"We're not there yet, but we're coming." Augusta's revitalization plans are underway

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Augusta Housing and Community Development Department is working on a new vision for Augusta by tearing down abandoned buildings and creating new communities.

"We're having conversations every day with interested third-party developers," said Hawthorne Welcher, Jr., Director of the department.
He's hoping those conversations turn into new homes in places of rundown buildings.

"What we're doing is taking a very aggressive approach in looking at various neighborhoods in and around Augusta," he said.

Welcher said the city hears the complaints from neighbors like those along Old Savannah Rd. where two abandoned homes caught fire earlier this week. One side of the street has colorful, new homes. The other looks very different.

"We're talking about desolate and destitution for the last 30, 40, 50 years," he said.

The first step is fixing what he called window roads, Like Wrightsboro, Laney Walker, and Twiggs which see a lot of traffic.

But simply tearing down the buildings is not the goal. The city wants to team up with developers to create brand new communities.

"There's excitement for third-party investors and developers and contractors coming in and wanting to be a part of the actual change that needs to come," Welcher said.

He said the end goal is to go beyond just building more homes and apartment complexes.

"Transition neighborhoods back into thriving communities," he said. "Just doing neighborhoods right now is not enough."

The hope is to build homes that will attract grocery and convenience stores, creating communities where people will want to live.

"What better time to be in Augusta, Georgia?" he said. "We're not there yet, but we're coming."

Welcher called Beacon Station apartment complex a focal point for the city's revitalization project. There's still a long way to go to get rid of the blight and abandoned homes, and neighbors said they're holding on and hoping to see change soon.

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