In December 2000, residents in Blue Mountain voted for annexation into Anniston. Viable choices were scarce. The city had about $100 in the bank. Tax revenue from Blue Mountain Industries, the textile mill that kept the town alive and was built on the site of an old Confederate railroad depot, had long ago dried up. Only 300 people lived within the city’s limits.
Through annexation, neglect and the Great Recession, the fortunes of Blue Mountain and the Anniston streets around that community have rarely prospered. There’s been more decay than development. We’re hopeful that a church’s construction near the corner of Blue Mountain Road and Noble Street will stem that trend.
In fairness, Victory Headquarters Christian Center isn’t a large retail hub that will bring in shoppers and sales tax revenue. But it is a worthwhile community addition that should transform the blighted area that used to be the home of the Calhoun County Fairgrounds into something more aesthetic, if not useful.
Count us among those who can get excited about new retail or commercial developments in Calhoun County, of which there’ve been several this year. Publix opened in Oxford a few months ago, and Sam’s Club is finally coming to Oxford Exchange. On Monday, The Star reported on three new businesses in downtown Anniston — a coffee shop, a donut shop and a lounge.
Nevertheless, the development of the former fairgrounds site may be more significant because it (a.) expands an already existing local church and (b.) renovates a block that, truth be told, is ugly as an Edsel.
It’s unfortunate that Anniston, more so than most other Calhoun County cities, has such a roster of empty buildings and vacant areas. Redeveloping them isn’t easy, particularly for a small town still working its way through recession recovery.
Blue Mountain’s recovery isn’t the key to Anniston’s future, but it will be nice to see that part of town make a step of modern-day progress.