Organization seeks to improve city, attract businesses

By Maria Ahmad

Re:New DeKalb is a local organization which attempts to revitalize the downtown area.

The group installed new streetlights and sidewalks, added trees and street furniture to Lincoln Highway and Locust Street, and buried and removed overhead electric wires. The group has other duties, as well.

“They’re under contract with the city to improve and assist in pursuing and fulfilling the new businesses that were once vacant,” said Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor. “The last time I recall, there were only one or two vacancies.”

Naylor said since Re:New DeKalb’s existence, he has noticed major improvements to the city.

“Public improvements were done under budget and ahead of the scheduled timeline,” said Re:New DeKalb President Frank Roberts, “Money was also given to the Egyptian Theatre, which put in new seats and upgraded their sound system.”

First Ward Alderman David Jacobson said he applauds the public improvements Re:New DeKalb has made, but has concerns.

“Many, many dollars—in fact, millions—have been spent for public improvements, but there are still empty storefronts in downtown with businesses such as Wright’s Jewelry and the Yarn Exchange closing down this week,” Jacobson said. “The funding for this project can be used for fixing up houses in areas, such as Greek Row.”

Re:New DeKalb receives $45,000 per year from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, Roberts said. It also gets funding through sponsorship from five businesses each year and from donations.

Editor’s note: City Editor Lauren Dielman contributed to this article.