Redevelopment efforts have been happening in South Rome for many of the final twenty years. Earlier this yr, the South Rome Redevelopment Corp. modified its identify to the South Rome Alliance and Berry School graduate Jake Hager was introduced again to Rome to steer the continued revitalization effort.
The deal with South Rome began round 2002, when metropolis leaders introduced in specialists from the Georgia Division of Neighborhood Affairs and the Georgia High quality Development Partnership to place collectively a renewal plan for the neighborhood that had blossomed with the expansion of Rome within the late 1800s and early many years of the 1900s.
Roman Herrington was employed as the primary govt director of the SRRDC in 2003. He was adopted by Karen Moore, Melissa Jones and Charles Looney earlier than Hager was employed earlier this yr.
The Rome Neighborhood Improvement Division was the day-to day-facilitator for redevelopment throughout a two yr time frame between Jones and Looney.
Hager brings loads of enthusiasm to his new place after working with the Georgia Division of Neighborhood Affairs following his commencement from Berry. His time with the DCA was cut up between the finance workplace and CHIP, the Neighborhood Housing Funding Program.
Truly, the Rome Neighborhood Improvement Division, beneath Ron Sitterding, grew to become concerned within the housing renewal effort within the Nineteen Nineties. That may be a partnership that has continued to today and resulted within the building of some 38 new single-family houses, most of it on deserted tons.
Enhancing housing choices was one of many authentic methods for the redevelopment effort, together with a plan for normal neighborhood clean-up operations. A 3rd a part of the unique plan was to enhance neighborhood heart amenities the place the general public might collect for a myriad of functions, from easy conferences to social gatherings and leisure alternatives.
David Hicks, former head of the Darlington College, was a frontrunner of the unique efforts twenty years in the past. Right this moment, the South Rome Alliance board is led by Brent Bell, the present head of college at Darlington.
“We’re at an thrilling juncture,” Hager stated. “We’re in a rebranding part. Simply popping out of COVID, a brand new govt director and a brand new identify is permitting us to emerge as a brand new model.”
Altering the identify displays the enter of many alternative gamers within the effort to revitalize the neighborhood.
“We want to think about ourselves because the neighborhood quarterback to align sources of different key gamers to help South Rome,” Hager stated.
The opposite gamers embody the town, Rome Metropolis Colleges, Berry School, Darlington and a variety of nonprofits, notably Mercy Senior Housing and Laurel Avenue.
The latter two organizations have been integral parts within the building of enticing multi-family housing in the neighborhood. Laurel Avenue was just lately accepted for an additional main tax-credit multifamily housing improvement off Pollock Avenue, which is anticipated to interrupt floor someday throughout the third quarter of this yr.
The brand new improvement might be referred to as South Meadows, partly as a consequence of its proximity to a neighborhood backyard that has been operated with help from the William S. Davies Homeless Shelters for the final a number of rising seasons.
It’ll have 80 items, together with a dozen single household tons that may be superb for added initiatives constructed with assist from the Neighborhood Improvement Division.
That space is on the finish of the South Rome levee, which Hager says he’d like to see additional developed for path use — very like the paths atop the Coosa River levee alongside Second Avenue and the Oostanaula River levee reverse the downtown Broad Avenue district.
The identical space, on the Coosa River facet of the levee, can also be slated to be dwelling to a brand new boathouse and river entry space funded by the 2017 SPLOST package deal, which might present a giant increase to the world.
Putting a stability
Hager stated the Alliance serves the neighborhood in three huge areas: mixed-income housing, cradle to grave instructional alternatives and neighborhood wellness.
The schooling effort has been enhanced the final a number of years by the South Rome Early Studying Middle at Anna Okay. Davie Elementary College. Area within the new college constructing was allotted for a 3-year previous preschool, which has been properly acquired throughout the neighborhood. The Early Leaning Middle is a partnership that includes Rome Metropolis Colleges and Berry School.
The neighborhood wellness effort consists of industrial and enterprise improvement, which is an space that has not developed strongly over the past twenty years.
Rome Neighborhood Improvement Director Bekki Fox stated it’s laborious to pinpoint the explanation that new enterprise has not developed, though she speculated that a big a part of it might merely be the dearth of accessible area.
South Rome misplaced one enterprise, Not Yo Granny’s Soul Meals Fusion, which was pressured to shut throughout the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hager stated he’s anxiously awaiting the opening of a brand new barbecue restaurant on East twelfth Avenue close to the railroad tracks, proper on the perimeter of South Rome.
Hager stated that attracting the precise companies is a key goal of the Alliance going ahead.
“We’re on the lookout for companies that may promote and stabilize the neighborhood,” Hager stated. “I don’t suppose we’re on the lookout for a liquor retailer. I believe there’s a robust need for a meals mart. Possibly a Greenback Normal Market may do properly.”
One of many final targets of the Alliance is to spur personal funding, which has been seen with some housing items which have been constructed on vacant infill tons throughout the district.
Lots of these tons had been created because of metropolis demolition work to do away with dilapidated houses deserted by means of the years.
Hager additionally speculates that service-related companies might do properly, akin to a very good auto restore store, heating and cooling companies, even a breakfast-style restaurant.
The age demographic in South Rome nonetheless skews to the older finish of the spectrum however some youthful households at the moment are transferring into the neighborhood to reap the benefits of its proximity to downtown.
The Burrell Sq. phase of the final Laurel Avenue housing undertaking has performed a job in attracting youthful households.
Hager believes that enhancements to the close by Parks Hoke Park would additionally assist appeal to households with kids, although he was not conscious of any particular plans for the park presently.
The South Rome Alliance places of work have been functioning out of a small area on the second ground of Metropolis Corridor for the final a number of months. Hager stated the workplace might be transferring into new area at 1 S. Broad St., simply throughout the South Broad Bridge from downtown Rome. That transfer is anticipated to be accomplished inside a few weeks.