Vacant since 1978, the former J.B. White building will be occupied in seven weeks.
In early April, a restaurant, coffee shop and professional offices will throw open their doors on the ground floor of the former department store now known as The White's Building. Residents will begin moving into the 17 condominium units on the third floor.
"Some of the residents going in there have already been asking if I deliver," said Jai West, who will run the coffee shop Casablanca CafÃ.
Ms. West is the former owner of The White Elephant, a Broad Street restaurant. The coffee shop represents a chance to escape the rigors of running a restaurant, she said. Don't expect Humphrey Bogart pictures on the walls of the Casablanca CafÃ, just chandeliers and wrought iron, glass-top tables.
Developer Sherwin Loudermilk, the president of Horizon Group Investments in Atlanta, said a fine dining restaurant called White Azalea will occupy the opposite side of the building's front.
It will be run by Augusta natives Peter McBride and John Pennell, both graduates of culinary institutes.
"To me, the White's building was such a center in Augusta," Mr. McBride said.
The White Azalea will seat 65 to 70 people and employ 12 to 16. The menu will be Southern and Southwestern cuisine prepared with French methods.
"I've seen the menu, and it looks pretty good," Mr. Loudermilk said.
The commercial floor of the former J.B. White department store will include the Downtown Development Authority, a sheriff's substation, a Meybohm Realtors sales office and a tax-preparation office.
Developers are also negotiating with a tenant who would open a European-style market with fresh produce and some groceries in the adjacent Doris Building, Mr. Loudermilk said.
The $9 million project has been under construction since October. All condominium units on the second and third floors should be completed by August. The building will have 51 condominiums.
A connected building on Ellis Street also will be redeveloped. When finished, it will hold another 30 condos.
Mr. Loudermilk said Horizon has its eyes on other downtown properties, including a boarded-up, two-story building on the southwest corner of Ellis and Ninth streets. Horizon will soon have a contract to purchase the building, which might become townhomes with garages, Mr. Loudermilk said.
"There's nothing like that downtown," Mr. Loudermilk said. He said the townhomes might be built as "smart homes," with remote controls for all the appliances and features.
The White's Building last had occupants in 1978, before the J.B. White department store moved to the malls. It later became part of Dillard's.
Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GET COFFEE, DO TAXES
- White Azalea
- Casablanca Cafe
- Downtown Development Authority of Augusta office
- Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative
- Tax preparation service
- Sheriff's substation
- Meybohm Realtors
- European style market and grocery (in adjacent Doris Building)