An abandoned storefront on the Moultrie downtown square will be repurposed into a welcome center where newcomers and visitors can find information about Colquitt County.

The former Citi-Trends store also will house offices and possibly a co-working space for small businesses.

Yusheng Fang, a graduate student in interior design at the UGA Lamar Dodd School of Art produced the design for the building’s redevelopment.

“The welcome center will serve as a cultural communication center for Moultrie so that more people can know about the city,” said Fang, a graduate assistant at the UGA Archway Partnership. Colquitt County was selected as UGA’s first Archway community in 2005. “The process of designing the Moultrie Welcome Center was also the process for me to learn the city.”

Downtown Moultrie Tomorrow, Inc., is developing the welcome center.

“We look forward to having a central space that will give us needed meeting space, restrooms and a space to provide information and history about Moultrie to both visitors and residents,” said Amy Johnson, director of the Downtown Development Authority, which oversees Downtown Moultrie Tomorrow, Inc.

The site, which has been vacant since 2016, has a long retail history.

Prior to Citi Trends, it was Allied Department Store. Prior to that, it was McLellan’s Five & Dime. McLellan’s name remains visible on the sidewalk on front of the store.

As McLellan’s, employees handled payment by using pneumatic tubes, similar to those at bank teller windows. Holly Perryman said her mom Lynda Moseley remembers the process of paying the cashier. Money would go into a container and it would be sent upstairs through the vacuum-operated tubes, recalls Moseley, a long-time tennis coach in Moultrie. An employee upstairs would send change back through the tubes.

Mary Lewis enjoyed working the candy counter and the popcorn machine at McLellan’s in the 1950s. She was working on Christmas Eve the year Elvis Pressley’s “Blue Christmas” came out and “the song was played over and over,” Lewis said.

Fang was selected for the project because of her expertise in reimagining spaces for their function and possibility. The redevelopment, rather than new construction, posed a different kind of design challenge for Fang.

“This project is a building that has undergone many renovations and is relatively complicated in structure. But the traces of this history also give this building a unique life,” she said. “On the second floor there is a special barn door and many structures with a sense of industrial design. How to retain these historical senses while allowing them to serve the new functions is an exciting and challenging part of the renovation project.”

The Archway Partnership is a unit of Public Service and Outreach at UGA. It connects Georgia communities to the full range of higher education resources available at the university to address critical community-identified needs. Colquitt County was where Archway started back in 2005 and is one of 13 communities that Archway has served since then.

“Partnering with the Archway Partnership definitely allows us to explore opportunities we would not have been able to do without Archway’s help,” Johnson said.

For more information about the Colquitt County Archway Partnership, contact Sarah Adams sadams1234@uga.edu or 229-921-3170.