Savannah Riverkeeper will launch a $2 million capital campaign to finance remodeled offices, an education center and kayak facilities on riverfront land leased this week from the city of Augusta.
The 13.9-acre parcel on Prep Phillips Drive, about a mile downstream from the advocacy group’s current office near the Boathouse, includes an empty steel building once used as the city’s traffic engineering shop.
The lease, approved Tuesday by the Augusta Commission, allows the group to use the site for 100 years for $1 a year, with provisions that include keeping the area public.
One of the first projects will be the creation of a kayak trail to allow paddlers access to the nearby Savannah River. That amenity could open as early as this fall, Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus said.
The more complex projects include cleaning up the area, which is littered with metal and old car parts.
The city and Riverkeeper are working together to apply for a federal Brownfields grant that could provide funds and other resources for any needed cleanup, she said.
“We’re interested in applying for what they call a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant,” she said. Such programs are designed to encourage projects that could in turn spur new development in surrounding areas.
Remodeling the building and designing an education center would likely take two years or more, she said.