Residents unsure about Booker T. Washington redevelopment - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Residents unsure about Booker T. Washington redevelopment

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The site of one of the oldest housing complex, Booker T. Washington in Columbus, will have a new name and new look by the end of the year.

The plans to redevelop Booker T. Washington has been the talk for several months. Now that it's happening, residents are planning to move out and start over.

Booker T. Washington housing complex resident, Bernice Shaw has lived there off and on since 1998. Because of redevelopment, she'll have to relocate.

"When they rebuild, I want to come back, I want to come back," said Bernice Shaw.

The Housing Authority says there are only 44 families left living on the north end of the complex, who will need to be out my March.

"Get the residents relocated and that part of the site demolished. Then we will start construction on the new Columbus Commons and that will be about a 100 units for families and the southern end of the site will be re-purposed probably for commercial use," said Len Williams.

Because Shaw lives on the south end, it will be several more months before she will have to move. She sees people moving out everyday.

"To live in a better place, cause the building is old. Its time for a change," said Shaw.

The cost is 15 million dollars for each phase of redevelopment. Other public housing complexes, Peabody and Baker Villages underwent similar demolition in previous years. Columbus Housing Authority says it was time to update the site which has been around for over 70 years.

"It really became functionally obsolete over the years, so in an effort in improve the living condition of our residents we decided to redevelop that property," said Williams.

The NAACP branch in Columbus has some concerns about the redevelopment of this project. The president believes residents should be allowed to say and let the housing authority work on the problems from within the community.

"Throwing money at this problem displacing residents of housing projects and rebuilding it with mixed income communities is not the answer, the answer is employment and education," Tonza Thomas said, NAACP, president. The NAACP says they have a new housing chairperson in place handle housing issues.

Shaw has mixed feeling about the changes, but she'll miss some things more than others.

"The name, BTW. The surroundings. They got so much convenience. The post office, Georgia Power and the Civic Center right around," said Shaw.

Columbus Commons will start construction later this year and be ready for occupancy in late 2016.

The Columbus Housing Authority will have a public meeting at the Booker T. Washington office on Thursday, March 5. This will give residents a chance to look at the plans for the Columbus Commons site and ask questions to architects and planners about the project.

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