Hwy. 123 Beautification Efforts Still Going Strong

Progress is continuing on efforts to clean the Highway 123 corridor in Stephens County.

Organizers are calling the effort the Currahee Beautification Project and officials with the city of Toccoa and Stephens County say the project has a lot of momentum.

Toccoa Planning and Main Street Director Connie Tabor said that Acree Oil has already demolished an old gas station at the corner of Broad and Currahee streets and grassed the lot.

The city previously reached a lease agreement with Acree Oil for the lot.

Tabor said horticulture students from North Georgia Technical College will now help the city design a landscaped green space for that area.

“There will be some planting of trees, grassed areas, flowering plants, more perennial plants, things that do not require a lot of maintenance,” said Tabor.

Tabor and others from the city met with the students last week to start looking at that project.

Besides the landscaping, the city plans to put a downtown entrance sign on the Broad and Currahee property.

Tabor said it would look similar to the sign by First Baptist Church on Tugalo Street on the other side of downtown Toccoa.

“It will be a little bit larger sign,” said Tabor, who said the goal would be to make it visible from either direction.

Tabor said the city and students from North Georgia Tech have also talked about designing another green space next to the RC Bottling property on Currahee Street.

Also, Acree Oil is planning to demolish or renovate a number of other buildings.  Tabor said the company will take down the old Dairy Queen and Waffle House buildings, along with a former gas station on the northeast side of the Acree Oil property, while renovating a former gas station across the street.

Also, Tabor said that other properties in the corridor on the city have contacted her about doing work on their properties.

To help in this effort, the city allocated $42,000 for a grant program to help property owners in this area with projects like these.

Acree Oil has already received an initial grant for its work on Broad and Currahee.

Tabor said the grants for work on Currahee Street will be similar to the facade grants the city already does in the Main Street district.

“Project allowances are to be based on 50 percent of the total beautification project cost with a maximum of $5,000,” said Tabor.

Properties from the city limits at about ZebulonBaptistChurch to Big A Road are eligible.

Tabor did say that there are differences between the programs though.

“We are allowing demolition projects and green space projects,” said Tabor.

Overall, the city has contributed $115,000 to help fund the Currahee Beautification Project in the city. 

County officials and property owners on the corridor have also expressed support for the effort.

“We are really excited about where we are with the projects,” said Tabor.

The Currahee Beautification Project grew out of a community meeting in September that discussed cleaning up the Highway 123 corridor, one of the main gateways into Toccoa.