Spotlight on Tallapoosa & Chambers: Community Development

Anchored by the developments around Lake Martin, Tallapoosa and Chambers counties continue to make improvements in downtowns, retail and more

Downtown LaFayette has been designated as a Main Street Alabama Community.

Tallapoosa County

Russell Lands’ lakefront neighborhoods and amenities already provide much of Tallapoosa County’s total ad valorem tax yearly, and an additional development is underway with golf course, clubhouse and more. Most of the first set of lots at The Heritage have already sold.

The 1,500-acre new gated neighborhood is on 12 miles of shoreline and features about 240 waterfront homesites with panoramic lake views and 130 wooded interior lots — all within the city limits of Alexander City.

Alexander City Mayor Woody Baird says the city’s annexation of the new development is a win for everyone. “Russell Lands is an economic engine for us, and we are able to provide city amenities for residents.” There are other lakefront developments in the city limits as well.

The city is improving its downtown area and is looking to increase arts opportunities. It has moved police, public works and other government departments in a single building on former Russell Corp. property.

Alexander City has a very popular sportsplex that has hosted many tournaments, one with about 160 teams, Baird says. The city is working to attract more hotels.

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Alexander City schools are working on a new high school within the sportsplex. And a new senior living project is underway at Russell Medical, made possible by a $25 million gift from Ben and Luanne Russell. It will back up to the sportsplex with trails for golf carts or walking, Baird says.

Alexander City’s Main Street program is an award-winner, working to beautify downtown and other areas and promote economic vitality.

Dadeville, the county seat, has finished a roundabout traffic feature at the courthouse square, says Mayor Jimmy “Frank” Goodman.

Several projects are underway downtown, he says. A private developer is upgrading a former hotel, he says, and another project aims to open a bar and dance studio. A Guthrie’s restaurant is planned, and the city will soon get new playground equipment for Plantation Park.

Tallapoosa County schools’ Edward Bell Career Tech Center offers programs in business technology, law enforcement, health sciences, welding and industrial maintenance and offers dual enrollment options with Central Alabama Community College. Alexander City schools offer seven career clusters at Benjamin Russell High School in agriscience, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, health science, Navy JROTC, marketing and IT.

Knauf Insulation in Lanett employs almost 300 people making fiberglass insulation.

Chambers County

The Chambers County Development Authority, the county’s economic development agency, also focuses on commercial and retail development. The CCDA is targeting cities for downtown revitalization and available land/commercial building spaces for new development. Growth is expected off Exit 77 on Interstate 85.

The city of Valley is going to be the location of a new “smart home” development, Camellia Crossing. It’s the first of 10 planned phases. This first phase will include 28 new homes. It’s being built by Holland Homes.

The city of LaFayette, the county seat, has been designated as a Main Street Alabama Community. The city recently accepted a $302,282 bid for a Community Health and Wellness Center as part of the Rural Health Project at Auburn University.

The city of Lanett, which has its own city school system, hopes to develop a riverfront park on the Chattahoochee River, officials say. The city is working on updating its comprehensive plan and is close to finishing projects at its municipal airport, including a new terminal and a runway extension. A new Guthrie’s location has opened.

The city also elected a new mayor, Jamie Heard, who served three terms on the Lanett City Council.

Chambers County schools plan to build a new high school in LaFayette or Valley. The county school system’s Inspire Academy offers some 13 career technical programs and all high school students in Chambers County area eligible to attend. Nearly 740 students in grades 7 to 12 are enrolled in career technical courses.

The system also has a new superintendent, Casey Chambley.

This article appeared in the December 2022 issue of Business Alabama.

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