City leaders layout plan to get 'Savannah Shines' blight campaign off the ground

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Mayor Eddie DeLoach's plan to fight blight in the city of Savannah is now starting to take shape. City officials presented city council with how "Savannah Shines" will be implemented Thursday. (Credit: Josie Gregory)

Mayor Eddie DeLoach's plan to fight blight in the city of Savannah is now starting to take shape.

City officials made a presentation to city council on Thursday to show how "Savannah Shines" will be implemented.

DeLoach's plan would turn 2,119 vacant homes and lots into affordable housing.

Residents near some of the blighted properties said they perpetuate crime and violence because they are in some of the city's most poor areas.

DeLoach said it also goes beyond that.

"The value of their home has gotten to the point of where it's not worth anything as far as resale, so they're stuck there," he said.

Since Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation to relax eminent domain laws Tuesday, city leaders were able to move forward with their implementation plan.

The plan goes beyond just fixing up blighted properties.

"They will go into a neighborhood and engage, not just the neighborhood association, but all of the stakeholders involved. We want to get businesses involved, schools involved, churches," said Taffanye Young, Bureau Chief of the City's Community and Economic Development Bureau.

The bureau's plan is to ramp up community pride and for that to be sustained after redevelopment.

Young said it starts with beautification and blight eradication, but continues with community policing, stricter code enforcement, maintaining public infrastructure, like paved streets and sidewalks, and cultivating morale that will carry on after revitalization.

City leaders also mentioned having a long term investment in these neighborhoods, by reducing the violation correction window and following through on collecting fines.

DeLoach said now that a plan is in place, the city can move forward with starting the program later this year.

The plan is to start in one neighborhood and spread to others over the years.

City officials have not determined which neighborhood will be first, but Young said they hope to have a decision in the next few weeks.