Sanford hopes beautification project revitalizes downtown

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

Sanford city leaders hope a major beautification project will breathe new life along its gateway to downtown.

Abandoned buildings, weeds and cracked sidewalks are what greet thousands who drive down U.S. 17-92, the main artery that gets people to the county headquarters building, City Hall and everything else downtown.
   
"It is one of the primary ways to access all of Sanford, really," said Sanford City Commissioner Randy Jones.

The city will use close to $2 million in Community Redevelopment Agency money to beautify what drivers see when they enter the city.

Changes will include 81 new light fixtures, bigger sidewalks with decorative pavers and moving unsightly overhead power lines underground.

The city hopes the changes will entice new businesses to move in.

"If the area looks run-down you're going to go try to find a better-looking area, location for your business," said Christine Muse, who works at an area diner.

"It's kind of a joke," said Jerry Buerger, who owns an appliance store along 19-92.
   
Buerger said crime is so bad that he's been broken into six times in three years. He said he believes it's going to take a lot more than pretty sidewalks to clean up this area.

"Just rebuild it. Get rid of the old and bring in the new," said Buerger.

Construction on the project will begin in late spring or early summer.