Residents who frequent downtown Augusta have probably passed the Jones Street Alley a lot, but thought little of it. It's largely a rough parking space next to the Augusta Common's Reynolds Street side. Multiple nearby buildings have been abandoned and boarded up, and the only sign of their historical use is the word "Belk" imprinted on the old retail store's outer wall.
But that is all about to change with a $1.766 million project to renovate the alley and turn it into a direct connector with the Common.
The project involves more than stormwater and streetscape improvements, according to Augusta Downtown Development Authority Project Coordinator Katherine Bonner. It will also beautify the nearby buildings and turn the parking lot's undeveloped terrain into a communal greenspace including benches. Additionally, two of the old buildings will be removed to create a seamless path to and from the Common.
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Once completed, the alley will include bollards to ensure safety from vehicles and it will be accessible to everyone under the American Disabilities Act.
Augusta Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard said this project has been in the works since 2015 and they are excited to partner with the City of Augusta, Cranston Engineering, and private developers to bring the connector to life.
The project is being funded by Georgia's Improving Neighborhood Outcomes in Disproportionally Impacted Communities grant program. The grant this week was accepted by the Augusta Commission and is now making its way through some of the background details.
Bonner said they hope to start construction within the next six months, and once ground is broken, they expect to complete the project in 18 months.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Augusta Common connecting to renovated, beautified Jones Street Alley