Fayetteville neighborhood transforms in five years - WFLA News Channel 8

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Fayetteville neighborhood transforms in 5 years

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -

A big investment is paying off with visible results in a particular area of Fayetteville.

In the last five years, a $20 million grant has transformed Old Wilmington Road, just southeast of downtown.

"Every time I turn around something else is going up," commented Dianne McClendon. "They're cleaning up or building up."

For about a year now, McClendon has lived along Old Wilmington Road. She and her husband bought and are making payments on one of 28 homes Habitat for Humanity built in the last five years. The building spurt came with the help of a Hope VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant has also paid for several apartment communities for people with low to moderate incomes.

"It's all down the street now," McClendon explained. "They got houses building everywhere."

Millions of dollars in private donations, and city and county contributions have also helped. The nearby park is improved, there is a community garden, and what was once an alternative school is now a standard elementary for the community.

"The way they cleaned it up is really great," McClendon said.

Ann Griffin, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity in the Fayetteville area, said her organization has been building in the Old Wilmington Road area since the late '80s or early '90s.

The Hope VI grant made a huge difference, though, and prompted other investment. The work has changed Old Wilmington Road.

Griffin describes a community feeling and a sense of pride in residents.

"Seeing something happen so rapidly just made the whole area come alive," Griffin said. "Now you see people in the evenings walking their dogs and carrying on conversations with neighbors, that sort of thing. Once upon a time that sort of thing didn't happen down here."

Griffin said the stretch of Old Wilmington Road is a prime example of grant funding being put to good use.

"They're able to make their monthly payments, but they're also taxpayers now, which they were not before," Griffin explained. "Last year alone we added almost a million dollars worth of property to the Fayetteville tax base."

McClendon agreed. She has also seen a community pride that has changed the area for the better.

"I think it's worth it because there are so many families that need," she said. "Just to say that you're working on buying your own home makes a lot of difference in the life of a family."

The last of the funds from the grant were used up this summer. Associated projects that were supplemented with other funding sources will wrap up in the next five to six months.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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