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Lilburn to Transform Old Town Building with Mural

The Lilburn City Council has commissioned a local artist to paint a mural on the Cofer Electric building in Old Town.

From a City of Lilburn press release

The Lilburn City Council has commissioned a local artist to paint a mural on the Cofer Electric building at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Main Street in Old Town.

At Monday’s regular meeting, the Council approved the painting and design of a startlingly life-like bridge scene.

“I think it is important to develop artwork that generates interest in our city. As we place artwork throughout our city, all of this begins to come together to change the image of Lilburn,” Mayor Johnny Crist said.

Work on the Cofer mural could begin as early as January, local artist Sonny Franks said. A full-sized rendering of the mural will be projected onto the building during the Lilburn Christmas Parade at 10 a.m. Dec. 1.

“It isn’t just a mural,” said Franks, who is part of a group of artists that travels the country painting murals. “This is really the beginning of something a lot bigger.”

Franks and Crist are working to form an art association in Lilburn that will commission works of public art, support local artists of all kinds, and create studio space in Old Town.

The $10,000 maximum cost of the mural is funded through the city’s Public Art Fund; businesses constructing a building valued at more than $750,000 contribute to the fund in lieu of placing a work of art in their commercial development.

Those interested in participating in a city art association may contact Sonny Franks, signcreations@comcast.net, 770-923-9933.

— Nikki Young

Cy Sineath November 14, 2012 at 03:03 PM
A giant step in making Lilburn a neat little shopping destination.
Alan Harp November 14, 2012 at 04:59 PM
How does it spur growth? In the same way that the Blue Rooster did during its time. Word of mouth. In the same way the Christmas parade, Music on Main, 4th of July fireworks, etc do. People learn about something interesting to see/do and gravitate towards it. The Greenway, the city park, farmer's market, Lilburn daze and the aforementioned things are not visible from the main corridor, but because they are of interest, people come and enjoy them. This will be a wonderful addition to help build interest. See what Colquitt, GA did with murals for some reference.
Rethinknow November 14, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Where did the first $10,000 come from? If anyone truly thinks this will spur growth you are not thinking clearly. Remember, (essentially) the same people who have been guiding Lilburn for the past 20 years are the same people who made this decision. They don't have a very good track record. Good news! At least the person doing the work is local. Which means the city manager either doesn't know an artist or he didn't take part in the decision.
Bonnie November 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Speaking of the Blue Rooster - what a huge loss that has been. I wish I'd gone there more often - would love to go again. The mural is beautiful - I'm looking forward to seeing it completed.
Bonnie November 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I don't understand. I know that Lilburn has a new mayor.
Rethinknow November 14, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Bonnie here is what I refer to; There are basic types of leadership that guide the direction of a community. 1) elected (mayor & council) 2) appointed (committees, commissions etc) 3) assumed (influential people who volunteer, perhaps own a business etc) 4) hired (city staff) and by the way the city business is the job of the City Manager. Johnny Crist (New Mayor) has been in the category of, assumed, and elected (city council and now mayor) for a number of years. The others that I refer to are council, one of which was a mayor some years past, the Downtown Development Authority and several who have been in the committees and or held appointed positions. Many of these people have switched from one spot to another over several years. All of these positions have influence on the direction the community takes. And if you look business growth (particularly in the downtown area) it is really non existent. Ldaze has been going on for 35 + yrs, Parade for a decade +, Music on Main is no more... Blue Rooster has been gone for 2 years. There is NOTHING to "spur growth" in downtown Lilburn. Perhaps at a later time I will provide reasons why. But for now just consider the people in the above examples and think about it. And if you want to see how effective this group of leaders is, ask about the Sports Park. Look on the DDA website. Look at the list of new business license each month. In closing, FIX the trash on 29 first!
Bonnie November 14, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I see what you mean. Thanks for the information - nice of you to take the time to write all that. I appreciate it.
Melissa November 14, 2012 at 09:40 PM
My grandpa started Cofer Electric as a committed entrepreneur, well before I was born, and has made much provision to his children, his grandchildren, and even to his great grandchildren by all of his hard efforts through the years. Now, the building that housed the electrical company's materials, will be immortalized by immaculate art, just as my grandpa was and is immortalized by his labors, though he passed several years ago. I recall the perfectly organized rows of giant spools of cable and the odd, yet not unpleasant smell of the materials in that building, as though it was yesterday. Hats off to my grandmother (Mamaw) as well, who played as much a role as Papaw in keeping the company going with her bookkeeping, receptionist skills, patience, smarts, and humble tolerance. I love them both more than they will ever know. To me, this is an honor that I wish my grandpa could had seen done while he was still with us.
Rethinknow November 14, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Melissa Please don’t misunderstand my comments. I have the highest respect for the achievers in our society. And to your family I offer congratulations on such a role model in all of your lives. It is simply my doubt as to where the $10,000 dollars is coming from. The Mayor leaves the impression it is not coming from “public” funds. I question that. Why? Because I have heard him “manipulate” truth and once a person who is in a position of trust does, they deserve their authority to be open to question.
Rethinknow November 14, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Melissa Please don’t misunderstand my comments. I have the highest respect for the achievers in our society. And to your family I offer congratulations on such a role model in all of your lives. It’s simply my doubt as to where the $10,000 dollars is coming from. The Mayor leaves the impression it is not coming from “public” funds. I question that. Why? Because I have heard him “manipulate” truth and once a person who is in a position of trust does, they deserve their authority to be open to question.
Sonny Franks November 14, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I'd like to address some of the above comments. As Alan Harp suggested, the mural will create interest and advertise Lilburn, although there's no way to quantify the financial benefits. I am a member of the Walldogs, a worldwide group of muralists who gather in a different town each summer and transform it with a lasting art legacy. www.thewalldogs.com If you asked the mayors of these towns what value has been added by murals, they would respond with a resounding positive appraisal. The cost of the mural is being paid by a fund established without taxpayer money for this purpose almost 20 years ago, and to date has not produced any public art, to my knowledge. Additionally, we will be soliciting private and commercial sponsorships to help implement our public art initiative. We are also in the preliminary stages of establishing the Lilburn Art Alliance, harnessing the immense talents of local Lilburn artists. We're meeting tonight (Wednesday) at 107 Main St., the former Blue Rooster, and invite any interested parties to join us at 7pm. Regarding the track record of our city leadership, I believe we are in a renaissance period with the election of our mayor, Johnny Crist - a man with vision, a keen sense of aesthetics and boundless energy. The city manager, Bill Johnsa, and the capable municipal staff are poised to take us to the next level. Look for lots of new ideas to take root here - this is not the Lilburn of years past. Let's roll.....
Sonny Franks November 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Rethinknow: I don't know what your cryptic comment about truth manipulation was referencing, but maybe you should do a little research before leveling accusations. And as far as the "same old people" in place for years, why don't YOU offer to sit on some boards - I'm certain Scott Batterton would be more than happy to relinquish his Stormwater Board chair to you. These people work tirelessly for the citizens of Lilburn and they deserve not only our thanks, but our respect.....
John Henderson November 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Spur Growth ???? Hw long has the old Blue Rooster been empty? How many concepts have given up on the location with Lilburn dragging its feet? Why did the city run the coffee shop off during construction? The city has no....zero interest in the success of the Main Street merchants.
Patricia Sabin November 15, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I am hardly qualified to comment on the city council or the mayor, since I live in the Mountain Park area, outside city limits, but I love Lilburn. Half my Facebook pictures are of the Lilburn area. I know budgets are tight, but I'm glad the city makes room for art, and music, and natural beauty.
Debra Houston November 15, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I don't understand why Lilburn is burning Christmas lights and decorations before Thanksgiving. Who is paying the city's electric bill?
Joan Clipp November 15, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I am a local artist, looking forward to this, but wish I'd heard about the Lilburn Art Alliance earlier! Hope there was a good turnout, I was a member of a Newnan art group and it did much for the community, Lilburn needs that.
John Henderson November 15, 2012 at 02:57 PM
When is the last time you stopped in a shop on Main Street and bought something? Can you name any Merchants besides the Antique Store?
John Henderson November 15, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Maybe it's coming from some of the 250k the city allocated for a study on building a baseball park in the city?
John Henderson November 15, 2012 at 03:01 PM
You are paying the bill with your county tax allocations to fund the city operations.
Debra Houston November 15, 2012 at 07:08 PM
County? . . . Hmmm. I am paying for Lilburn to light up decorations for Christmas before Thanksgiving arrives. Very interesting.
Debra Houston November 15, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Furthermore, are the other Gwinnett municipalities already lit up for Christmas? This is getting more expensive as I think about it.
Rethinknow November 15, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Mr. Franks, Mr. Henderson & Mr. Harp make a pretty compelling argument. I can give a pretty lengthy list to substantiate the city’s less than robust outreach for business success in Lilburn. I’ll start with just two.But, I’ll be happy to provide more examples if you would like. Psst, it gets better as the list goes on folks. But first think about this, how many entities in Lilburn do you think could produce and maintain the City of Lilburn website? How many entities within 30047 (population 35,000)? How many entities within Gwinnett County (population close to 1,000,000)? How many entities within the State of Georgia (population close to 10,000,000? Ask where the city has their (guaranteed to put you to sleep) website created and maintained http://www.cityoflilburn.com/ Ask where the Downtown Development Authority has their (incredibly out of date) website created and maintained. http://www.lilburndda.govoffice2.com/ By the way here is a portion of the DDA mission statement “to serve as advocates and advisors to the Mayor and Council on issues related to economic growth and development in Old Town Lilburn and the Highway 29 Corridor. “
Scott Mecredy November 15, 2012 at 07:24 PM
To understand the funding of city projects from a better perspective than your desk, I suggest you attend the city council meetings or simply ask a council member. There are funds, directed by law, to be spent on art. As a business owner (in Old Town), and an artist, I certainly appreciate the effort to create artistic landmarks, and develop points of interest that will, as a minimum, draw attention to our area, and potentially draw citizens to visit our parks and local businesses. On the "Good News" front - the person doing the work is a concerned citizen, and local business man working to improve our city. Since your comments are anonymous, I have to assume that the only work you do for the city is posting this kind of uninformed vigilante watch dog garbage.
Scott Mecredy November 15, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I agree. As the owner of a Main Street business, and a participant in the effort to revitalize this historic district, I believe that artistic style, and creative events are a good beginning. We need viable businesses, and to attract them, we need an interesting marketplace.
Rethinknow November 15, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Mr. Franks in terms of me raising my hand to contribute. Ahh, volunteering. That would be where citizens DONATE their TIME and TALENT for the betterment of the community. What a concept. Wikipedia has a very good explanation of volunteering. Let me use a portion here to illustrate what a wonderful suggestion from you, Mr. Franks. “Volunteering, in the sense of carrying out tasks or providing services for individuals or community organisations WITHOUT financial recompense...” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteering I think we ALL should give it a go. (Sonny, if I may? You need to ask the city mgr who I am, that might answer your suggestion as to my “Volunteering”... and if you wonder why I suggest you ask the city mgr, it’s because he boasts on how he will find out ALL of those using pseudonym that comment on the Patch. Aren't you happy to hear what some of the city manager's time is spent on?) Or you could ask Councilman Batterton to whom you refer. You know, the one who has been one of the community leaders that has GUIDED Lilburn to where it is TODAY. Councilman Batterton has served in many capacities (including mayor) for years and years and years and years and...
Rethinknow November 15, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Scott since everyone else is using a recognizable name I assume your talking to me. "Watch Dog Garbage"? My... I can assure you my resume has far, far, far more community commitments than many. I can also assure you everything I say and every accusation I make has very solid ground to support it. You simply have not been around long enough to witness it. Or you choose to ignore because you have a vested interest, your business. What you are not seeing is, so do I. I live here. I have lived here long enough to witness... VERY FIRST HAND... these leaders that have been jumping from one leadership position to another (some call that the Good Old Boys/Gals) I refer to. I have heard their plans to make Lilburn successful FOR YEARS!!! Is it? Would you let them manage your money? And by the way I sincerely wish you success... and unknown to you I have helped you... we will let it go at that.
Scott Mecredy November 15, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I was talking to you - and I assumed that you were probably a friend since I've made so many while settling into Lilburn. I hope we stay friends, and if you choose to talk to me about this subject in person, I'll respect your decision to stay anonymous in this forum. Since you are speaking anonymously, you obviously don't take this conversation personally - and I get it. My harsh reaction to your comment is solely based on the fact that I believe we need to be supportive of proactive energy. There's a lot of history here in Lilburn and many of us were not a part of that, but we are all a part of the future. If you do know me, then you know positivity is my thing. I appreciate that someone's gotta call it like they see it too, and ultimately we're all on the same side here.
susan silver November 19, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Hi there, neighbor! I am so proud to know someone who is going to do something like this for Lilburn. Art is great wherever it is. I like the way you spoke up to this guy! Norman and I can't wait to see your mural!!!! Susan Silver sent this! You go!!!
LilburnGal29 December 03, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I know this is far yet not so far off-topic, but the Blue Rooster wasn't exactly what it claimed to be as far as homemade food went. The only homemade item on their menu was the chicken salad which was what they were known for, and for good reason. Unfortunately, however, their baked goods were nothing of the sort. Frozen blocks of cookie dough, frozen discs of cake, LOTS of Duncan Hines cake mix boxes, and 5 gallon buckets of soybean oil frosting. Granted, they made the stuff look and taste good but it was hardly scratch-made. It's a shame that several people, including myself, have inquired about the space with no real enthusiasm on the DDA's part. I don't know what they are waiting for. I would hate to see that space go to waste. To me, this is why the city shouldn't get involved in real estate in this manner-- too tempting to bring out the red tape. Several people want to start a business-- in Lilburn!-- and the city has yet to approve a single one. Really?! Again, no disrespect to the atmosphere and positive memories left behind by the Blue Rooster, but almost anything food-quality-wise would be a step up from what was served there.
Pat Gabilondo January 03, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Revitalizing a community, like creating a work of art, is seldom achieved with only one brush stroke. It takes layer upon layer of small steps in the same strategic direction to achieve the desired result, so kudos to Mayor Crist for having the vision and the perserverance to take one of those steps. Of course, any mural by itself won't solve all the problems of Main Street, but it's something tangible and visible that shows movement in the upgrade direction.

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