Augusta's HCD looking at possible $2.5 million loan for redevelopment

By: Ryan Houston Email
By: Ryan Houston Email


News12 at six o'clock/ March 13, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta's Housing and Community Development still needs a $2.5 million to continue redeveloping the Laney-Walker Bethlehem area.

They've spent $8 million so far in a three year span.

An outside review committee is recommending the commission keep the project going and give them the loan.

Some Commissioners want private companies to step up. City officials said when they build it in the Laney Walker area people come. Two of the three houses under construction there have already been sold.

"We haven't had any sit there for a long length of time," said Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler.

Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler said his department has bought more than 270 lots, fixed 95 dilapidated properties, built 24 homes and sold 22 more. All of that costs around $8 million.

The momentum stopped after Augusta commissioners refused to loan the department 2.5 million and called for a second set of eyes to look at his re-development.

The group of planners calls the overall program an achievement. They recommend the city loan the department $2.5 million dollars, invest money from the city's budget and find others ways to pay for the full project.

"We want to complete that project and continue it on and build up Laney Walker. We've got to address the issue of funds. Now it's whether or not we will give a 2.5 bridge loan," said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

More than $40,000 a month was going out the door for consultant fees, but Wheeler said that's not the case anymore.

"I haven't hired anybody, but I reduced my consultant fee by more than $100,000 in the contract signed in January," Wheeler said.

"The city can't do it on our own. We do not have the funds to do it on our own. We don't have the man power or the staff to do it," Mason said.

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