For a long time, Warner Robins city leaders have talked about wanting to redevelop and revitalize the city's downtown.
They’re getting started on Armed Forces Boulevard across from Robins Air Force Base with a new project set to start construction next year.
Warner Robins has entered into a private-public partnership to develop 15 acres between the VECTR Center and Memorial park.
“It's a great first step,” Lee Ann Gunderson told us at the restaurant she works at on Armed Forces Blvd.
Gunderson has worked at John's Mexican Restaurant for five years.
She says the new planned apartments will be great for their side of Watson Boulevard, closest to Robins Air Force Base.
“For the new clientele and revitalization down here in the older part of Warner Robins. And other businesses will probably come with the new apartments being built and it's great for just our community,” Gunderson added.
The city and Pennrose Properties are partnering to develop the 15 acres between the Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center and Memorial Park
The first phase is a 90-unit apartment complex that will be split between low income and market price units as well as apartments set aside for students at the VECTR Center.
The center's Chief Operating Officer, Trish Ross, says it will help their mission of getting veterans into the job market.
“Well they're definitely needed because we offer accelerated programs for veterans to come into a four credit program through Central Georgia Tech that gets them into the workplace quicker. So, we have what is typically an 18-month program that we do in 15 weeks,” Ross said.
Ross says veterans from outside Central Georgia normally cannot use those programs, because they can't afford long hotel stays. Of the 12,000 veterans the VECTR Center has helped over the last 15 months, 4,800 were from outside the Central Georgia region.
She says the 5 donated apartments are proof that, ‘Every day in Middle Georgia is Armed Forces appreciation day.’
“It just is a tangible representation of that when the entire community, the City, and this outside firm come together to be able to give back to our veterans, so that they can get into a workforce program and jobs. That just shows that they truly believe in our mission,” Ross said.
Ross says those 15-week programs are currently for welding and Cisco Networking. They have plans to add a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning course in March. They also offer an 8-week course for commercial truck driving.
Those classes are offered free to veterans thanks to financial support from the state. The new apartments will be donated to VECTR and free of charge to the veterans that use them.
Amon Martin, a Senior Developer for Pennrose Properties, says construction should start by October of 2018 and finish in November of 2019.
After having state tax credits approved this week, they are going to start design work very soon, according to Martin.