Hitch Village to be Transformed by East Savannah Gateway Project

Earline Davis, executive director, The Housing Authority
Earline Davis, executive director, The Housing Authority

The Hitch Village public housing neighborhood, a staple in Savannah’s eastside community for 55 years, will provide the focus for East Savannah Gateway, a neighborhood transformation headed by the Housing Authority of Savannah and its community partners, as a renaissance of the Wheaton Street Corridor to upgrade property and people stuck in long-term cycles of poverty and its side effects.

The project will mimic past projects at Sustainable Fellwood and Ashley Midtown Hope VI, the housing authority is set to continue modifying the face of the city’s traditional public housing and its neighbors with a mixed-income format in sustainable neighborhoods. The new proposal will stimulate support services to revolutionize neighborhoods into promising environments. These support services will include the cradle to college-or-career concept championed by Savannah- Chatham Youth Futures Authority and community partners in the Promise Neighborhood model, better performing schools and resources and job training.

Home ownership would be increased in addition to providing health, safety and employment services.

The effort joins earlier initiatives by the housing authority and city of Savannah: Ashley Midtown Hope VI, a $55 million, 364- unit project on East Anderson Street; Sustainable Fellwood, a $60 million, 320-unit project off West Bay St.;Savannah Gardens, a $100 million, 550-unit tract on Pennsylvania Avenue.

In 2009, Earline Wesley Davis, housing authority director and the Housing Authority utilized a portion of the $5.3 million federal stimulus fund to tear down the 29-acre, 337-unit Hitch tract. In addition to this, extensive energy-efficiency renovations were made to neighboring Fred Wessels Homes and its 250 public housing units.

Hitch Village residents were immediately impacted. and relocated as part of the plan.

In January, the authority obtained a $300,000, twoyear Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood planning grant focused on the area between Bay and Henry streets and East Broad Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The plan allows $300,000 from the authority’s assets, with $569,684 infunding from partners to create a plan that will include the county’s transportation plan for non-motorized transit options and a proposed street car for Wheaton Street and Waters Avenue.

The project will of course include Hitch Village and Fred Wessels and eventually, Blackshear. The plan also encompasses Spencer, East Broad and Shuman elementary schools and Savannah High School.

The housing authority project, will elicit support from city of Savannah and Chatham County, Chatham Area Transit and the Chatham-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission, the Savannah- Chatham Board of Education, Savannah State University and Savannah Technical College.

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