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'Blight and crime do go hand in hand' | South Fulton leaders look to revitalize Old National Highway

Four areas of Old National Highway have been identified for improvements. The effort will include cleaning up blight and bringing more businesses to the area.

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — People who live close to Old National Highway in the City of South Fulton spoke Monday about their concerns and ideas to improve it at a town hall. The corridor is one of the most dangerous and run down in the area.

Much of Old National Highway has become an eyesore for those who work and live in the area.

"It's raggedy and terrifying," Shantrell Williams said. “The roads are mixed up. There's a lot of violence and a lot of accidents, a lot.”

Cameron Young is another resident who would like to see the corridor cleaned up. 

“I’m not going to lie. It’s bad out here," Young said. "At nighttime, you hear a lot of gunshots, but it’s cool as long as you don’t mess with people, they don’t mess with you.”

According to the City of South Fulton Police Department, the Old National Highway corridor had more than 1,400 violent crimes in 2021, almost 1,600 in 2022, and more than 1,100 so far this year. The crimes include offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, and burglary.

“We’re working on blighted areas because we do know blight and crime do go hand in hand," City of South Fulton Councilman Corey A. Reeves said.

Reeves held a town hall meeting Monday to look for solutions to turn trash into treasure.

“We’re also bringing in new businesses too and attracting new businesses along this corridor because we do want people to not come to Old National and think of it as trash but come to Highway 279 and think of it as class," Reeves said.

Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. attended the town hall and would like to see a hospital and transportation improvements along Old National Highway.

“One of the things I certainly think we need are sidewalks. We need transportation improvements. There are too many people who are getting hit and getting killed just trying to cross the street with groceries," Arrington said.

City of South Fulton Economic Development Director Artie Jones said four sites along Old National Highway have been identified for improvement through the Livable Centers Initiative.

“Old National Highway at one point had its heyday. It was the place to be. You had a lot of teachers who lived here and people who worked for the airport," Jones said.

South Fulton leaders will host investors on a bus tour next week and show them the four areas identified for revitalization. Twenty-three acres at Old National Highway and Jonesboro Road is one of the areas the city would like to improve. The former Jackson's Music Store parking lot and the area around it are slated to become a 14-acre park and a nine-acre multi-million-dollar police headquarters. 

Reeves said he's trying to get federal, state and local money to improve Old National Highway. 

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