Representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be in Rome next week to help kick off the planning process for a $1.25 million Choice Neighborhood Planning grant awarded to the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority.

The target area, in East Rome, is bounded by the Norfolk Southern rail line, East 12th Street, Flannery Street and the Georgia Northwestern Technical College campus.

Community Development Director Bekki Fox said a public meeting has tentatively been set for 5 p.m. Nov. 19 at Restoration Rome on Crane Street.

Fox and officials from the housing authority will be going to New Orleans this week for a training conference that will precede the site visit from HUD personnel on Nov. 19-21.

City Commissioner Wendy Davis, who chairs the Community Development Committee, said there are a lot of empty and underutilized buildings in the target zone for the planning grant.

“There are a lot of opportunities there. You’ve just got to stop and think about them,” Davis said.

Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson said the planning grant offers the entire community a great chance to work on a plan together.

“It’s going to be fun to sit down and vision what that area could look like,” Eidson said.

Fox said getting buy-in from the community on the projects is one of the big aspects to the process.

The housing authority has already started plans for more than 60 new apartment units on the site of the former Altoview Terrace apartments off Spring Creek Street. The authority is also considering complete demolition of the Graham Homes public housing project in the area of East 12th Street and Cedar Avenue.

Aside from the residential opportunities in the area, there are a lot of empty commercial and retail structures along the Maple Street corridor from East 12th Street all the way down to East 20th Street.

Fox also explained that the city’s revolving home building funding has more than $775,000 in it and, with the closing of a fourth home on Pollock Street imminent, another $97,000 will be added to the fund.

Plans had been to build more homes on Peachtree Street in South Rome but the negotiations with property owners have stalled.

The same holds true for property in West Rome.

“I don’t think we have time to negotiate,” Fox said, noting that there’s a deadline to use the funds.

“We’ve got to find places to build right now,” Davis told the panel.

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