Wetlands, a fish farm, lakes and large community gardens integrated with affordable housing and commercial development are part of a planned vision for an expansive section of Augusta’s urban core.
Those amenities could be built in five targeted development areas along 15th Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Deans Bridge Road, according to initial findings released last week of a $1.8 million study commissioned by Augusta’s sustainable development office.
The study focuses on 4½ miles of road from downtown Augusta near Georgia Regents University to the vacant Regency Mall.
The findings suggest planning methods for the Cherry Tree Crossing and Dogwood Terrace housing projects, Regency Mall and Southgate Plaza, with an
overarching mission of creating jobs and fostering a safe community.
“We’re trying to create a vibrant, healthy, sustainable community,” said Sustainable Development Manager John Paul Stout. “One that can grow and prosper for years to come.”
At the site of Cherry Tree Crossing, which is scheduled to be demolished, and nearby land surrounding T.W. Josey High School, the study calls for more than 1,000 multifamily units and several hundred townhouses, single-family houses and student and senior housing.
Stout said the plan is only a suggestion for what the Augusta Housing Authority could develop at the Cherry Tree site, but it’s an option that integrates the vision for the entire corridor.
Potential concepts for Regency Mall include demolition to replace it with a residential retirement community surrounded by businesses to support senior housing, such as physician’s offices and a pharmacy,
Stout said. There would also be a traditional neighborhood and a school on the site.
Funding to implement the ideas comes from various sources, of which a few have been identified. The Georgia Department of Transportation will use money from the new transportation sales tax to widen 15th Street, federal funds will aid the replacement of Cherry Tree Crossing and city money will go toward uses such as right-of-way improvements and vacant house demolitions.
Public investment will help leverage private development, which is needed to fully revitalize the area, Stout said.
The study will go through another round of tweaking before a timeline for completion is set.