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Hinesville prepares to resuscitate downtown
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Hinesville lies on the cusp of progression as redevelopment efforts are expected to unfold this summer.
To help resuscitate the downtown area, city officials were aided by a Georgia quality growth research team and a land development company that brought the $3.5 million Memorial Drive realignment project into the planning stages, City Manager Billy Edwards said.
When the city council soon finishes acquiring the appropriate land, they will start construction to realign Memorial Drive and Washington Avenue to eliminate the disconnect between those roads and Highway 84, he said.
“The problem is there’s no connectivity to the Memorial commercial corridor from 84, and that cut-off has collapsed the business in the area,” he said. “During the realignment, we will also create a traffic circle at Main Street, Memorial and Washington, which will create an opportunity for new business.”
Local businessman Rodney Elliot has expressed an interest in constructing a four-story building at the circle, he said.
“The building would have retail on the bottom floor, office space on the second floor, new apartments on the third and fourth and a parking garage,” he said. “We have to wait for the Memorial construction to begin to see how it will work out, but this $9 million project is something we hope to get off the ground.”
Across town off Gen. Screven, the three-phase Azalea Street redevelopment project is under way, and the construction of 19 new houses (7 houses and 12 townhouses) in phase II will begin soon, downtown manager Sandy White said.
“We are about 99 percent complete with phase I,” Assistant City Manager Kenny Howard said. “The roads, water and sewer are in place and we are finishing up the curbs, drainage and sidewalks.”
Howard also turned in the necessary paperwork yesterday to obtain $500,000 in grants to offset the cost of the 12 new townhouses to make it more affordable for the Azalea community.  He also said the construction of phase II would begin in 30 to 45 days.
It’s like a domino effect because the people farther down the street who reside in phase II can trade their land to help pay for a new house in the phase I portion. When everyone trades their land in the phase II portion, the city can clear that land and offer it to those who live in the phase III section, and so on until the entire street is redeveloped one section at a time, Edwards said. 
“The project is intended for lower to moderate income individuals, and it’s a great and clever way to renew our community and retain our citizens,” White said. “I hope this urban redevelopment becomes a trend for Hinesville to breathe new life into our city.”
White is also working on a  $75,000 signage effort to more easily direct tourists and newcomers into the downtown area.
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