Council approves Uptown land deals for zip line, road reopening

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 10, 2013 

Columbus Council approved two land deals Tuesday morning that could make way for a 1,200-foot zip line across the Chattahoochee and the eventual reopening of Front Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets.

Councilors gave City Manager Isaiah Hugley permission to execute a land swap with the W.C. Bradley Co., ceding to it a strip of right of way along the south side of 11th Street from Front Avenue to Bay Avenue and a plot of riverbank adjacent to the Riverclub for a possible expansion of the dining facility. In return, W.C. Bradley would return ownership to the city of the right of way that was once Front Avenue between 13th and 14th.

Councilors also authorized Hugley to execute a land lease agreement with Uptown Whitewater Management, LLC, which manages the whitewater course, for a plot of land on the green space near the intersection of 11th Street and Bay Avenue.

That plot would be the launching point for the zip lone, which will be built and operated by Whitewater Express Inc., the lone outfitter for the city’s whitewater park.

Two parallel zip lines will carry people across the river at speeds up to 40 mph, Whitewater Express owner Dan Gilbert said.

Plans also include an aerial course on the Alabama side along with a short zip line.

Mat Swift, president of W.C. Bradley’s real estate division, said the land deals are just the latest of many steps the community has taken toward redeveloping its riverfront area.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve had land planners that have laid out sort of a blueprint of what we need to do to activate the riverfront for restaurants and retailers.” Swift said. “These are just steps in that process.”

The 11th Street strip of right of way is part of a potential restaurant development in the lower level of a building W.C. Bradley owns there. As for the Riverclub expansion, Swift said with the increased traffic and participation in the area created by whitewater, it’s a perfect time for the club to consider expanding its footprint.

“It’s not a done deal by any means,” Swift said. “We’ll have to take the case to the members and talk to them and find out if they want to take on an expansion,” Swift says.

W.C. Bradley owns the Riverclub property and building and leases it to the membership.

Swift said the seven acres Bradley owns between 13th and 14th Streets on the river are ripe for development, but not immediately. Neither the road reopening nor any development will take place for 18-24 months, when construction and renovation projects on the 13th Street Bridge, the RiverWalk, the 14th Street Bridge plaza and the Mott House are completed.

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