Statesboro native and local entrepreneur Josh Whitfield has begun what will be the most transformational project yet on the Blue Mile corridor. He has purchased a five-acre tract of land downtown near the post office on South College St. that once housed West Building Supply decades ago. Prior to West, there were tobacco warehouses on that site.
Named “West District,” the site will see the creation of a “Disney-esque” extension of downtown when complete.
“Our vision is to build the project to replicate the existing downtown,” Whitfield said. “It will include brick facades, landscaping and aesthetic details that give the feel of the existing downtown buildings that are a century old.
“We will brick the front of the warehouse and construct an operating wooden water tower which we will use to house reclaimed water for irrigation. We want to develop this project so that it will reflect the unique and passionate vision of the Blue Mile committee and our community.”
Josh was inspired to take on this project by his father Michael, who is also a developer and has developed unique projects throughout the south.
Demolition has begun on the project with site development and renovation of 50,000 square feet of the remaining structure, which will serve as the anchor for the project and will house Whitfield Signs.
From the West site, Whitfield donated a 15,000-square foot structure to Broken Shackle ranch which is being disassembled and will be reassembled at 7th Mile Farms and will house a gymnasium.
Also, a large covered awning is being donated to Mighty Man Ministry, which will be used as work space for the ministry.
In front of the anchor building, there will be two rows of new construction that will line an entrance street into the development. The two-story buildings will be able to accommodate office and retail space from 600 to 6,000 square feet plus loft apartments. The project will offer space for lease and buildings for sale.
“We know for this project to be successful we need others to share our excitement and commitment,” Whitfield said. “There are opportunities for businesses and investors to plug into the project. We are working closely with the city, county, the Downtown Development Authority and the Blue Mile Committee for support of the project.
“In addition to revitalizing an important but forgotten part or our downtown, we are creating a space that will be fun to live, work and play. More importantly, we hope to create nearly 100 jobs with the project.”
Their goal is to initially market the project to the service and creative industry allowing them to have a much needed creative space, centrally located to operate their businesses. This will give them great visibility and many of the amenities of working downtown with ample free parking throughout the project.
Josh founded Whitfield Signs in 2011, which has grown now to more than 20 employees. With continued growth, Whitfield expects the company to employ more than 30 in the near future. Their uniqueness is developing the company as a design first company helping clients create and solidify their business identities and brands.
Whitfield has partnered with universities across the country helping them rebrand their athletic facilities. One of the most incredible examples of the company’s work is on display at Paulson Stadium and Hanner Fieldhouse. It is stunning how they transformed Hanner.
Keely Fennell and Darron Burnette truly had a “field of dreams” vision for downtown when they launched the Blue Mile concept. After years of work and national recognition, it is wonderful to see entrepreneurs becoming excited about the vision and investing in it.
Bryan Davis and Ray Hendley of Hendley Properties have invested heavily on the residential side of the project which has made an extraordinary difference. Seeing public-private partnerships like this is the key to revitalizing and moving our downtown forward.
I applaud Whitfield’s commitment to the Blue Mile and our community and predict this will help jump start many amazing revitalization projects throughout our downtown.