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Lula downtown renovation work underway
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Crews ready the ground Friday morning and build concrete forms along Main Street between Athens Street and City Hall, as they put in sidewalks and make other improvements.

As someone putting forth his own downtown renovation efforts, Mark Lusink is glad to see the city of Lula working toward improving the area’s look.

“It’s the next step in revitalizing the city,” he said.

The northeast Hall County city has torn up one side of Main Street, from Lusink’s historic Poole building near Athens Street to City Hall at Charlotte Street, to make way for new sidewalks, additional parking, and curb and gutter.

“We’re eventually putting in new streetlights and better signage,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said last week.

“Everything is going great,” he said. “The weather has been great and the inconvenience has been limited.”

The stretch under construction is lined on one side by businesses and on the other by railroad tracks, which run through the city.

“The contractor has been really good — he doesn’t take over the whole parking lot (of businesses),” Bergin said. “... We think at least the major inconvenience should be over by (this) week.”

The $245,703 project, weather permitting, should be completed within a few weeks, he added.

It is the third part of a larger “streetscape” effort that includes improving Main Street from Lula Elementary School off Chattahoochee Street, which runs parallel to Main, to the U.S. post office off McLeod.

Past improvements have included new sidewalks on Main west of Athens Street, as well as construction of Veterans Park at the corner of Main and Athens. The park features a decorative water fountain and bricks laid in honor of veterans.

The city had been able to make improvements through a federally funded program that enabled local governments to dress up key roadways. The money faded out after Congress passed a transportation spending bill in 2012.

“This (latest phase) will be the last of the (program funding in the city),” Mayor Milton Turner has said. So, for future efforts, “we’ll look at other funding sources,” he said.

The fourth phase hasn’t been decided but could be discussed at an upcoming meeting, Bergin said.

“They could go either north or south or east,” he said, with a chuckle.

Regardless, Lusink said, renovation efforts downtown have been exciting to see.

“If we look at what’s happened over the last five years, it’s been fairly dramatic,” he said.

Much of that has been due to Lusink’s eforts.

He renovated a 19th-century, two-story building on Main Street in 2014. He began last year working on the single-story brick Poole building, a former car repair shop/garage dating possibly to the 1920s or ’30s.

Lusink is converting it into retail or business/office space, possibly a restaurant.

“I have to finish putting the air conditioning system in it,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s finished.”

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