DDRA

Traffic moves over the bridge in the 100 block of South Oates Street in 2017.

Downtown Dothan is on the way to securing property by “the hump,” which will allow the authority to expand its revitalization efforts around the key road feature.

Obtaining the land will give the Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority control of around a half-block of land in the immediate area.

Officials will need to ask the city for help in buying the parcel at 144 S. Oates St., which is listed for $25,000.

Dothan City Manager Kevin Cowper doesn’t see that being a problem, instead foreseeing the potential for beautifying a structure he viewed as the single “most recognizable place in Dothan.”

“You say ‘the hump,’ and I think everyone in Dothan knows where you mean, and there are not a lot of places like that,” he said. “The bridge is cool. The fact that there is an actual hump there is cool. All of the pieces are there to make a very Instagram-able location out of it, except the buildings are in horrible condition.”

Securing the hump has been in the authority’s strategic plan for years, as it is a key gateway to downtown. It’s also a place that experiences heavy through traffic from out-of-towners.

The board unanimously voted Wednesday to petition the city for special funding.

If the city approves, it will give the authority control of five adjacent properties, something that it has been working toward since 1982, Chairman Pat Thomas said.

‘We don’t have an immediate development planned, nor do we have funds to do that,” Thomas said. “Right now, our plans would be to secure the properties, secure the backs of the properties, clean out the inside of the properties and put temporary art, similar to what we’ve done with Porter Paint, on the front. So the blighted areas would no longer be visible to the thousands of people who pass through our city every day at the hump.”

He estimated that the art would cost around $10,000.

Cowper said with the city’s investment, he envisions the area to be a destination spot for photo opportunities and special occasions, such as engagements.

“We want to do everything we can to facilitate the redevelopment of that area,” Cowper said.

Authority Executive Director Jamie Bienvenu said the agency already owns one of the properties and has a verbal agreement with the owners of the three other properties to help with visual improvements.

“We’ve just always seen that as a key property, to try to revitalize,” she said. “So now, with the acquisition of this last puzzle piece, we feel like we’re in a strong position to be able to do that.”

Efforts will likely begin to improve the infrastructure of the buildings in disrepair before making plans to bring in businesses.

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