Local News

Bragg Growth, Highway to Lift Longtime Eyesore

Posted June 6, 2007 7:03 p.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2007 9:58 p.m. EDT

— Shaw Heights is part of Cumberland County that has long been considered an eyesore, but a future freeway around Fayetteville and major growth at Fort Bragg could bring new life to the area.

Sandwiched between Fort Bragg a few hundred yards to the north and the Fayetteville city limits a half-mile to the south, Shaw Heights has long been neglected by the Fayetteville and Cumberland County governments, County Commissioner Billy King said.

“What you basically had there was a poor area. There was a bunch of renters, a bunch of trailers. No one paid them any mind,” King said. “One day, everyone looked around, and you had a blighted area there.”

Joe Tolley, a longtime resident and landlord in Shaw Heights, said Fayetteville considered annexing the community many times over the years but never did.

"The city forgot about us. They don't want us. The county forgot about us because we're too close to the city," Tolley said.

Gene Waller, another landlord in the area, said the city should have annexed the area long ago.

“The city doesn't want it because there’s not enough tax base,” Waller said.

Landowners in the community have their hands tied, he said. They want to improve the area, but they’re limited in what they can do.

"Basically, get it annexed into the city and get sewer lines in here, because without sewer lines, we can’t build anything,” he said.

Tolley said he would like to build 100 apartments on his 14-acre property. He can't, however, because, unlike other nearby areas, Shaw Heights has no sewer lines.

"All I need is some sew[er]age -- and about 20 years shaved off my old age," he said with a laugh.

King said sewer lines should come soon to Shaw Heights. Growth from a realigned Fort Bragg and a new Interstate 295 through the area should revitalize the area, he said.

The area should eventually attract restaurants, hotels and an industrial park to serve defense contractors at Fort Bragg. With the expected redevelopment in Shaw Heights, annexation could finally happen in the next few years, city officials said.

"I see this happening in the next three to five years," King said.

Lorenzo Powell, who operates an auto repair shop in Shaw Heights, said he looks forward to the expected growth, despite the fact that I-295 will displace his business.

"It needs a lot of help. It needs to be revitalized," Powell said. "I-295 will bring business into the city."

Eighty-five percent of the homes in Shaw Heights are rental properties, King said, and some of them also would be displaced by growth in the community.

"The question is, where would they go from there? Clearly, that area is going to be upgraded. I feel very sure it is."