The Laney Walker/Bethlehem project is resulting in the two historic neighborhoods of Laney Walker and Bethlehem coming together to regenerate an important part of Augusta’s urban core – a transformation few people ever imagined.
The revitalization of Laney Walker/Bethlehem got its start in 2008, when the Augusta Commission passed legislation that established funding strategies for community development in Laney Walker/Bethlehem. The goal is to turn around decades of blight and disinvestment and regenerate nearly 1,100 acres of Augusta’s urban center. Funds are currently being used for building new homes and renovating current homes, planning, land banking and property acquisition. Since passage of the resolution, the Augusta Housing & Community Development Department has developed an overall master plan for the area, a pattern book to guide development, a financial incentives program and a marketing plan to promote the overall effort. The selection of pre-qualified vendors (developers, builders, architects, engineers) to focus on catalytic construction rounds out a broad set of resources devoted to this revitalization effort.
This large-scale development has been the beneficiary of many awards including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) award.
Much hard work has occurred leading to new and renovated housing stock in Heritage Pine (the inaugural development), Holley Street Commons, Dyess Park Corridor, Twiggs Circle and The Boulevard. The next area of development, The Foundry Place, is in a pre-development phase.
In 2014, an extensive review was completed to plan the development of a Heritage Trail to wind through the two neighborhoods that could showcase historic sites for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The trail would become part of the entire multi-million dollar revitalization of the area. Part of the goal is for tourists and locals to gain knowledge of the prominent and lesser known black businesses and leaders who shaped the neighborhoods decades ago and might be forgotten today.
One of the newest endeavors in this area is the 15th Street Redevelopment project, The Legacy at Walton Green. This is a 30-acre mixed-use and master planned community is being developed by Walton Communities, LLC to replace Cherry Tree Crossing on 15th Street. Demolition of Cherry Tree Crossing was completed in 2014. Groundbreaking the The Legacy at Walton Green took place on November 17, 2016 and the first phase is anticipated to be completed in 2017.