Valdosta - The sidewalks along Martin Luther King Junior Drive are cracked and some parts of the road need resurfacing. It's a far cry from the condition the street was in many years ago. "This was the economic booming area for the African American community here," said Mara Register, Community Development Director.
Now city leaders are bringing life back to this once popular area, thanks to a $500,000 Transportation Enhancement grant for the Georgia D.O.T. They'll add that to sales tax money the city set aside and give the Martin Luther King Corridor a much needed facelift. "We'll have a total of 1.6 million dollars," said Register. "You'll see streetscape enhancement, curb and gutter changed, infrastructure improvements, beautiful landscaping and decorative lighting, and all sorts of pedestrian amenities."
City leaders also want to use part of the grant money to start Valdosta's first open air market. It will be located where MLK Drive runs under the Patterson Street Overpass. "It will be a permanent structure where we can have a farmers like market with homemade items and goods made here in the Lowndes County region, so people can come and sell their items here in this wonderful area," said Register.
The redevelopment project will stretch along all eight blocks of the MLK corridor, from Oak to Fry Streets. City leaders are confident their work will bring business back to this once thriving area. "We're already seeing new opportunities interested in coming to the area because of the corridor redevelopment project," said Register.
And they hope to have the design plans complete and those improvements underway by the end of the year.