Block Grant Could Help Rehab Fluvanna Town - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Block Grant Could Help Rehab Fluvanna Town

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UPDATE:  Wednesday evening the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors approved plans to apply for a block grant for Columbia. 

A million-dollar makeover could soon be on the way to one Fluvanna County community. Planners propose ripping down buildings and rehabbing neglected homes to encourage new investment in the small town.

The county is applying for a community development block grant to remove blight and build safer homes in the town of Columbia.

Jennifer Yoder moved her family to Columbia three years ago.

"It's a nice little country town. Thought it'd be a great place to have my daughter grow up here," said Yoder.

Their rental home has a leaky roof and basement. A shifting foundation leaves gaps between the front door and its wood frame. Old wiring even sparked a fire that burned her daughter's blanket.

"Basically, just the whole thing needs to be redone. It's just an old house that hasn't been kept up like it should," said Yoder.

The years and floods have also worn away Saint James Street in Columbia.

"It's just like a forgotten town. I think everybody sort of forgot about Columbia," said Yoder.

But not any longer. Fluvanna County and regional planners are developing a project to revitalize the town. 

"We want to try to capture the essence of Columbia. We just want it to be up the hill where it's not susceptible to flood damage," said Billie Campbell, regional planner.

A $700,000 - $1 million community development block grant combined with hazard mitigation funds would rehab dilapidated homes. 10 buildings would be torn down.

"What we're hoping for is that it will clean out a lot of the blight and remove a lot of the barriers to people wanting to live there and people wanting to invest there," said Campbell.

The proposed improvements encourage Yoder to call Columbia home for the long term.

"I would like to stay, because I love this little town," said Yoder.

County supervisors will hold a public hearing on the plans Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Property owners still have to agree to sell the buildings. The town says those owners have been engaged in the planning process.

If Columbia gets the money, construction could start as soon as the fall.

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