HGTV ‘Home Town Takeover’ series highlighting Wetumpka airs
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The world’s eyes were on the city of Wetumpka Sunday night. The first episode of the highly anticipated HGTV series ‘Hometown Takeover’ aired at 7 p.m.
The new six-episode event series brought revitalization to several different downtown buildings, and is also bringing national attention to the small town.
“To see the transformation has really been incredible,” said Jenny Stubbs, Executive Director of Main Street Wetumpka. “There definitely are parts of town that would probably not have seen any change and improvements for years to come and to see it happen and the ripple effects from that transformation is amazing.”
The small town of Wetumpka has been on the road to recovery for years after an EF-2 tornado struck the city in 2019.
“We had the tornado that hit us and it did tremendous damage,” said Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis. “We started climbing back out of that and then HGTV picked us up and brought us to where we are now.”
“We’ve had this since of hope that’s kept us motivated but the time that the show opportunity came about we were pretty exhausted, so to have this help come in and really make the most of it has just been a dream come true,” Stubbs said.
Out of the 2,600 cities that applied to be on the HGTV “Hometown Takeover” Series, Wetumpka was chosen. The once in a lifetime opportunity is helping the city continue to get back on their feet.
“Some of the most recognizable landmarks in our town were blown away and it was a real downer to say the least. The hope that this has generated in our community is invaluable,” Stubbs said.
Hosts of the show, Ben and Erin Napier, brought a production team to Wetumpka for about 6 months. The series showcases 12 major renovations, including restaurants, shops, historic homes, an entire downtown street, and a new farmers market overlooking the river.
“It’s a great blend of private residences that really needed an opportunity to be bolstered up and lifted up, but also public spaces everyone will be able to benefit from,” said Elmore County Commission Chairmen Troy Stubbs.
Ben and Erin are famed for their renovation projects in Laurel, Mississippi. Stubbs said they brought the same passion and eye for creativity to Wetumpka.
“These are people that care,” Stubbs said. “Ben and Erin are known for the care that they take in their own community and then splintering off and going to a place they’ve never been, working with people they’ve never met before, but then enacting this change is what they do.”
Al of this national exposure is bringing lots of tourists to the city. Mayor Willis said with that, comes a big financial boost.
“People are coming here and guess what? When they’re spending their money that helps us with our tax base,” Willis said. “These are exciting times for us, but we have to be smart enough to manage this and we have a group of people that’s been put together to do this.”
When asked about whether or not the city of Wetumpka would have been able to afford these projects without the help of HGTV, Mayor Willis said, “There is no way possible. What they came in here and did would have taken years and years, and they did a lot of this on private property and individual citizens here, redeveloped for them and helped them, we can’t do that as a municipality. They made a tremendous difference in our community and we appreciate that.”
HGTV has given renewed hope to Wetumpka, and Stubbs said this is just the beginning.
“We were primed for someone or something to push us over the finish line,” Stubbs said. “There was a lot of groundwork laid and a lot of dedicated people who put in hours and hours of, in many cases, work that went unnoticed, and people didn’t pay much attention to. So we put ourselves in a great position for us to get that final nudge across the finish line that got us to the point where now I think a lot of people here have confidence, they have hope, and the best is yet to come.”
The 6 episode series will air every Sunday night at 7 p.m. for the next 5 days on HGTV. The series is also available to stream on discovery plus.
The series features celebrity guests who lend their talents to the town’s overhaul. That includes music megastar Sheryl Crow.
Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.
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