Fairgrounds ribbon cut

Published 11:07 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fairgrounds: City officials, bankers and contractors who have worked on The Fairgrounds, along with Town E. Bear from TowneBank, cut the ribbon on the project’s residential development Tuesday.

The city took another step forward on the redevelopment project known as The Fairgrounds Tuesday, when officials cut the ribbon on part of the housing portion of the project.

The project developer and financier joined city officials at the ribbon cutting prior to the National Night Out kickoff event. Two homes out of 36 planned have been built near the Hall Place neighborhood.

The site once was the location of the Planters Peanuts factory, which now is relocated nearby, and hosted a burgeoning community of black businesses.

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“Everything you could think of, it was there,” City Councilman Curtis Milteer said Tuesday. “We’re very proud the city is coming to revitalize this area.”

The project has been in the works since 2001, but only began to rise from the ground in 2009, with the construction of the Health and Human Services building.

The new homes began to come to fruition last year. A number of nearby businesses and apartment living opportunities also have cropped up in recent years, spurred by the government investment.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson applauded the decade-long effort and said she hoped Tuesday’s event would encourage homebuyers to come looking.

“Today, what we’re doing here is breaking the ribbon on homes, on people who are coming here to live,” she said.

Morgan Davis of TowneBank said the bank believed in the project so much that it brought together its financing, mortgage, insurance, real estate and other branches before construction even began.

“This is very unusual for our bank,” he said. “We had never done that before.”

But, he said, TowneBank made it a new experience because its officials believed in the project.

“We wish you joy and prosperity,” he said.

Kenneth Jolley, president of Associated Contracting Services, which is building the homes, said TowneBank was “truly instrumental in bringing this thing together.”

“This is an opportunity to bring homeownership back to downtown,” he said.