The five projects of the Blue Mile

Matthew Enfinger

The City of Statesboro and Georgia Southern University continue to work on the South Main revitalization project known as the Blue Mile.

The idea for the project began in 2012 at a community leadership conference with the mission to revitalize the mile stretch of South Main Street as a point of pride that it once was prior to the completion of US 301 Bypass in 2008.

Since 2012, the Blue Mile has led the city of Statesboro to be one of 8 finalists in the America’s Best Communities contest in April 2016.

As a finalist, Statesboro was awarded $100,000 to begin plans of the Blue Mile as outlined in the community’s revitalization plan.

Phyllis Thompson, president of the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce and member of the South Main Street Revitalization Committee, named five projects that the committee has began and intends to complete.

1. Gateway Entrance

The project broke ground on Nov. 16, 2016 with the construction of the gateway entrance. The entrance is marked by two large structures that read “The Blue Mile” and can be seen near the South Main Street entrance of GS.

2. Neighborhood Revitalization

According to Thompson, there are 110 homes in the area that did not exist before the beginning of the Blue Mile Project. Habitat for Humanity has also built two homes in the Blue Mile Area.

3. Points of Interest

The Historical Society has put up 11 plaques along Blue Mile businesses and organizations. Among the other points of interest, a bench dedicated to blues legend Blind Willie McTell will be placed by early spring in front of the visitor’s bureau.

4. Greenway Space

The project is in the process of having a lease on a space that will create a dog park. The committee also plans to extend some of Statesboro’s trails and have them meet at intersections along the Blue Mile.

5. Way-Finders

Way-Finder signs have been placed around downtown to help explorers of Statesboro find where parking and attractions are located.

Amy Presley, sophomore business marketing major, works downtown at the Averitt Center, but said she rarely thinks about visiting historic Statesboro outside of work.

She said, “I’ve met a lot of people who go to Southern who have never been downtown.”

Statesboro City Manager, Randy Wetmore, states her belief that the Blue Mile could bridge historic downtown Statesboro to GS University by saying “I think it would be good if it’s an easy walk or there’s a reason to get on that Blue Mile area and citizens to make it out to the college to see what’s happening there.”

Although there is not a completion date set for the Blue Mile project, the winner of the A.B.C. contest will be determined on April 19, 2017 and will be awarded the top prize of $3 million to use toward their revitalization plans.

For more information, visit the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority website.