While he calls the early plans to convert former Augusta mills into campuses for Georgia Regents University a potential “game-changer,” President Ricardo Azziz said it is still a “city effort” that the university is not ready yet to invest in.
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, a proponent of the mills campuses, said it will be up to the city to get a detailed plan together to present to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents but he is encouraged there is interest in the project.
In his first presidential address since Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities consolidated into GRU, Azziz referenced a plan by city leaders to convert two former textile mills into expansion campuses.
“While there is much study yet to be done, it is truly exciting and potentially a game-changer for the city of Augusta and for this university,” Azziz said. A campus planner is working with the university to look at the potential there, he said. But the university cannot fund the development, Azziz said.
“It has a lot to do with the finances,” he said. “The university does not have the resources to make that happen unless the city itself commits to helping do that. This is a city effort and we are certainly trying to be as helpful as we can be but this is not our effort at this point.”
Copenhaver said he was encouraged by the commitment of a campus planner to the potentially enormous project.
“This is a big deal, and it took us four months to get to the point where it was well-formed enough to get out there into the general public,” he said.
“There’s still a tremendous amount of due diligence and work to be done but I take it as a good sign.”
The city must put more detail with the plans going forward, Copenhaver said.
“We’ve had engineers in town, architects, we’re building out the financial modeling,” he said. “We have to go through the thorough due diligence process. We’ve done a tremendous amount of that to this point. There is still more to be done. But I believe that this will end up being a win for the state, the city and the university system and the university itself.”