City honored for Newtown community development

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SARASOTA - The City of Sarasota is being honored for its work to revitalize the community.  And to some that work is noticeable when traveling anywhere in North Sarasota.

"I was born and raised here, so I know what it went from to now", says Gregory Buchanan, talking about improvements made to the Newtown area.

The City of Sarasota has invested more than $60 million to fund improvement projects throughout the community, including the storefront renovation program which Buchanan says has helped his business.   "Its brought me more customers, people ride through, where before they would ride through and be like what's that over there now they know it's a barber shop and the environment looks good and they aren't afraid to stop."

The city says the storefront renovation program is just the tip of the iceberg.

"The Robert L. Taylor center is open and flourishing and exceeding all expectations, the $58 million Booker High School is traffic, several new housing projects have just been completed or are underway. So there is a real wind at our back in terms of trying to improve the quality of life and the economy," says city manager Tom Barwin.

But the work in the Newtown community isn't just helping the economy. It has also brought the city national recognition and the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award.

"Its awesome for the city to actually get this award, its deserving," said Jerry Fogle, who runs the Robert L. Taylor complex.  He says the city deserves more than an award because the money they have invested back into the community has changed many lives.  "They say we're so glad to have this place because we don't know where we would be if we didn't have this place to come to"

 Buchanan added, " You never really hear anything about Newtown unless its negative, so with them spending the money I think it will help people realize what we have over here is a part of Sarasota, and there's no reason to be afraid to come over here."

The award will be presented on February 1'st in Washington D.C.