Vestavia Hills Living


Official magazine published by the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce for the City of Vestavia Hills which details the quality of life, education, shopping and lifestyle of Vestavia Hills.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 150

Heights, Liberty Park, the Cahaba River Road area and Altadena. Another part of the vision involves examining the gateways to the city "and making sure the impression is one we can be proud of," Downes says. E X P E R I E N C I N G E A R L Y S U C C E S S E S After just one year in office, Downes is proud that the improvements are already in progress in every community in Vestavia Hills. "There is something going on in every area of the city," he says. Those projects include the new City Hall under construc- tion, improvements being made to the Interstat ay 31 interchange, and the city's new master development plan with Daniel Corporation to develop portions of the Patchwork Farms area. These projects are underway as well as some redevelopment of existing shopping areas in Cahaba Heights as well as the Rocky Ridge business district. Downes has been able to hit the ground running on economic development and improvement initiatives because he focuses on building relationships and partnering with others to make things happen. "The world of economic development is all about relationships," Downes says. "And by staying in Alabama, I'm able to maintain my relationships with decision makers in Montgomery and make a difference for Vestavia Hills." As a self-described "collaborator," Downes specializes in looking for teams to work together to accomplish goals. That approach has been well received in Vestavia Hills, he says, where residents have a long history of getting involved, working together and making a difference. That attitude of collaboration is an important part of what makes the city a place that people love to call home. "As a newcomer, I've already fallen in love with the city of Vestavia Hills as a great place to live," Downes says. "We want to continue guiding the city's growth in ways that will be sustainable and will encourage that emotional attachment." However, after spending his entire career working in Montgomery city government, with the past 10 years focused on economic development projects, Downes was an ideal fit for leading Vestavia Hills into the future. "Moving my family was a scary venture, but I had great confidence beyond just my job tasks because I knew I was moving my family to a community where family values are strong, there's a great school system and good programs for my special needs child," Downes says. "All the positive things about the Vestavia Hills community gave me the confidence to move my family here." Over the past year, Downes' family has quickly settled into life in Vestavia Hills' Liberty Park community, and Downes has become a familiar face to many local residents (including those who have mistaken him for his identical twin brother, who used to live in the area). With Downes at the helm, the city of Vestavia Hills has already made great strides. The new City Hall is taking shape on Highway 31, other projects are underway, and perhaps most exciting, the atmosphere of the community is expectant, engaged and prepared for great things. P R E S E R V I N G A C O M M U N I T Y , B U I L D I N G A F U T U R E When Downes arrived in Vestavia Hills, the City Council made it clear that his "#1 mission is to look at the long-term viability of our city," he says. "That starts with economic sustainability and making sure our revenues can match our needs." But with 10 years of economic development work under his belt, Downes knows that building a sustainable local economy doesn't happen without comprehensive planning. So his first job has been to develop a vision for Vestavia Hills' future — and he's begun that by developing an understanding of the people who live here. "There are certain quality of life items this community wants from its government, and it goes beyond fighting fires and providing police protection," Downes says. "People here have great emotional attachment to their city — the way it looks, the way it feels, the way residents work together. To pre- serve that quality of place, we have to plan ahead; we can't just let things happen in an ad hoc manner. That quality community will grow and be sustained because a vision is established and there is a day-to-day effort to accomplish that vision." For instance, part of that vision includes looking for ways for the entire city of Vestavia Hills to grow, not just the Highway 31 corridor, Downes says. He also wants to determine how to infuse growth and quality into Cahaba So his first job has been to develop a vision for Vestavia Hills' future — and he's begun that by developing an understanding of the people who live here. 2 0 1 4 v e s tav i a h i l l s l i v i n g 21

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Vestavia Hills Living - 2014