Phenix City Citizens Help Plan Future

Staff Report From Columbus CEO

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

In September 2018, the Phenix City Housing Authority and the City of Phenix City were awarded a $250,000 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Planning Grant was to develop a community-driven Transformation Plan for the Frederick Douglass / Five Points neighborhood — the ‘heart’ of Phenix City. Mary Mayrose, Executive Director of PCHA, said the scope of the neighborhood was intentional. “By including so much of the heart of our city, we can pull in the community to rally behind this plan and join in the effort to revitalize the center of Phenix City.”

Mary Mayrose, Mayor Eddie Lowe and Frederick Douglass Resident Council Chair Jasmine Lawrence lead the Choice Neighborhood Transformation Planning Process.  This Planning Leadership Team (PLT) hosted several community-wide workshops over the past year, where the community has given input about what their visions and dreams are for the city’s center. “It is important that we hear from the community and this project be owned by the community.” said Mayrose. “The planning process has
brought residents and community stakeholders together and has provided unique opportunities for residents to take on leadership roles and advocate for our community needs.”

At the December 3rd, 2019, Future Five Points Forum, the PLT is presenting three possible alternatives to the community for transformation of the neighborhood at a Frederick Douglass/ Five Points. Mayrose commented, “We heard the vision of our community and have come up with three alternatives based on their input. The results of tonight’s meeting will guide our team to finalize and cost-out the chosen alternative.  We will complete a market study for the selected alternative and present the finalized
project to the community again in a final format in early May.” Once finalized, PCHA will apply for an Implementation Grant from HUD to help provide funding for implementation of the alternative. “This will be a true public/private partnership to see the change we want in the heart our community. This is a chance for Phenix City to see some real revitalization in the city’s center,” according to Mayrose.

Another requirement of the CNI Planning Grant is for PCHA to complete a ‘Doing While Planning’ (DWP) project in the neighborhood. ‘Doing While Planning’ is a project that the community chooses and designs; and then provides the ‘sweat equity’. Our DWP project, located at the corner of 14th Place and 12th Avenue, will be highly visible to the community and will demonstrate the community’s ability to make positive change, and to show residents that planning can lead to actual neighborhood improvement.” Mayrose explained. “Teams of stakeholders and residents for the DWP were formed and they have been working through the fall to create, design and budget the project.

We anticipate work to start on the project in early January.” The DWP is expected to be completed in conjunction with the submission of the planning grant application in early May.