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Downtown scape taking shape

By Leigh Anne Butler

Work began earlier this summer on a $2.4 million downtown improvement project that was awarded about four years ago. The City of Tallassee secured the grant which is funded through the Alabama Department of Transportation through their Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

The project will take place in two phases. The first involves replacing water, sewer and gas lines. Following the completion of that phase, a second streetscape project will include paving and reconstruction of streets, new sidewalks, new lighting and signage.  

“The (first part of the) downtown project is almost 50 percent complete,” Tallassee Mayor Sarah Hill stated. “First we get the stuff underneath the ground fixed and ready to have better utility access for our current business owners and hopefully for new businesses coming in. I would love to come up with a cohesive look for downtown Tallassee.”

When asked about the possibility of burying the power lines in the downtown area, Hill explained, “I have reached out to Alabama Power regarding this issue. A couple of years ago we discussed this and it was about a $200,000 plus price tag, so I don’t think that’s going to be in the works for this particular project. Some of the business owners have reached out and said they’d be willing to front the cost to get their conduits in the ground for their own business. I will continue to work that angle and see if we can get that done but I just don’t think it’s in the cards this time.”

The demolition of the Hotel Talisi is another issue awaiting action. The city is hoping to use already awarded funds to complete taking the condemned hotel down.

“Several years ago, the city was awarded a certain amount of money to take down 27 houses that were either in disrepair or unsafe structures,” Hill elaborated. “We’ve gotten through one round of that.  As we’ve been waiting and Covid happened, and all of these remaining houses are going to sell for so much more than they were several years ago. 

“I think some of the owners have pulled back their approval to get these properties torn down. We are hoping to use the $182,000 or so dollars that’s remaining in the CDBG grant to take down our number one unsafe structure, the Hotel.”   

Hill stated that eight or nine companies have expressed interest in bidding on the demolition and removal of the Hotel Talisi. She is hoping such interest will secure a reasonable bid for the job.

“The utilities have all been re-stubbed out so that once we get it taken down and clean it up a little bit, then we’ll be ready to find a private investor for it.  My hope is that maybe we can get someone to come and open a boutique hotel so that we do have some hotel rooms for people to use when they come to town.  One of the best things we have is the potential.

“I really enjoy seeing the progress we are making.  I think city hall is getting back to work and getting things done,” Hill concluded.