News 12 First at Five, April 29, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The city of Augusta hopes to make good on plans to revitalize it's historic neighborhoods. This will come with the help of that $1 dollar hotel-motel tax we've been telling you about.
City leaders are coming to the table to break bread and new ground on ways to develop the historic Laney Walker and Bethlehem district.
"The prospect of just knowing that this community is up and coming is beyond imagination really," said Karen Daughtry.
She has lived in the area all her life. She's seen a lot change.
"We've seen the neighborhood go from what used to be a wonderful neighborhood to the point that it is in now which is in a deteriorated state," said Karen.
It looks as if the winds of change are blowing again. "Change in a managed way...change that is going to take advantage of a development opportunity without infringing on a heritage and history that is longstanding," said Jessie Wyle.
He is president of an Atlanta consulting firm that was brought on to bring in housing. There's good and bad news about the area he says. The bad news..."It has a significant amount of vacant and abandoned housing."
But the good news..."In many parts of Laney Walker and Bethlehem it's a unique architectural style which serves as a great canvas if you will to work on."
And the work has begun. He's calling for single family homes geared at first time home owners and business people looking to be close to downtown. As for Karen and others like her..."We're here...hands feet everything...all of our hearts and minds...all of the expertise that we can bring...we want to make sure that this turns out to be exactly what it's expected to be and even more."
That tax is expected to generate $750,000 a year for the area.