City of Jacksonville looks to revitalize downtown area

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The City of Jacksonville is looking to revitalize the downtown area so they’re pushing efforts for homeowners to buy downtown.

On Monday, leaders marked the success of their new initiative by holding a ceremony for four homeowners who purchased homes. Those homes feature front porches, off street parking, custom design and energy efficiency, plus they are only feet away from the river front and festivals.

The Downtown Housing Initiative launched in 2011 and aims to create safe and livable neighborhoods.

Officials said a contractor will demolish old properties which can no longer be fixed, replacing them with custom homes.

“Taking out that negative reputation and putting in some positive ones especially with the new homes that we’re building down here and the new businesses that are coming downtown,” explained Tracy Jackson, a Community Development Specialist for the City of Jacksonville.

Four families are taking advantage of the housing program.

Latasha Evans said having a place to finally call home is rewarding and the mother of three said the entire process was relatively easy.

“[I] went down and applied and they actually hold your hand and they walk you through step by step through the process and I’m just glad to be a part of it,” said Evans.

Ms. Sand is a first generation homeowner. She said her favorite thing is her kitchen where she can make authentic Asian food.

“They helped me to get this house, it’s really good, I really love it you know, and this is my dream,” explained Sand.

For Evans, it’s the location. “I can just walk to festivals and you’re just in the heart of everything,” she said.

The initiative also allows those looking to renew their home to apply for assistance to bring it up to city code.

Folks in Jacksonville can apply to the housing initiative for free and must attend a homebuyer’s education course as part of the process.

Other than the new housing initiative, City of Jacksonville officials are also looking to revitalize other parts of the downtown area.

Several years ago, officials created a master plan to encourage people to invest in downtown.

Leaders are looking for business owners to open new shops, new restaurants and new businesses.

The goal is to turn around Jacksonville’s reputation.

“Take a chance on downtown,” said Lillie Gray, the Community Development Administrator for the City of Jacksonville. “Come downtown, see what it has to offer, there are a lot of wonderful buildings downtown that you can’t find anywhere else in the city. Just take the opportunity to look.”

Owners can partner with the city to make proper upgrades or expansions.

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