Redevelopment project in the works on "City Village"

Redevelopment project in the works on "City Village"

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As thousands flock to Columbus for what USA Today calls one of the best man-made whitewater rafting courses in the world, city leaders want to make a great impression on tourists as they enter the city.

The area known as the Gateway to the Riverwalk is about to undergo a major facelift. The stroll down 2nd Avenue from Johnston Mill Lofts to the TSYS north campus doesn't look very appealing according to city officials, and they want that to change.

"We want to make it look better to begin with and there are all sorts of opportunities. The land that the city currently owns...getting them back on the tax rolls," said Marquette McKnight of Media Marketing and More. She is working with the stakeholders along with Columbus Historic Foundation to make it a success.

The project also includes getting rid of eyesores throughout the community, also vacant and boarded up homes. The idea derived a meeting Mayor Teresa Tomlinson attended with national urban planners.

We're told about 12 percent of the people who live in City Village –south of Bibb City-- are homeowners and they will not be displaced.

Keith Turner rents his home and he says with whitewater rafting, he saw the shift coming.

"Actually, I agree with it totally, 100 percent, because I figured it was going to happen because due to the time when I see the tourists and I wave as they come by and I talked to the neighbors about keeping the area presentable," Turner said.

Turner said he also cuts his neighbor's grass free of charge just to keep the area looking neat.

The Columbus Historic Foundation is overseeing the project, and a host of stakeholders and volunteers are participating to help in the redevelopment plan.

The cost is about $250,000and is slated to come from Redevelopment Community Block Grants. The turnaround should take only eight months. It's unclear when the project will start.

Copyright 2014 WTVM. All rights reserved.