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Augusta commissioners Chicago-bound

Thursday, April 11, 2013 7:54 PM
Last updated Friday, April 12, 2013 1:23 AM
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More accolades for Augusta’s Laney-Walker/Bethlehem redevelopment project is sending two city commissioners to Chicago for five days to accept an award.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the American Planning Association recently named the redevelopment initiative as one of two recipients of the HUD Secretary’s “Opportunity and Empowerment Award,” among 18 projects to receive awards at APA’s national planning conference.

Funded through a new hotel-motel tax that was part of an Augusta Commission compromise that allowed development of the Augusta Convention Center to move forward, the $38.5 million effort is expected to provide housing for some 10,000 residents across 1,100 acres and create 38,000 new jobs over 50 years, according to a HUD release.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who has touted the project at several national planning conferences, including the Mayor’s Institute for City Design, said public investment in the project will “break down walls of mistrust” as it helps “define the character of Augusta for the 21st Century.”

Two of Augusta’s historically black communities, Laney-Walker and Bethlehem, have been in an advanced state of blight for many years, despite several efforts to spur redevelopment with local and HUD funds.

Also receiving the HUD Secretary’s award is the Owe’neh Bupingeh Preservation Plan, a redevelopment effort by the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo tribe to rehabilitate the tribe’s village center in New Mexico, including 20 homes and all surrounding infrastructure.

The Augusta initiative has focused on Pine and Florence streets so far, with a few dozen new single-family and duplex craftsman-style residences now available to buyers and renters. Related efforts on Wrightsboro Road and Twiggs Circle are under way.

“The impetus for and success of this project is a direct result of a few brave community leaders who actively engaged all members of the community and insisted that inner-city quality of life issues be addressed,” said Ann C. Bagley, the chairwoman of the APA awards jury.

In Chicago for the five-day conference will be District 1 Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy, the former chairman of the Laney-Walker Neighborhood Association, District 5 Commissioner Bill Lockett and Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler.

The conference packs hundreds of sessions conducted by experts for APA members, planning and elected officials at a cost of $800, not including hotel rooms, according to APA spokseman Denny Johnson. Most participants will stay at the Hyatt Regency, where the convention is being held, he said. The trip will be paid for by the Housing and Community Development department, not from the commission’s travel budget, according to City Clerk Lena Bonner.

The conference “will give them an understanding or perspective that can take them months or years to acquire,” Johnson said, “in a very strategic, big-picture way, and also, if they are struggling to address critical issues, there are literally hundreds of sessions that can address more discrete issues.”

Fennoy, who took office in January, said he was impressed with the redevelopment initiative and the award, as were residents he’d spoken with in the area, but that many issues remain.

“We need to address the dilapidated houses,” he said. “We still need to address the streets that need paving, we need to address the crime in the area and we need to bring a grocery store to the area.”

Lockett, who has clashed with Wheeler over Wheeler’s decision to deactivate the HCD advisory board, said he still wants the board to be revived with new bylaws he had prepared.

“I think it is great it is being viewed throughout the nation as an outstanding project,” Lockett said of the redevelopment initiative. “My only concern is the fact that we appear to be neglecting a good part of the county.”

Comments (19) Add comment
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Ego556
327
Points
Ego556 04/11/13 - 07:24 pm
8
2
Chicago and Augusta...have

Chicago and Augusta...have much in common. poor economy and high crime.

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 04/11/13 - 07:46 pm
8
2
I wish....

They would have sent Marion....and kept him!!

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 04/12/13 - 12:02 am
2
7
Progressive

The Laney Walker/Bethlehem initiative continues to attract national and statewide recognition.

The people who complain about everything can't spin the Harvard Student Journal of Real Estate, New Partners for Smart Growth, Triple Pundit, American Planning Association, American Architectural Foundation, Georgia Trend 'County of Excellence', Southern Living, and Georgia Planning Implementation Award.

I'm glad to see Augusta is finally taking urban living seriously. Forest Hills/Summerville/CBD, Olde Town/Midtown, and the up & coming Harriburg/Laney Walker/Bethlehem/Sand Hills. Plenty of room in East Augusta to extend the riverwalk, create additional recreation/commercial/residential developments to go alongside of the $30 million Walton Oaks.

Let's continue to move this city forward, because their will always be negativity. The FBI crime rate of Augusta is always usually lower compared to Athens, Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, and Columbus. Not to mention there's only 1 homicide so far in the year 2013. Augusta just ranked 2nd in terms of high tech job growth between 2005 and 2011. The economy can't be too bad off if the city managed to beat out the national powerhouses like San Jose, Austin, Raleigh, Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, etc in new high tech jobs.

dichotomy
37437
Points
dichotomy 04/12/13 - 12:00 am
9
2
"provide housing for some

"provide housing for some 10,000 residents across 1,100 acres and create 38,000 new jobs over 50 years"

And Obamacare is going to lower the cost of health insurance, improve the quality of health care, you can keep your insurance, and insure an additional 30 million people with no additional cost.

Go ahead, lie to me. I'm a taxpayer. I'll believe anything. My guess is there are not 38,000 people in Augusta who would take a job if you tried to give them one.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 04/12/13 - 12:15 am
3
3
Real Estate=Location

The Medical District can't really expand, and Laney Walker/Bethlehem are in close proximity. Expect to see new medical related buildings start popping up in surrounding neighborhoods(i.e Laney Walker/Harrisburg).

The Bethlehem/Turpin Hill area is further behind, but Laney Walker will definitely improve quite drastically over the next few years. One private/public mid rise apartment building can get the ball rolling, and bring in tons of young professionals. The future 25 acre commercial development near Kroger(Kroger shopping center demolished/redeveloped), Cook Out restaurant at 1801 Walton Way, etc are the commercial properties you need.

Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 04/12/13 - 12:45 am
2
5
Health care

Last year my Health care cost was $200+; this year less than $100/month.

I don't believe the ACA has been fully implemented yet. Also, you aren't going to find agents complaining as that means bigger commission checks for them.

Maybe instead of cursing the dark now is the time to light a candle___get an agent's license to sell insurance.

Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 04/12/13 - 12:47 am
1
4
Back to the subject

Oh yes.
Mr. Lockett is an excellent choice to attend this meeting. We can be assured that, like a sponge, he will soak up every bite of information he can.

jpbrig
302
Points
jpbrig 04/12/13 - 02:11 am
6
1
Both aginist Convention Center which funds Laney Walker project

Mr Lockett and Mr Fennoy votes aginist the Convention Center, but go claim a prize. Without the Convention Center LaneyWalker project would not have happen. Nothing like a government trip to get out of town for some commissioners. Mr Lockett's expenses need to be audited nothing to good for the taxpayers with he travels.

Riverman1
93598
Points
Riverman1 04/12/13 - 05:39 am
5
2
The Problem

From the article: "The Augusta initiative has focused on Pine and Florence streets so far, with a few dozen new single-family and duplex craftsman-style residences now available to buyers and renters."

There are few takers for the houses, renters or buyers.

Then: "Also receiving the HUD Secretary’s award is the Owe’neh Bupingeh Preservation Plan, a redevelopment effort by the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo tribe to rehabilitate the tribe’s village center in New Mexico, including 20 homes and all surrounding infrastructure."

Indians on a reservation kind of goes along with downtown Augusta. I can see the correlation.

On a positive note, the murder rate in Augusta has dropped dramatically. Something is working well.

seenitB4
97378
Points
seenitB4 04/12/13 - 05:42 am
5
2
Roundtree where art thou

On a positive note, the murder rate in Augusta has dropped dramatically. Something is working well.

I think we can give Rtree credit for that & also the RCSO....thank you ...yesterday I stopped & thanked a Gwinnett county policeman ....just wanted them to know we appreciate the rescue & good outcome of the dangerous hostage situation with the firemen...he had a big smile on his face...I bet they don't hear that a lot.......

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11036
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 04/12/13 - 05:50 am
7
1
Last year my Health care cost was $200+; this year less than $10

I don't know what Kool Aid you're drinking but I'd like to have some, my insurance costs increased by 30% across the board, that includes homeowners and auto!! And that is with a clean MVR and no claims on anything!! Bigger commission checks for Agents- You really believe that? Everyone knows you can't put something that isn't true on the internet!!!!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11036
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 04/12/13 - 05:52 am
5
1
I bet they don't hear that a lot.......

Seenit, you can bet your sweet bippy they don't hear that a lot. Most only hear a thank you from any of the public 3 or 4 times in their career!

justthefacts
25025
Points
justthefacts 04/12/13 - 06:07 am
6
1
Dubius

"Last year my Health care cost was $200+; this year less than $100/month." Not saying it's not, but............

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 04/12/13 - 06:52 am
0
0
great fit
Unpublished

Chicago and Augusta, it is a great fit, politicians without a clue get together to discuss how to be disruptive and spend taxpayers money on
issues that are meaningless to our economy. Augusta deserves the results of their votes and their politicians.

Dudeness
1546
Points
Dudeness 04/12/13 - 07:49 am
7
0
I pay less for health

I pay less for health insurance this year than last, but only because the insurance that I had last year increased to such an unreasonable cost that I chose a different option with a higher deductible.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 04/12/13 - 09:10 am
0
0
chicago
Unpublished

has plenty to teach----and none of it it worth remembering. Are obama's friends bill ayers and jeremiah wright giving the award? Is the award being paid for by jeremiah's daughter?

Red Headed Step Child
4490
Points
Red Headed Step Child 04/12/13 - 10:52 am
3
0
@Truth Matters

Please share what your plan is! I'd LOVE to get on the same ticket!

My out of pocket expense for insuring my family - just insuring them, mind you - was $1,404 for dental insurance and $2,784 for health insurance. Add to that my deductible is $3000..I could have gone for a lower deductible, but my premiums would have gone up another $300 a month..

That's AFTER my employer (thankfully) pays their part...

I'm sure it's less for a single person..

Little Lamb
48998
Points
Little Lamb 04/12/13 - 09:15 am
3
1
Against?

jpbrig claimed that Comm. Fennoy voted against the TEE Center. That's odd. Fennoy was sworn in as commissioner in January, wasn't he? The convention center was already built.

Now maybe jpbrig is talking about the vote this year about whether to spend a million dollars to build a fancy enclosed pedestrian bridge to connect the Marriott parking deck to the TEE Center. Fennoy voted no on that, and I, for one, am so glad he did.

We don't need no stinkin’ pedestrian bridge over Reynolds Street.

nocnoc
49129
Points
nocnoc 04/12/13 - 09:20 am
3
2
...create 38,000 new jobs over 50 years

works out to 760 jobs a year out of 10,000 residents over 50 years.
Which about the number we have now in some projects.

Questions:
How many will be Law Enforcement vs. actual private sector
commercial type jobs employing more that 5 people with a business License?

OH! And NO including Criminally operated businesses,as the FED tried to sneak in one time to boost the numbers.

Want to fix the Housing problem?
1. Limit how long a person/family gets to stay continuously in Public housing IF they are able to work or perform a form of
Work-Fare.

2. Limit occupancy to only those on the rental application and charge all other with abuse or theft of Government services.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 04/12/13 - 10:40 am
2
3
Same thing different day

The usual responses from the same people in terms of anything related to Augusta.

The over $3 million added to the local tax base, because of the Laney Walker/Bethlehem development can't be denied.

Little Lamb
48998
Points
Little Lamb 04/12/13 - 03:19 pm
0
0
Chicago Bound

The title of the story reminded me of an old Delmore Brothers song entitled Alabama Bound. Here are the first two verses:

I’m Alabammy bound; Alabammy bound.
I’ve got a mule to ride if the train breaks down.

If my mule he balk; if my mule he balk –
Oh, well I’m goin’ to Alabammy if I have to walk.

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