AIKEN — North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover on Friday made a pitch for the city’s Project Jackson stadium and hotel project to the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce.
The $143 million riverfront development, to be funded partly with county taxes, requires approval by the Aiken County school board and the Aiken County Council. The school system gave its OK on Aug. 13 after North Augusta limited the system’s participation and increased financial incentives, but the council chose to approve the deal by ordinance, requiring three separate votes. The council has voted “yes” to the plan once so far and could take another vote after a public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Aiken Technical College.
Glover told the large chamber crowd gathered for the start of Aiken’s annual Aiken’s Makin’ arts and crafts festival that he sought to dispel myths and misconceptions about the project.
For one, he said, the 25-acre project isn’t merely a stadium project but also includes a hotel, a conference center and other amenities. The stadium will be available for 10,000-seat concerts and sports events such as soccer and Masters Week golf events in addition to holding 70 home games of the Augusta GreenJackets baseball team, he said.
For at least four years, the GreenJackets sought a new home in Augusta to replace Lake Olmstead Stadium, but after no deal materialized, turned to North Augusta. Public reaction has been mixed to the public-private proposal, which under South Carolina law requires the development area to carry the designation of “blighted.”
The construction of Project Jackson, which must be completed in two years, will create or sustain 2,705 jobs, and the completed project will sustain 1,000 permanent jobs but a precise count of new jobs being created is not known, Glover said.
North Augusta is seeking to use the incremental property tax increases across a 457-acre special tax district to fund the development. For example, on a $100,000 home whose value rises to $110,000 as a result of the development, the project would take the difference in property tax revenue of $52.68.
As residents later paraded through downtown Aiken to celebrate the festival’s start, Richard Mixson said he supports the project and believes it will benefit the city of Aiken and Aiken County as a whole, with the stadium and hotel drawing an audience from surrounding counties into North Augusta.
Mixson said that North Augusta has deftly handled other developments such as the North Augusta Greeneway and that he expects the same with Project Jackson.