Augusta redevelopment plan grows boundaries of “downtown”

A sign on the Calhoun Expressway heading towards downtown Augusta. FILE

Downtown Augusta grew by leaps and bounds Monday in a document approved by the city planning commission.

 

The commission authorized adding Harrisburg, Olde Town, the medical district and the Laney-Walker district to the city’s downtown redevelopment master plan. Planning Director Melanie Wilson said the additions show developers “we have downtown residential neighborhoods,” with residents “within walking distance of the downtown area.”

City Planner Warren Richard said the additions align downtown’s boundaries with those of the Downtown Development Authority and shift downtown demographics. Under the new boundaries, downtown’s population grows from 2,618 to an estimated 19,701, and its median income increases from $14,988 to $24,656, Richard said.

Total jobs also increase, from 27,796 to 40,210 jobs, and new housing units go from 106 to 440 units, he said. The additions, which include the extension west through Harrisburg to Milledge Road, resulted in one decrease, as median home values went from $137,500 to $99,113, Richard said.

Planning Commission member Sonny Pittman said the group felt the additional areas “needed to be included” in the downtown redevelopment plan “so we would have more of a larger downtown.”

The plan was presented in September as an update to 2013 downtown redevelopment plan, a document created primarily for the city Urban Redevelopment Agency to issue bonds to renovate Augusta Municipal Building. The plan details existing efforts to redevelop downtown, such as the 2009 Westobou Vision, a joint Augusta-North Augusta plan, and the 2010 Augusta Sustainable Development Agenda.

The plan, now headed to the Augusta Commission for approval, mentions but is distinct from the estimated $83 million downtown streetscape plan under development for Broad, Fifth, Sixth, Greene and Telfair streets and James Brown Boulevard.

The sidewalk, median and roadway improvements slated for one-percent sales tax Transportation Investment Act funding are under design by the Atlanta landscape architecture firm Cooper Carry and several sub-consultants.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-2315 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

 

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