AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – Big changes are coming to a neighborhood in Augusta. A new revitalization plan takes a look at the Sand Hills community.
“We can redevelop this, you can visualize this as being a home someone can live in today,” said District 1 Commissioner Jordan Johnson.
Major redevelopment is coming in Sand Hills.
“We really have an opportunity to change the aesthetics of the neighborhood and to address housing not only from a market rate perspective, but from an affordable aspect as well, small business development, so forth and so on,” said Commissioner Johnson.
The master revitalization plan has been in talks for almost three years and now district leaders are ready to press play on those ideas.
“The biggest portion here is to make sure that the neighborhood has as much time to weigh in on the plan as possible,” said Commissioner Johnson.
NewsChannel 6 toured parts of the Sand Hills area that district leaders like Commissioner Johnson are looking to address. Blighted homes take up most of the area and there are concerns for the people who have lived in those homes for decades. Some are worried that the plans will raise their property taxes, but commissioner Johnson says gentrification is not the goal.
“We don’t want to price anyone out of a neighborhood, we don’t want to push anyone out of the neighborhood. In fact we’re going to do the opposite, we’re going to make sure that we’re putting in measures that will protect people who’ve been living here by way of property tax freezes, inclusionary zoning. We want to give people as many opportunities to keep them in the neighborhoods as possible,” he said.
One of the target areas for this revitalization plan is this former elementary school. Weed School was built back in the mid to late 1930s, and like a majority of the Sand Hills area has a prominent historical background to it.
“Goes back to the 1861 period through the land purchases from the Flemings and the Montgomery families, however we know that there were African Americans living in that area way before that time,” said local historian Joyce Law.
Sand Hills was formerly known as Elizabethtown a historically black neighborhood around the 1800s.
“Dating back to the 1880’s are entrepreneurs supporting their side of the community, we have the Yorube’s, the Martins, the Smalley’s, the Taylor families who are very well recognized to this day,” said Law.
When the revitalization is complete, the plan is to rename buildings in Sand Hills after some of those more historical names that are recognizable to the community.