SRA talks revitalization, web-based economy

Published 4:59 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

Members of the Selma Redevelopment Authority (SRA) met Thursday to discuss a slate of projects the organization has in the works to revitalize Selma, both aesthetically and digitally.

SRA Chairman Juanda Maxwell said in the coming months surveyors will be visiting Selma to inspect the city’s digital infrastructure as part of the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) Project, which will be looking into the feasibility of establishing a web-based economy in the Queen City and transforming it into a digital hub for the Black Belt.

Before any advances can be made, surveyors have to collect data on what kind of digital infrastructure the city already has, as well as it what it has the capacity to establish and maintain and what it will need.

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“This will help businesses expand their footprint and create an environment that’s good for business,” Maxwell said. “But in order to create it, they have to see what we have and collect that data.”

The SRA is scheduled to meet with representatives from CORI at the end of the month and begin bringing in people to take on the job. A survey will begin in April and should be completed in May.

SRA member Martha Lockett also discussed the City Planning and Design Grant, which Selma has already been informally approved for – representatives from Design Alabama, which is awarding the grant, have confirmed the city was approved in conversations with SRA members, though no written confirmation has been received as of yet.

The grant will provide for urban planners and streetscape designers to visit the city and draft a plan for revitalizing the entire downtown economic district.

Additionally, branding experts will be consulted in order to find ways to better promote the city across the state and nation.

“It’s an opportunity to come up with a unified plan,” Lockett said.

The revitalization plans will be shared verbally, so Maxwell is working with leaders in Auburn University’s Architecture, Design and Construction department to translate the plans onto paper.

The group also discussed preliminary plans to install lighting along the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a concept Maxwell noted evokes impassioned responses from many in the community.

Currently, the group is only looking into the feasibility of the plan and soliciting input from the community on whether or not the bridge should be lighted.

Lockett noted that the group is currently waiting to hear back from the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society for their thoughts on the plan, but should know within a month if the group can move forward.

If so, the SRA will apply for a grant in the next month or so and a designer, who generally charges up to $40,000 for such work, has offered to develop plans for the lighting at no charge to the city.

Three plans will be submitted for the “community-based project” and, from those one will be chosen.

“This is a planning project to see if we can get ready for the lighting project,” Maxwell said. “Lighting makes things look pretty and clean. It would marry beautifully with the St. James Hotel. The SRA is just looking to see if we can get the support of the community.”