Revitalization grant

The City of Elba received a $450,000 grant check Friday afternoon, Oct. 23, from Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to be used for downtown revitalization. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs [ADECA] is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Shown pictured above are (left to right): Sandy Bynum, Elba Chamber of Commerce; Elba First Lady Liz Murdock; Elba Mayor Mickey Murdock; and Justin Maddox, Restoration 154 Inc.

Governor Kay Ivey on Friday, Oct. 26, awarded almost $17.8 million in Community Development Block Grants to improve 54 Alabama towns, cities and counties. “I am pleased to award these grants to support vital community improvement projects, and I commend the dedicated local officials who sought these grants with the intent to make their communities better places to live,” Governor Kay Ivey said. The 55 grants will support a number of community improvement projects including water and sewer extensions and rehabilitation, street and drainage improvements, housing rehabilitation and community centers. The City of Elba was among those receiving a grant from the Large City Fund [municipalities with populations of 3,001 or more]. Elba received a $450,000 grant for downtown revitalization. “Several experts have studied Elba over the past five years,” Elba Mayor Mickey Murdock said. “They have concluded that the key to community and economic development of our beloved city is downtown revitalization. A team recently met to determine how to start the revitalization.” The mayor said the ‘team’ included people from the City, Restoration 154, state organizations and other non-profit organizations. The result of the meeting was for the team to obtain the data necessary to apply for a grant from the state organization ADECA. Community Development Block Grants are awarded annually through a competitive process in four main categories including small city, large city, counties and community enhancements. Other categories in this round include Black Belt and planning grants. Award determinations are based on the number of low and moderate-income families affected, urgency of the need and project cost efficiency. Murdock said it was decided DeAnn Grantham, of Southern Engineering Inc., and Sandy Bynum, of the Elba Chamber of Commerce, would obtain the information; Justin Maddox of Restoration 154 would provide information related to the Elba Theatre project; and Rachel Armstrong, grant writer with Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, would write and submit the application for the grant. Obtaining an ADECA grant requires local funding and citizen participation. “To provide monetary support, the Elba City Council committed $75,000 and Restoration 154 committed $125,000,” Murdock said. “Local participation included citizens writing letters and/or signing a petition in support of the grant, downtown property owners agreeing to participate in the project, and local leadership supporting the project, including Senator Jimmy Holley and Representative Chris Sells.” The grant and the local financial support totals $650,000 to provide façade improvements to all storefronts facing the Coffee County Courthouse in Elba and to restore the Elba Theater to operational condition (phase 1 of 3 phases). “When combined with the improvements to the courthouse the Coffee County Commissioners have made already, downtown Elba will be receiving over $1.1 million in revitalization,” said Murdock. Before work can begin, designers will meet with property owners for storefront design, and architectural plans will be developed/approved. The Elba Theatre’s existing architectural plans also will be approved. The mayor said contractors will be solicited to bid on the projects and bids will be awarded. After these actions, construction will begin. The anticipated time frame for beginning construction on this project in Elba is late spring or early summer of 2019. “As many of you know and experienced, downtown Elba was the place citizens gathered, visited and shared stories, shopped, and participated in commerce,” Murdock said. “Saturday in downtown Elba was where it happened. We believe this is the beginning of making Elba vibrant and appealing again.” The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “As a former mayor whose city has been a recipient of CDBG awards, I can attest to how important this program is to our towns, cities and counties and the difference these grants can make in a community,” ADECA director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA is pleased to join Governor Ivey in the partnerships that it takes to make these grants come to fruition.”  

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