The first phase of remodeling spans about 400 feet from Lemon Street to City Hall and cost about $725,000 — funded mostly with federal stimulus money along with a $150,000 match from the city. Construction, which began in April 2010 and was completed in June 2012, includes a widened street, modern fencing and stamped concrete designs on the road.
Scheduled for completion in late October, the city broke ground on the second phase of the Senator Russell Avenue project in April. The renovation will stretch about 500 feet from City Hall to Morningside Drive and will include all of the aforementioned street improvements as well as a public mezzanine and 25 additional parking spaces.
The approximate cost of the second portion of the project is $620,000 and is being paid for using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars passed in 2005. Acworth collected $13 million from the 2005 SPLOST, which spanned from January 2006 to December 2011.
Allegood said it’s all part of a grand vision for the city that was initiated over a decade ago and will take another 10 years to come to fruition.
“In the last 13 years, we’ve spent about $35 million in SPLOST projects all over our downtown area,” Allegood said.
The second phase will essentially mirror the first, Allegood said. Businesses on that portion of Main Street back up to Senator Russell Avenue and will soon have manicured rear entrances, including fencing to block the view of garbage bins and air-conditioning units from the street.
These businesses will also be able to take advantage of a second entryway for their customers. Fusco’s Via Roma, an Italian restaurant on the first phase of redevelopment, converted its new entrance into a dining patio.
Allegood said the additional parking is part of a plan to bring more visitors downtown. Since 2006 the city has added 500 parking spots, including spots off Main Street, next to the Acworth Library and City Hall.
“We knew that if we were going to have the kind of place that people wanted to come to, we darn sure better have a place for them to park,” Allegood said.
“We began investment in our downtown with our Main Street widening project in 2000,” Allegood said. “It’s through all of those different investments and commitment to our downtown that’s created this really unique, vibrant downtown.”
Reaching beyond Main Street
The city has several other projects underway in the coming months and years, including a $550,000 renovation of North Main Street from Highway 92 to The Enclave subdivision, which spans about half a mile; and a $2.3 million renovation of School Street, which should be completed by the end of the month.
“Everything is being totally redeveloped; it’s just a renaissance,” Allegood said.
On North Main, the street will be repaved and have sidewalks and streetlights added. Bulthuis said bids for the contract work were opened last week and the project should begin within the next two months and take about nine months to complete.
“We want to extend downtown in keeping with the way we’ve redeveloped almost every neighborhood in our city,” Allegood said.
Creating a blank canvas
The city worked with the Marietta Housing Authority over the last couple of years to obtain Section 8 housing vouchers for 60 families in old public housing apartments on School Street, Moon Street, Carruth Street and Winn Street. The apartment homes were demolished, creating a blank canvas for the downtown expansion.
Allegood said his vision for the area includes mixed-use developments with a balance between residential and commercial.
“We had the ability to redevelop and kind of reinvent our downtown better than anybody else,” Allegood said of the move. “Once we earmarked public housing through our partnership with Marietta, we had the ability… to move (those families) to a better place.”
The School Street project should be completed by the end of the month with the installation of brick paving, concrete stamping on the street and the addition of handrails.
Moving forward, City Manager Brian Bulthuis told the aldermen the city will begin widening nearby Taylor Street for a cost of about $900,000 and Southside Drive for approximately $1 million. Construction for these 2011 SPLOST-funded projects is expected to begin next spring and projected to take a year to complete.
“The bottom line is, we have a lot of projects coming up,” Bulthuis told the aldermen.
Allegood said the commitment of city leaders was key to the success of such a long-term citywide renovation.
“When it all gets finished, and it will probably take another 10 years, it will probably be one of the most successful redevelopment projects of any city in the state because it’s gone so smoothly,” Allegood said.