AUGUSTA, GA – Almost a year ago to the day, Chester A. Wheeler, Director of Augusta’s Housing Department met quietly with a group of over two dozen private firms – engineers, architects, contractors, and developers – to discuss upcoming development activity in Laney Walker/Bethlehem. The firms, all of whom had been vetted through the City’s extensive procurement process, were all more than a bit curious as to what they had been “pre-qualified” for. Their charge, Wheeler noted at the time, was to take the lead in regenerating 1100 acres of Augusta’s urban core.
The Augusta Housing & Community Development Department has decided to hold its first annual Laney Walker/Bethlehem meeting, largely to celebrate how far the revitalization effort has evolved over the past year and to offer a view of coming attractions for 2012. “You know,” Wheeler noted, “when you are involved in a project of this magnitude and complexity, you tend to lose sight of the forest for all the trees. Your eyes are focused on all the nitty-gritty details that need to be addressed. We felt it was high time to step back, take a look at the broader picture, celebrate all that has been accomplished, and say ‘thank you’ to a huge number of folks in the community who have helped make this vision a reality.”
The Annual meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, January 18th from 6 to 8 pm at the Family Life Center of Tabernacle Baptist Church, will feature the premier of a new short film on Laney Walker/Bethlehem, showcase highlights from 2011, and provide a roadmap for development activity in 2012. A special community heroes award will also be given out, though Wheeler is keeping mum regarding more details on that award. The event will also feature special remarks by Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Augusta administrator Fred Russell. New Orleans native Victor Coney, who has recently moved to Augusta, will be providing light refreshments.