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$1 million investment to bring life to Augusta’s oldest neighborhoods

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:36 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Bringing new life to Augusta’s oldest neighborhoods, a new hub in Harrisburg is just the beginning.

There’s also a nearly $1 million investment city leaders say they hope turns into so much more.

We told you last week about how the Hub for Community Innovation was just phase one of this project.

The bigger goal is to help revitalize some of our oldest communities like the Laney Walker, Harrisburg and Bethlehem communities. Just in the last two days, the city was awarded money to get going on that to help the people in this area.

Marguerite Barnes, 86, has been here for some time now.

“Since 2001,” she said.

Two decades of silence – until now. From her front porch, she hears the sounds and sees workers making headway on the Hub for Community Innovation.

“I’ll just be glad when it’s done because of all the noise,” she said.

Her neighbors agree – but they all say the change is needed in the area.

“Oh, it’s great. For the young people to come up and to be able to live longer,” said Barnes.

The Hub is just phase one for the Harrisburg, Laney Walker and Bethlehem communities. Augusta will get almost half a million dollars from a housing and urban development grant. That money is being matched by community partners – bringing the total to nearly $1 million. It’s all to make room for affordable housing.

“We’ve been seeing disinvestment for years and years and years, so it’s critically important,” said Ian Mercier, president and CEO of the Medical College of Georgia Foundation.

The bigger goal is to get even more funding and investment for these communities.

“You can see $350 to $400 million of both private and public support in this community and in Harrisburg and Laney Walker and when you start talking about dollars like that that’s when real transformational opportunities occur,” he said.

They want the residents of these communities to steer the conversation. They decide what people need most.

“The next step is pulling the residents in and saying this is already started but this is really for you so let’s start working on the next phases together,” he said.

Speaking of next steps, MCG Foundation plans on having some open houses and public meetings on this topic coming up. We’ll keep you updated when we learn more about those.

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