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View Gallery Laney Walker/Bethlehem

The Laney Walker/Bethlehem project is resulting in two historic neighborhoods coming together to regenerate an important part of Augusta's urban core - a transformation few people ever imagined.

The revitalization of Laney Walker/Bethlehem got its start in 2008, when the Augusta Commission passed legislation that established funding strategies for community development in Laney Walker/Bethlehem. The goal is to turn around decades of blight and disinvestment and regenerate nearly 1,100 acres of Augusta's urban center. Funds are currently being used for building new homes and renovating current homes, planning, land banking and property acquisition. Since passage of the resolution, the Augusta Housing & Community Development Department has developed an overall master plan for the area, a pattern book to guide development, a financial incentives program and a marketing plan to promote the overall effort. The selection of pre-qualified vendors (developers, builders, architects, engineers) to focus on catalytic construction rounds out a broad set of resources devoted to this revitalization effort.

This large-scale development has been the beneficiary of many awards including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) award.

Much hard work has occurred leading to new and renovated housing stock in Heritage Pine (the inaugural development), Holley Street Commons and Twiggs Circle. The next area of development, The Foundry Place, is expected to break ground in mid-2016.

In 2014, an extensive review was completed to plan the development of a Heritage Trail to wind through the two neighborhoods that could showcase historic sites for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The trail would become part of the entire multi-million dollar revitalization of the area. Part of the goal is for tourists and locals to gain knowledge of the prominent and lesser known black businesses and leaders who shaped the neighborhoods decades ago and might be forgotten today.

The newest endeavor in this area is the 15th Street Redevelopment project. This is a 30-acre mixed-use and master planned community to be developed by Walton Communities, LLC to replace Cherry Tree Crossing on 15th Street. Demolition of Cherry Tree Crossing was completed in 2014 and it is expected that ground will be broken on this new 15th Street Redevelopment project in the fall of 2016.

MARKET CREATION PROJECT: DYESS PARK CANAL VILLAGE
The Big Idea: Capitalize on the new Judicial Center to create housing and commercial space around Dyess Park.
Cost: $50 million private funds, $17 million public funds (in 2009 dollars).
Time: 5 to 10 years
Details: As part of the Laney Walker neighborhood, this area centers on Walton Way, 9th Street, Dyess Park and the Third Level of the Augusta Canal. The area has the potential to grow into the Greene and Telfair residential neighborhoods and into downtown.

Residential development around Dyess Park and the Third Level of the Augusta Canal will create a high-quality affordable neighborhood of renovated and new housing. The project would also capitalize on the presence of the recently built Judicial Center and Courthouse to create a new neighborhood commercial center.
Progress: In May 2016, a comprehensive Augusta Recreation Master Plan was released that included this and 60-plus other parks and recreation facilities across Richmond County.

Dyess Park Phase 1 renovations were started in September 2012 and completed in early 2013. A 6-phase renovation plan for the Park was outlined by the City of Augusta in April 2013, but no set starting date was presented as development depends on city finances.
The Foundry Place
Details: Work has been ongoing for this next area of Laney Walker/Bethlehem development. A proposed 221-unit mixed use developmental project costing an estimated $26 million is being proposed. Pre-development activities started in 2016.
HERITAGE PINE SUBDIVISION
The Big Idea: This is the first revitalization area in the Laney Walker/Bethlehem Neighborhood
Time: 4 years
Details: During 2010, the City of Augusta made great strides in redevelopment of the historic Laney Walker and Bethlehem communities. The many groundbreakings, purchase of dilapidated homes for renovation or razing, and a unified vision for the entire area led to massive changes in this neighborhood district.

In March 2011, the first home sale took place in Heritage Pine, the City's flagship development in the overall revitalization of Laney Walker/Bethlehem. As Housing Director Chester Wheeler stated, this is "a giant leap for the re-positioning of Augusta as a model city."

In September 2011, The Laney Walker/Bethlehem Redevelopment Initiative caught the eye of Harvard University's School of Design, which author William Sankey, in its Student Journal on Real Estate, pronounced that the City's "one-of-a-kind" role as master developer could be a potentially "game-changing" national model for public-private partnerships.

The end of 2011 saw about 50% of Heritage Pine built out. Heritage Pine is the first of six key priority development areas for Laney Walker/Bethlehem. Approximately $3.3 million has been added to the city's tax base and 44 jobs have been generated from the Heritage pine development alone.


Visit the Heritage Pine website to see the future of Laney Walker/Bethlehem at www.heritagepineaugusta.com.
Progress: By 2014, most of the houses in Heritage Pine have been sold.
JUDICIAL CENTER & COURTHOUSE
The Big Idea: As a development node, the Judicial Center and the Courthouse were anticipated to jump start development in this area of Augusta.
Cost: $67 million
Time: 3 years
Details: The $67 million Augusta Judicial Center and John H. Ruffin, Jr. Courthouse groundbreaking was on 12/15/2008. The highly anticipated ribbon cutting of this magnificent building located on the corner of Walton Way and James Brown Blvd. took place on Monday, 5/3/2011.

The statue of Lady Justice (with a balance in one hand and a sword in the other), which spent most of 2010 being refurbished in Maryland, is placed at the front entryway.
Progress: Project completed.
Legacy at Walton Green - 15TH STREET REDEVELOPMENT
The Big Idea: Redevelop the 30-acre site area formerly known as Cherry Tree Crossing into a mixed-use and master planned community.
Time: Groundbreaking November 18, 2016. Completion in 2020.
Details: This 30-acre site is bounded by 15th and Poplar Streets, Lee Beard Way and Swanee Quintet Boulevard.

The plan is to complete four phases of residential development by late 2020 with a total of 410 units.
Walton Communities is partnering with the Augusta Housing Authority to totally develop the 30 acres on 15th Street that was the old Cherry Tree Crossing (and before that Sunset Homes) low income housing apartment complex into beautiful mixed-income housing. The first building to be completed will be 80 units for seniors 55 years of age and older. Those apartments will start leasing in 2017. The second group of apartments will be 250 units for families. A third phase will be 80 more units for seniors. 15% of the apartments will be public housing.

Walton Communities, LLC, that redeveloped the site of the former Underwood Homes project off Sandbar Ferry Road, is the co-developer in conjunction with the Augusta Housing Authority.

Progress: Demolition of the old Cherry Tree Crossing public housing project was completed in mid-2014.

Phase I of the development secured tax credits in 2015.

Phase II tax credit application will be submitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in 2016 for development of family units.

Groundbreaking took place on 11/17/2016. The first section, for senior citizens, in line to be completed in 2017.
TWIGGS CIRCLE
The Big Idea: Upgrade this blighted area of Laney Walker/Bethlehem with new housing for senior citizens and families.
Time: Groundbreaking for this project took place on 8/27/2014. Homes have been completed.
Details: This redevelopment project includes new housing, rehabilitated historic homes and improvements to the street and sidewalk infrastructure.

The launch of Phase I of Twiggs Circle in April 2015, saw the unveiling of two completed homes. Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Laney Walker Development Corporation and Builders of Hope, a nonprofit community development agency based in Raleigh, North Carolina, 21 single family homes will be built. As of November 2015, five homes have been built and the next five began construction in March/April 2016.

In October 2015, the Augusta Housing Authority began construction of 16 duplexes and 8 two-bedroom homes on Wrightsboro Road for residents ages 55 and older. This $4.6 million project will be called Powell Pointe.

To improve traffic flow, the City of Augusta is planning to build a roundabout on Twiggs Street at James Brown Blvd.

New sidewalks, lighting, curbs and gutters, water and sewer line improvements are also currently being worked on.