Resources are here for a TEE center

Here's a thought to move the TEE center along. It's dead in the water today, and its future is bleak.

 

What do we already have in hand? $20 million in cash, an existing exhibition hall at the James Brown Arena and a Coliseum Authority that now has the public trust. Let's put the three together to change the conversation.

First, you have to come to the realization that everything doesn't have to be "on the river." In fact, the current proposal for the TEE center does not front the river, but fronts Reynolds Street. It's a myth that the TEE center must be next to the convention hotels. How many hotels are connected to the World Congress Center in Atlanta?

The exhibition hall option brings with it existing public ownership of the property; parking; adjacent meeting space; banquet kitchen; and professional management and marketing. If more parking is an issue, the Coliseum Authority has the bonding capacity to build a deck to expand its existing parking options. The authority also has property that could be available for a new hotel, just as the Omni Hotel is co-located with Philips Arena in Atlanta.

Using our existing assets makes sense in the current economy because the city won't have to borrow money to build a TEE center, and thus will not need the additional 1-percent bed tax that is levied for that purpose.

The TEE center would bring new activity to a different part of the central business district, just as the federal courts compound already has and the new city judicial center will do.

The general public and the commissioners are showing renewed interest in the James Brown Arena. Let's build on that by developing a TEE center that brings us all together, as opposed to continuing the contentious dialog that keeps driving us further apart.

Bob Young

Augusta

(The writer served as mayor of Augusta from 2000 to 2005. More recently he was Region IV director and the acting assistant deputy secretary for field policy and management for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.)

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