A controversial plan to replace the James Brown Arena downtown with a new arena at the vacant Regency Mall site is being discussed this afternoon at the Augusta Commission.
Opponents hope the plan gets at least the seven votes as a motion to reject it did two weeks ago, before Commissioner Marion Williams returned it to a committee agenda.
Mayor Hardie Davis, who brought it to mall owner Cardinal Management, voiced support for the plan. Cardinal wants the city to re-asphalt, and install lighting, landscaping and drainage at the mall’s large parking lot, and reduce a 10-year property tax abatement to five years.
The last version of Cardinal’s offer, negotiated by Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority attorney Ed Enoch, included those terms, plus gives Cardinal exclusive rights to develop all but the 10 acres where Augusta will build a 12,000- to 15,000-seat arena, and requires the city pay all insurance, fees and taxes not abated.
“This body inserted itself into the process” Davis said of a Nov. 28 deadline set by the commission.
Commissioner Ben Hasan said Augusta “missed a golden opportunity” but the city can’t negotiate for the Coliseum Authority.
The city has no designated funding source for the arena, estimated at $120 million, and other expenses associated with the development.
Former commissioner Moses Todd, one of several former commissioners in favor of building at Regency, spoke about the proposal during the regular 2 p.m. commission meeting.