old factory mill dust and reveal the beauty underneath," Korngold says in the 37-page document she created for city officials.
Korngold, in the last year of UGA’s five-year program, came to Porterdale through an internship with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Georgia Municipal Association’s Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership.
Plenty of parking
City officials want to connect the city to its downtown and the proposed Yellow River Park adjacent to the river’s Main Street bridge. One of their first priorities was finding enough parking.
However, Korngold said the city actually has a wealth of parking opportunities, in both existing public areas and on unused private property.
Korngold said there 295 existing parking spots, not including the largest lot next to the Yellow River, which is where a new park could be located. Another 156 parking spaces or more could be added around the city, she said.
There are 36 on-street parking spots downtown, and 155 spots around the Porterdale Mill Lofts and downtown shops. City Hall, the Presbyterian church and parking behind the gym add another 104 spots.
Proposed spots include large concrete spaces on Laurel and Hemlock streets and a corner lot on Peachtree Street. There also are several existing concrete spaces farther down Hemlock Street by the railroad depot that could provide more parking. None of the proposed spots is more than a 5-minute walk from the proposed Yellow River Park.
"I thought they didn’t really need to install more parking spots, because that uses resources, time and money… you might as well use the area and land you have instead of creating completely new," Korngold said.
While there might be a concern about having people walk through certain areas of town, Korngold said redesigning areas can transform them over time into different areas. If the city needs to add more lighting, or maybe a police officer at times, those steps can pay off over time as an area improves, she said.
Yellow River Park
If parking can be found elsewhere, the existing gravel parking lot at the corner of Hemlock and Main streets can be converted into the Yellow River Park.
Korngold created four conceptual designs to give city officials examples of what could be done, including various elements like dedicated greenspaces, an interactive splash pad, walking trails and colorful planting beds and vegetation. No cost estimates were done because the park plans are so conceptual.
"The goal is to really attract people to come to Porterdale, not only to create a place for the existing community, but to expand outside of the district lines and have people realize the beauty in Porterdale," Korngold said.
That would bring people to town to spend money on food and activities, like river recreation, she said.
Outside of Porterdale gym
The Porterdale gym is finally being renovated this year following the 2005 fire that gutted it and destroyed the roof. The gym is being turned into an open-roof community gathering space that can host events, but officials believe a renovated interior will need an equally attractive exterior.
Korngold crafted three possible plans for tree and vegetation plantings outside the gym, including options that cost $1,818, $3,299 and $5,441. Each would use different styles and colors of plants and have different-sized outdoor patios with different flooring. All plants are drought-resistant and fairy low maintenance. The front of the gym also could be improved by planting grass and adding vegetation.
For drawings of the plans, check out Korngold’s plans at CovNews.com.
Spruced up storefronts
City officials also asked Korngold to look at options to use vegetation, signs and other street elements to make downtown and the city’s main alley more attractive.
An intermediate step would be to widen downtown sidewalks, while Korngold also looked even further into the future should city officials wish to expand the downtown corridor, which would require moving City Hall.
More work ahead
Porterdale officials were so impressed with Korngold’s work they’ve asked her to stay on for the fall semester.
"We hit a home run with Kristi. We’ve had a succession of design students, but this young woman is very talented and puts the whole package together. She has a beautiful presentation, and it’s a really good opportunity for us," said City Manager Bob Thomson.