Georgia Military College Opens in Dublin Skyscraper

November 6, 2015

Photo courtesy of The Courier Herald, Dublin, GA.
This story originally appeared in the November 2015 edition of Georgia's Cities.

The Georgia Military College Dublin Campus recently opened in downtown Dublin, with Gov. Nathan Deal attend­ing the grand opening ceremony.
The ceremony marked the opening of the restored 1913 First National Bank building that will house Dublin’s newest college campus.
“Thriving communities are dedicated to enriching economic competitiveness and quality of life for citizens,” said Deal. “This restoration of Dublin’s First Na­tional Bank building exempli­fies the vast potential of public-private partnerships. Georgia Military College’s campus ex­pansion to the revamped Dublin Skyscraper will expand access to higher education, create jobs and enhance economic development in this community.”
The $4 million historical res­toration of Dublin’s “Skyscraper” was a long time coming for Dub­lin residents, as the six story land­mark was shuttered for decades. Attempts to revive the property through the years have been val­iant, but never came to fruition— until recently.
Gainesville native and Dublin busi­ness owner Jim Walters took inter­est in the project and partnered with the Dublin Downtown Development Authority, Garbutt Construction Com­pany and Georgia Military College to bring the massive restoration to life.
“The Old First National Bank build­ing is one of the biggest, oldest and most architecturally-important build­ings in middle Georgia,” said Joshua Kight, executive director of the Dub­lin Downtown Development Author­ity. “It literally towers over downtown and can be seen from miles around. By restoring this icon, Dublin is showing that our downtown is back. We’ve got energy and vision and we’re commit­ted to making sure this is a place we can be proud of.”
Kight called the skyscraper restora­tion “the icing on top” of all the other recent improvements in downtown Dublin, including the Bicentennial Pla­za, the Fred Roberts Hotel and the Old Post Office.
“By working together, Dublin’s pub­lic and private sectors have restored a beautiful, walkable downtown that we can proudly show off to our friends and visitors,” he added.
Now open to the pub­lic, the building includes such amenities as a locally-owned eatery, the Land­mark Cafe & Market, on the ground floor, as well as a bookstore and common study area on the mezza­nine level. GMC admin­istrative offices and class­rooms will occupy the 2nd, 3rd, and eventually, 4th floors, with the 5th and 6th floors available for lease as professional space.
Garbutt Construction Company, headquartered in Dublin and considered an expert in historical preservation, was tapped by the devel­oper to complete the work on the sky­scraper in a timespan of seven months.

“This project was too big for one individual to take on,” said Charlie Garbutt, president of Garbutt Con­struction. “The Old First National Bank building was the ‘elephant in the room’ as far as downtown Dub­lin revitalization. It took someone with the faith in Dublin like Jim Walters to be the catalyst for the rest of us to come together to make it hap­pen. It was fun to watch. It also took foresight and wisdom at the state level to recently enhance historic tax cred­its for the state of Georgia. That was a deal changer. Think of the projects and jobs all across Georgia that these tax credits have created.”
As for the ambitious schedule for the project to be com­pleted, Garbutt add­ed, “I have to give a lot of credit to Tracy Lively, our project superintendent and our subcontractor team who embraced a very innovative project delivery process called ‘pull planning’ that brings the LEAN philosophy to the construction industry. To deliver a completely reno­vated, 19th century building with 21st century in­frastructure in just over seven months is pretty remarkable.”
An accredited two-year lib­eral arts school, Georgia Military College will began classes at its Dublin campus on October 10.
“We are incredibly excited to be part of the Dublin Commu­nity,” said Georgia Military Col­lege President Lt., Gen (Ret) Wil­liam B. Caldwell, IV. “They have welcomed us with open arms. This is a true collaboration as we work closely with the Dublin leadership to make this a pre­mier educational facility for the community.”

Dublin celebrated a week ear­lier with a “Light the Skyscraper” celebration where crowds took to the streets and counted down the moments until the building was lighted for the first time in decades.
“This has been a great day for Dublin,” said Dublin Mayor Phil Best at the opening. “It is amazing how much this project has brought the spirit of community to our city. I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t tell Jim Walters just how grate­ful we are for his willingness to invest in our community asking very little in return. I wish our new anchor tenant, GMC-Dublin the very best and thank them for their commitment in helping educate our young folks.”

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