PHENIX CITY, Ala. — The City of Phenix City has announced that a special meeting will be held to discuss their vision for the redevelopment of its downtown area, raising alarm bells for residents who remember the fall-out from similar city actions in the recent past.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. ET at the Martin Idle-Hour Park Community Center, located at 3743 Moon Lake Drive in Phenix City.
Members of the Phenix City Council will meet with members of the Downtown Redevelopment Authority and the Planning Commission to discuss the city’s “Downtown Vision Plan.”
As covered in a 2018 article by WTVM, the downtown revitalization plan has previously caused concerns and hardship for residents throughout the city. The city’s housing authority effectively forced the eviction of several low-income families from the Riverview Apartments so their buildings could be torn down in favor of newer mixed-income housing.
The stunt left many low-income families and children with nowhere to go.
The city did not act to provide temporary housing until residents voiced their concerns to move the city’s hand. Through the residents’ civic engagement, they came together and placed the city on-the-spot in the public eye to properly correct their actions.
The Phenix City Housing Authority then reluctantly provided temporary housing to more than 100 families displaced by the old complex’s demolition. It took residents banding together to insist the city correct their undeserved evictions.
While numerous city officials claim to care about the city’s affordable-housing residents, their actions reveal the opposite. The city seems to value the economic benefits of building affordable housing more than it cares about what happens to the people who live in it.
This writer personally raised questions and concerns about the displacement of residents at the time, but was met with blank stares and a genuine lack of concern from city officials and other influential Phenix City residents. No one seemed to care at all about what happened to the residents, so long as the new buildings were built.
While the city’s development project did improve the quality of affordable housing with the opening of Whitewater Village, the initial plan to displace residents during reconstruction overlooked the immediate effects on residents.
The city’s development initiatives have done little to improve the true quality of life for residents in the downtown area, despite the millions of taxpayers’ dollars spent. The area’s high crime rates continue to be a reality for families, in spite of the city’s eight-year development efforts to revitalize the neighborhood.
The downtown area surrounding the new Whitewater Village complex has been the scene of several shootings this year, the latest of which occurred in front of the complex just over a month ago on July 28, 2022. Another occurred just one block away in front of the newly-built Marriott hotel on Whitewater Avenue, and another just three blocks away on the corner of 13th Street and Broad Street in front of the local KFC restaurant. The list goes on.
The city’s newly-announced special meeting for the development of the downtown area also comes on the heels of the city’s sales tax hike, making Phenix City the fifth-highest sales tax jurisdiction in the nation. The Muckraker covered the city’s sales tax increase in an exclusive data-driven article on the subject, revealing how the city’s most vulnerable residents are ironically those likely to be hurt the most by the tax increase.
Residents of Phenix City can stay informed about the city’s plans to revitalize the downtown area by attending meetings like the one to be held on September 6, 2022. Residents may find benefit in paying special attention to how the city’s plans might affect their lives and livelihoods.
The meeting announcement on the city’s website includes a clickable link so that residents can attend the meeting virtually, which can also be accessed through the Muckraker’s local government calendar event here.
Phenix City residents can also voice their opinions of the city’s downtown redevelopment plans by contacting their city council members through the city’s website.