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Urban Redevelopment Authority seeks to revitalize Lovejoy

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

On Monday, the newly created board established its rules, and appointed a financial administrator to manage several properties the city seeks to redevelop.

According to Lovejoy Post 2 Councilwoman Marci Fluellyn, the URA was established on Sept. 9 and had it's first meeting on Sept. 10. She said the purpose of the authority is to give Lovejoy a "sense of place" by executing a downtown-redevelopment plan.

"Our downtown area is pretty undefined ... There is nothing to attract their [visitors'] attention, make them stop and look, or even make them stay for awhile," Fluellyn said. "It has some areas that are under-used, and we wanted an entity that would help us get

some of those issues addressed.

"The main thing they will do is review the plans for redeveloping the downtown district and revitalizing the city," she said, "and act as a liaison for the city council [with potential businesses]."

The URA consists of three Lovejoy residents: Stefanie Elliott, a sixth-grade teacher for Fulton County Public Schools; Cherlynn Blasingame, a substitute teacher for Clayton County Public Schools; and Ed Barnes, a retired Marine and a retired ramp agent for AirTran Airways. Elliott serves as the chairman of the URA, and Blasingame serves as its secretary.

On Monday, the authority voted to appoint Lonnie Joyce, a financial consultant to the City of Lovejoy, as the URA's financial administrator/director. The URA also confirmed Monday that the city had recently purchased several properties along Hastings Bridge Road, and that people currently leasing those properties had been informed of the change in ownership.

According to Fluellyn, the recently purchased properties include: The building housing the Lovejoy Community Center, located at 11621 Hastings Bridge Road; the "Pies on Pizza" strip mall, and an adjoining daycare center; two truck parking lots on Hastings Bridge Road; and a vacant property next to the Lovejoy Community Center, containing a retention pond. Fluellyn said the city closed on the properties on Sept. 15, and paid approximately $4 million.

"This is a huge step for the City of Lovejoy," Fluellyn said earlier on Monday. "Once you revitalize the downtown area and give them a sense of place, the sky is the limit. It creates jobs, it creates a strong sense of community, [and] that helps with your housing property values."

Elliott said the city is still in the process of formulating its downtown-development plans. However, she said the plans include the installment of new sidewalks and landscaping.

"The downtown-development plan is still under review and will be released to the public during a town hall meeting," she said. "It includes sidewalks, streetlights, and landscaping, at this time."

She said the date for a town hall meeting about the city's development plans "hasn't

been scheduled yet."

The city's next URA meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26, at 7 p.m., at Lovejoy City Hall, located at 2601 Steele Road in Lovejoy.