The clock may be ticking on Mayor Hardie Davis’ effort to build a new civic center at Regency Mall in south Augusta.
Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias is calling for the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority to “select another site” if the authority doesn’t reach an agreement with the vacant mall’s owners by 11 p.m. Nov. 30. Sias, who lives in south Augusta, is District 4 commissioner but the mall is in District 5 of Commissioner Andrew Jefferson.
“The efforts of the mayor to facilitate a revitalization of this area deserve commending,” Sias said.“However, the time for a hard decision referencing this project site is well past due.”
Davis extolled the coliseum authority’s 4-2 vote in August to build at the mall site, calling members’ decision to go against a site selection committee’s choice of building at the current James Brown Arena site “visionary.”
Augusta member Darren Smith presented a brief term sheet addressed to Davis from mall owner Alan Cardinale ahead of the vote, and since then, authority attorney Ed Enoch has corresponded with Cardinale’s attorney in an effort to reach an agreement.
In the last information made public, Cardinale agreed to gift the portion of the land where the arena is to be built in exchange for tax abatements, parking improvements and maintenance and low-interest financing to redevelop the surrounding land. The estimated $120 million arena has no designated funding source.
Despite public support from south Augusta area residents, the proposal created a rift between Davis, who faces reelection in May, and Augusta business leaders who have committed time and resources to redeveloping downtown.
Davis did not respond Friday to questions about meeting the deadline.
“The possibility of building the new civic center arena at the old Regency Mall site was very exciting for many residents living in south Augusta,” Sias said. “The old mall property has been a constant eyesore for more than two decades.”
But several commissioners have said the deal as presented is unacceptable. Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis said Thursday she believes the authority will resolve the issue soon due to the lack of commission support.
Commissioner Sean Frantom said he is pleased Sias took the initiative to set a deadline.
“It’s time to move on and I’m happy that Sammie would be willing to go out on a limb to champion that effort,” Frantom said.
Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.