Urban Studio to take on Selma project

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Urban Studio, an Auburn University outreach program based in Birmingham, is planning a change of scenery for downtown Selma.

The group, which is comprised of fourth year and thesis level Auburn University students of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, has agreed to develop revitalization plans the two blocks of Water Avenue from the Edmund Pettus Bridge to ArtsRevive at Church Street, and the main economic artery on Broad Street to Dallas Avenue. ArtsRevive has coordinated the project.

Students will spend four days, beginning Thursday, developing an initial plan for the buildings, which includes interviewing business owners and residents to get an idea of what the community needs.

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Dr. Cheryl Morgan, executive director of Urban Studio, said its work is supposed to be a tool for a bigger plan of progression.

“We talk about our work as being a road map, not a mandate, “Morgan said. “It’s really a responsibility.”

Urban Studio invited the public to come interact with them Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. at the Church Street Methodist Fellowship Hall. They will be using the building as an initial workshop area.

On Sunday, Oct. 6, residents are welcome to join the group at ArtsRevive’s Carneal Building on 3 Church Street at 1 p.m. Urban Studio will announce their  initial conceptual plan there and encourage residents to ask questions and offer responses.

ArtsRevive executive director Martha Lockett hopes the changes will encourage people to look at potential with the city.

She said the renovation plans have already created a positive vibe among Selma residents.

“There is more sunshine than shadow,” Lockett said. “People are looking at empty building spaces and seeing what can they do with it.”

Urban Studio organization has revamped over 40 small towns in Alabama. Selma will stand as the biggest city the studio has designed.

Lockett said the project takes about $15,000 to complete. The Alabama State Council of the Arts awarded ArtsRevive with a $4,500 grant.

“What we need is for everyone to be involved,” Lockett said. “Hopefully, it will be dynamic and fluid and it will grow on it’s own.”

The group is scheduled to return to Selma on Oct. 22 to “ask more questions” and present a more formalized version of their development plans. Lockett said another community meeting will be scheduled during this visit.

On Nov. 7, Urban Studio is scheduled to present their final design plans.