Tallassee business owners 'excited' about downtown revamping project

Tallassee business owners 'excited' about downtown revamping project
The $520,000 grant is part of the Transportation Alternatives Set-aside Program and will be used for the city's Downtown Square Streetscape Improvements Project. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
The $520,000 grant is part of the Transportation Alternatives Set-aside Program and will be used for the city's Downtown Square Streetscape Improvements Project. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

TALLASSEE, AL (WSFA) - The City of Tallassee was approved for a gr ant from the Alabama Department of Transportation that will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to revitalize the city's downtown area.

The $520,000 gr ant is part of the Transportation Alternatives Set-aside Program and will be used for the city's Downtown Square Streetscape Improvements Project. Mayor Johnny Hammock said the city must match $205,000 of the gr ant, meaning there will be $725,000 total to spend.

"We're going to be milling down roads, repaving them, redoing sidewalks and streetlights," Hammock said.

The project will also include efforts to include some decorative elements and lighting that will improve aesthetic along with functionality. The mayor said he hopes the efforts will bring new life to downtown and more presence to the area's storefronts.

Hammock said the city has been struggling to maintain steady business presence downtown since Hotel Talisi burned down in 2009. He said he hopes the new efforts will bring more foot traffic to businesses, encouraging people to open new businesses and increase sales tax revenue for the city.

"We've lost a lot of businesses since the hotel burned down years ago," Hammock said. "That was the main pull toward our downtown, so we're hoping to spruce up downtown and make it more attractive and fill some of these storefronts down here."

Kami Scarborough owns a realty business downtown. She just opened her second business, a clothing boutique, downtown last week. She said she is looking forward to the project.

"We are so happy about that," Scarborough said. "There are lots of little storefronts here in the downtown area, and we want to continue to grow it. We hope that between us, and some of the other people who have already invested their time and money downtown, that this is going to spark some more interest."

Hammock said the city still has money left over from a bond that will be used to help update some underground utilities during the repaving process.

"While we're tearing up everything, we're going to go ahead and lay new gas lines, sewer lines and water lines and put some fiber optic cable downtown for whenever we tie into it later on," he said.

According to Hammock, the project must be completed in two years. He said the city will work with ALDOT on the planning phase into 2019, and he hopes to break ground in 2019 as well.

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