Downtown moving forward

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007


Downtown Selma may be taking on a new look sooner, rather than later.

Work could soon start on the relocation of power lines along Water Avenue, burying the crowded overhead lines underground.

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Bids are being taken by the city, and the lowest bidder is expected to remove the cluttered lines &045; a move city officials said would enhance the area as part of downtown development.

The Water Avenue StreetScape project is set to get underway within the next 11 months.

The office of planning and development is reporting phase III of the project calls for the widening of the sidewalk on the north side of Water Avenue, the addition of decorative trash receptacles, decorative brick sidewalks and the relocation of the power lines.

The Freedom Foundation, which recently received its tax exempt status from the IRS, has announced plans for renovation of the Tepper’s building. They’ve been taking bids from contractors who were to return the corner of Broad Street and Alabama Avenue &8220;to its place of prominence.&8221;

The Foundation bought the building on Jan. 2, 2007, and has plans to renovate the building’s historic faade, which will house a coffee shop, ice cream parlor, deli, youth programs and other family social services. Though there may not be any visible changes to the outside of the building, there has been a lot of work behind the scenes, foundation officials said.

The foundation has also been working through the bidding process for the removal of the aluminum siding on the Tepper’s building.

After receiving several bids, the foundation has opted to use volunteers to remove the siding beginning March 19, 2007.

A.J. Page, Freedom Foundation architect, said they have been doing structural, mechanical, electrical and environmental inspections and the building is structurally sound.

The foundation applied for its tax-exempt status in March 2006, and its determination letter was received this week. It is backdated to Sept. 7, 2005, the official incorporation date of the organization.

Duke said they have been moving forward pursuing grant opportunities and have been working on fundraising for the renovation of the Tepper’s building, but now that they have their letter from the IRS, &8220;a lot more doors are opening for us,&8221; Duke said.