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Andalusia spends nearly $2M to reconfigure major parts of downtown

Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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ANDALUSIA Ala. (WSFA) - Eighteen buildings along and around Andalusia’s town square sit mostly empty, devoid of life. But a major change could be in the works to fix that.

Tuesday, Emma Locke liked what she heard at City Hall. The city voted to buy the properties.

“I like to see our city grow, and maybe our kids will stay home. We got something for them to look forward to,” said the retired school teacher. “I think it’s great.”

Mayor Earl Johnson made no apologies for spending $1.7 million of taxpayer money to make it happen.

The City of Andalusia is spending $1.7 million to buy 18 properties as part of a major downtown...
The City of Andalusia is spending $1.7 million to buy 18 properties as part of a major downtown renovation plan.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

“And we had reached a point in our downtown that we were blocked, we couldn’t go any further," he explained. “So, this was either take that step or just sit here and let those beautiful old buildings - some of these buildings are some of the most historic buildings in Andalusia,” he said.

The grand plan is to market the properties with the vision of loft apartments and retail.

“Bring in a mix of retail, business professional office buildings and that kind of stuff,” said the mayor.

And there’s more; city leaders say they plan to turn one piece of vacant property into a 6-acre park.

"You know, envisioning this as a public park with a public place to gather beautiful water features and bikeable paths,” explained Andalusia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chrissie Duffy.

Developers are already reaching out. Some work could begin as early as three months to get a major part of downtown back on track to vibrancy. Johnson says negotiations started last August with the single property owner and concluded in early January.

Andalusia city leaders tell WSFA 12 News this is the largest transaction of this type in recent memory.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.