TEE Center fate uncertain as commission meets this afternoon

Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 11:50 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 10:45 PM
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Today’s Augusta Commission meeting is the last one scheduled before Aug. 31, the date businessman Julian Osbon says a deal on selling property for a Hyatt hotel will collapse, and so far no compromise has been met for funding the trade, exhibit and event center and Laney-Walker/Bethlehem revitalization.

Commissioner Joe Jackson, who placed “discuss/update path forward relative to TEE Center” on today’s agenda, said he believes some form of action will get six votes today, but other commissioners aren’t so optimistic.

“I think it’ll probably be removed” from the agenda, Don Grantham said.

Asked what he expects, J.R. Hatney said, “Reality-wise, I really don’t know. I can’t tell you no more than that.”

Mr. Osbon said his contract to sell one of four properties that will make up the site of a new Hyatt Place Hotel & Business Center, across from the TEE center on Reynolds Street, expires at the end of the month. It’s already been extended twice, he said, and unless he sees some convincing sign that commissioners are moving forward on the exposition center, he won’t extend it again.

The issue has had the commission divided along racial lines since early May. Mr. Hatney contends that the TEE center could have been built years ago with the $20 million raised through a bond issued against sales taxes, and now there could be nearly $30 million on hand to get started if interest earnings and excess collections are factored in. The problem, Mr. Hatney says, is that the white commissioners want to issue even more debt to build a $38 million TEE center and a parking deck costing $12 to $17 million.

“Somebody should ask the question of why the TEE center hasn’t been built already,” Mr. Hatney said.

He said he wants an equitable companion plan for rehabbing Laney-Walker and Bethlehem, which were attached to the TEE center in 2007 in a deal to get a sixth vote on a site and operating agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC.

Mr. Hatney wouldn’t discuss specifics, but according to Mr. Jackson and City Administrator Fred Russell, Mr. Hatney has suggested taking $300,000 per year from beer taxes – currently going to the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority – and putting it toward inner-city revitalization bonds, allowing $8.5 million to be raised up front as opposed to $7.5 million.

Coupled with $750,000 per year from the $1-a-night hotel fee, that would put the annual figure going to Laney-Walker and Bethlehem at $1.05 million.

But taking $300,000 per year from the coliseum authority could problematic, seeing as how the authority’s accountant has predicted that it will already be $100,000 in the red with the $1 million Mr. Russell proposes to pull from its current share of hotel/motel taxes to put toward TEE center bonds.

Mr. Russell said he’s not expecting the TEE center plan to be resolved today, either.

“I don’t think there’s enough votes to get it passed,” he said.

The meeting starts at 2 p.m. in commission chambers following a 1 p.m. work session on the Transportation Development Plan for Augusta Public Transit.

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Big_vike
1
Points
Big_vike 08/18/09 - 11:03 am
0
0
Why is it so important to

Why is it so important to link the TEE center with inner city development? If the Tee center is good for Augusta, then it's benefits will be felt by all Augustans. If you have to give certain commissioners a carrot to get them to vote for the TEE center and move Augusta forward than its useless to even consider it, they are only in it for what they want, and not what benefits the city, only what benefits their district, not seeing the whole picture and what benefits the Augusta metro area.

froggy1
18
Points
froggy1 08/18/09 - 11:16 am
0
0
All commissioners should be

All commissioners should be fired and start all over Augusta will never grow because of them they are so childish and racist get a life ya'll!!!!!!!!!!!!

SnowBallCity
2
Points
SnowBallCity 08/18/09 - 11:21 am
0
0
I keep wondering . . . Why

I keep wondering . . . Why would Hyatt make an offer unless it didn't see a business advantage here? And that would be good for both Hyatt and Augusta right? Augusta as a whole. The Hyatt can certainly afford it if it flops. But they are willing to chance it because they see profit in it; them and Augusta. But the commission would rather quibble about past events while Hyatt gets impatient and is deciding to move on to their choice number two. Hyatt has certainly done some research on Augusta before offering. This sounds like an opportunity to me.

Dixieman
17584
Points
Dixieman 08/18/09 - 12:17 pm
0
0
Race, race, race. Blacks

Race, race, race. Blacks vote for blacks, whites for whites. The only time they unite is to dump on the Asian guy. C'mon, Augusta, we can do better than this!

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 08/18/09 - 01:00 pm
0
0
"inner-city revitalization

"inner-city revitalization bonds" That sounds like a slush fund for uselessness

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 08/18/09 - 01:06 pm
0
0
We don't need another empty

We don't need another empty luxury hotel downtown.

LEO
0
Points
LEO 08/18/09 - 01:10 pm
0
0
If it weren't the TEE Center,

If it weren't the TEE Center, it would be another big-ticket item held hostage. The fact is, the commissioners against the TEE Center say they are looking out for their constituents in tying Laney-Walker/Bethlehem revitalization funds to a yes vote, which of course is short-sighted, because the number of jobs (construction, or otherwise) created directly and indirectly would raise the per capita income of those areas. So, the residents could theoretically help improve the area themselves. It looks like the commissioners are again looking for a handout, not a hand up.

HillGuy
8
Points
HillGuy 08/18/09 - 01:38 pm
0
0
Ask yourself this question,

Ask yourself this question, why was the true cost of the TEE center withheld from the public for so long? The reason there has been a near 4 year delay on this is because they asked for $20 million when they knew full well it was going to cost more like $70 million. Well they've had the $20 million they asked for plus some interest. Since this TEE center has been so radically altered from the proposal that was voted on in 2005 with the costs more than tripling, the only fair thing to do is to allow the citizens to vote on it again.
http://www.draftbutch.blogspot.com

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 08/18/09 - 03:23 pm
0
0
I agree with Hillguy. Call

I agree with Hillguy. Call your commissioner and demand they put the idea of a TEE center on the November ballot.

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