More levels of TEE Center parking OK'd

As he continues to search for financing to build an eight-story Hyatt Place hotel at Ninth and Reynolds streets, Cortland Dusseau on Monday turned to the city of Augusta for help.


Dusseau, a managing partner with Alabama-based Legacy Hospitality LLC, already has backing from the Downtown Development Authority to finance a 106-space parking garage under the hotel, but six months after a proposed groundbreaking date has no bank willing to lend money for the $25 million project.

On Monday, he asked Administrator Fred Russell to recommend the city lend its credit to an application for bond financing. Russell said, based on the numbers Dusseau presented, he wasn't ready to make the recommendation.

"The city doesn't need to be in the hotel business unless I can justify the fact that it's a good deal for us," he said.

The 139-room Hyatt Place initially was put on hold while Augusta commissioners debated construction of the adjacent downtown trade, exhibit and event center, but the city-financed TEE Center and its adjoining parking deck are now under construction.

Commission committees took no action regarding Dusseau's request, but did authorize the addition of two levels to the TEE Center parking deck.

The addition will increase the number of available spaces from 450 to 650. "The need probably exceeded what we initially thought," Russell said.

"The other factor," he said, is "the recent conversation about parking downtown."

The DDA has proposed meters and set a Jan. 24 workshop with officials on a plan to enforce parking rules itself.

The committee voted 3-0 to reprogram approximately $3 million in leftover SPLOST 5 funds for the additional levels, which will bring the deck's height to six levels and its budget to $12.2 million.

In other action
  • The city’s engineering committee also approved moving construction of an intake facility at Charles B. Webster Detention Center ahead of a planned addition of an inmate pod. Russell said the change will allow the city to close its downtown law enforcement center sooner and costs about the same amount, $18 million from SPLOST 6.
  •  The committee also authorized reprogramming $9 million in SPLOST 6 funds to enhance the sheriff’s new administration building under development on Walton Way. Commissioner Joe Jackson said the improved facility would include state-of-the-art crime labs and bring Augusta law enforcement into the 21st century. Commissioner Bill Lockett said he applauded Russell for “finally admitting” that he and Commissioner Jimmy Smith were correct in thinking the building would have been cheaper if they’d picked an alternate proposed location at Southgate Shopping Center. 
  • After a called legal meeting, commissioners signed off on a settlement agreement with former 911 Director Phil Wasson, agreeing to give Wasson a neutral reference while Wasson can make no claims against the city. Wasson recently retired after an equal employment opportunity investigation found he created a hostile work environment at 911 by favoring one employee over others. Mayor Pro-Tem Alvin Mason voted against the settlement.