Augusta Economy

More News | Fort Gordon | Plant Vogtle | Savannah River Site | Editor

Progress on Master Plan projects lags

  • Follow Local Business

Three years into the 2009 Master Plan for portions of Augusta and North Augusta, most of the progress involves projects that were under way before the plan was written.

Back | Next
Volunteers Mike Williams (left) and Mike Gardner mow the lawn behind homes being renovated in Harrisburg, where projects focus on fostering home ownership in the area.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Volunteers Mike Williams (left) and Mike Gardner mow the lawn behind homes being renovated in Harrisburg, where projects focus on fostering home ownership in the area.

Projects included that were already in the planning stages are the Kroc Center, Judicial Center, East Central Georgia Regional Library, Sutherland Mill, Underwood Homes Redevelopment, Laney-Walker residential development, Trade Exhibit and Event Center and the St. Sebastian Way Roadway.

Camille Price, the executive director of Augusta Tomorrow, which oversees the 2009 Master Plan, acknowledged in an e-mail that these projects “were in the early planning stages, but not yet built when the Master Plan was unveiled in February 2009.”

She said Boston-based Icon Architecture Inc., which completed the plan costing $286,000, included these projects in the list because they “were considered so important to the urban core.”

Price said several of the plan’s remaining projects have been started, and some completed, since the plan was unveiled. They include the Wheeler Road gateway improvements, Sand Bar Ferry gateway improvements and Harrisburg’s Turn Back the Block housing renovation project.

Most projects are still in the planning stages.

“It takes much pre-work before a project is considered viable, and the projects in the Master Plan are large and complicated, requiring thoughtful and comprehensive analysis before pre-development conversations can begin,” Price said. “There is activity happening in each of the downtown districts that are in the assessment stage of development.”

THE 2009 MASTER Plan divided downtown Augusta and North Augusta into seven districts. “Key market creation projects” were also identified.

There’s no set timetable for completing the projects. Price said Icon did not recommend a timetable because each city and project are different, making it difficult to predict which projects should come before others.

Price also said she couldn’t estimate the overall cost to complete the Master Plan because she didn’t have proposed amounts for all of the projects, but the estimated cost for the Market Creation projects is more than $1.5 billion.

There are 68 projects in the 2009 Master Plan.

Though projects have been proposed, there’s a possibility some might not come to fruition. Of the 20 “first priority” projects in the 1982 master plan, seven were not completed in the plan, which covered two decades.

“Because this is a plan, and it’s not set in stone, there may very well be, over the years, projects that don’t work anymore for the city center, and additional projects that will happen that we will absolutely have to have,” Price said.

CHATTANOOGA, TENN., HAS become a model for cities nationwide interested in learning how to successfully execute a long-term plan. A city comes every month to visit, said Kim White, the president and CEO of River City Co., an organization created in 1986 to focus on achieving the Tennessee Riverpark Master Plan’s goals of revitalizing downtown and reconnecting downtown to the river.

After starting its master plan in 1986, Chattanooga opened a $45 million aquarium in 1992. This 25-year plan was completed, and five years ago the city started another plan for its waterfront, which has since been finished.

White said the key to Chattanooga’s success has been having an organization with employees focused solely on completing the master plan. River City Co. was funded by $12 million from foundations.

“Early on, the community identified the fact that unless someone was tasked with making that plan become a reality, it wouldn’t. Downtown redevelopment is a long process. It’s not easy. Unless there is one organization with that being their sole job ... we bring groups together to figure out how we can pull together to make these things happen,” White said.

AUGUSTA’S 2009 MASTER Plan called for a development coordinator to be appointed, but Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Price said funding is not available for this position.

The development coordinator would be a city employee, unless the position was contracted out, Copenhaver said.

“I think it would be very helpful to do in the future,” Copenhaver said. “It’s just a question of when you have budget issues with the city, as we do right now, making that a priority. That’s got to come from the will of the commission to do that.”

John Shields, owner of Shields Design LLC and formerly of Icon Architecture Inc., still recommends the development coordinator and said Columbus, Ohio, and Chattanooga have achieved success by having one.

While Augusta Tomorrow has had some “measured success” using volunteers, Price is only one person trying to lead many volunteers in complex projects, Shields said.

“I think Augusta would be well-advised to look into investing in a downtown development corporation, somebody that’s going to make projects happen,” Shields said.

THE ECONOMY WILL also play a role in the success of a master plan, White said. Even with its success, she said, Chattanooga has had difficulty in the past three years getting funding for downtown housing.

Monty Osteen, co-chairman of the Westobou Crossing and Higher Education District and former president of Augusta Tomorrow, said the condition of the financial market has slowed progress on financing projects for the 2009 Master Plan. Osteen also worked on the 1982 plan.

“We had a much more viable economic recovery going on from 1982 to 1984 than we do now,” Osteen said.

Still, he’s optimistic about potential developers with the consolidation of Georgia Health Sciences University and Augusta State University.

WESTOBOU CROSSING AND HIGHER EDUCATION DISTRICT

• Completed a property assessment on each tract of land on both sides of the river to provide report for potential developers. Determined ownership and whether property owner is willing to sell.

• Completed analysis of Savannah River and lake in North Augusta.

• Working on developer package, which describes all aspects of the district, such as available financing and incentives and market analysis, to attract potential developers. Determining how to integrate Fort Discovery building, which is now vacant, into plans.

• Plan to have a final developer package by fall or earlier. Will soon start marketing the Westobou Crossing district.

SAND BAR FERRY DISTRICT: LEGACY AT WALTON OAKS

• Phase I of the mixed-income housing development for residents 55 and older rented out all 75 available units by Dec. 31.

• Phase II, designated for families, is almost finished, bringing the project to 50 percent completion with 150 units built. Walton Oaks will obtain certificate of occupancy by July 1. Residents will be able to move in soon after.

• Phases III and IV also planned. Developers anticipate the 300-unit development could “easily take another three years” to complete. In the next few weeks, Walton Communities plans to submit a request for housing tax credits from the state to help secure financing from private sources.

• The biggest issue for future development in Sand Bar Ferry is flooding. The city has agreed to resolve the problem.

HARRISBURG DISTRICT

• Raised nearly $40,000 in private funds for Harrisburg Blueprints project, which was completed by the Georgia Conservancy with help from Georgia Tech graduate students in February. Students determined ways the community could implement projects in the Master Plan in Harrisburg.

• Turn Back the Block project was created in 2010 to foster more home ownership. Nine homes on Broad Street and the corner of Battle Row and Metcalf Street are available for renovation and conversion from duplexes into single-family homes. Two Saturdays each month, local volunteers work on renovations during “block parties.” One home has been sold, and work on a second home is ongoing. Project relies on private donations of materials.

• Will hold Second Annual Blue Jean Ball in January to raise funds for Turn Back the Block.

• Held Clean & Green event, in which nearly 100 volunteers cleaned up trash in Harrisburg.

• Working with others in community on redevelopment of 20 acres in 15th Street area.

• Kroc Center completed.

LANEY-WALKER/BETHLEHEM DISTRICT

• Groundbreaking for Twiggs Circle, 16 one-story duplexes and eight single-family homes for seniors, could take place in August or September.

• Twelve homes completed and nine have been sold on Pine Street.

• Committee promotes work being done in the Laney-Walker-Bethlehem area.

• Judicial Center completed.

NORTH AUGUSTA DISTRICT

• City has closed on 4.2 acres between Fifth Street bridge and Gordon Highway

• City officials are reviewing business development codes in the Georgia Avenue area to ensure they promote redevelopment

• Recruiting restaurants and other businesses to downtown corridor

DOWNTOWN CORE DISTRICT

• Researching proposed performing arts center. The committee has spoken with local arts groups and has visited performing arts centers in Durham, N.C., and Greenville, S.C.

• TEE Center nearing completion.

MEDICAL/HEALTH SCIENCES DISTRICT

• St. Sebastian Way completed. Sutherland Mill renovated.

• Meeting with anchor tenants in the medical community and identifying their needs.

• Researching future economic development opportunities for businesses that cater to the medical industry. These businesses would be located in the future St. Sebastian Health Sciences Park.

GATEWAYS AND CORRIDORS

• Team appointed to maintain upkeep of local roadways. Started with Wheeler Road, the second most heavily traveled road in Augusta, planting new trees, shrubs and grass in all of the medians between Interstate 520 and Interstate 20.

• Worked with Convention and Visitors Bureau and Community Foundation to establish fund for businesses and individuals to get a tax deduction for donating. Also working on beautification of St. Sebastian Way.

MORE PLANS

• Augusta commissioners were so impressed with the 2009 Master Plan that they wanted a plan for the remaining areas of Richmond County. The Augusta Sustainable Development Agenda, completed in December 2010, was developed by Shields Design LLC.

• The $500,000 plan detailed a large-scale, high-level planning strategy for growth and sustainable development throughout Augusta for the next 20 years.

• The plan identified a priority development corridor, which runs down 15th Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Deans Bridge Road and down to Rocky Creek and the old Regency Mall. The city has received a $1.8 million joint grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Highway Administration to pursue more detailed planning for this corridor.

• The city is in the process of procuring a consultant to do the follow-up planning work. John Stout has been hired as project manager for the grant project.

• On Tuesday, the Augusta Commission’s administrative services committee will approve the award of a contract to Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh and Associates in the amount of $1.065 million, plus reimbursable expenses not to exceed $75,000 (total $1.140 million), to complete planning initiatives under the Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program.

Sources: Source: Implementation Team Chairs and Co-Chairs for 2009 Master Plan; Paul T. DeCamp Jr., deputy director for planning and construction for the Augusta Planning and Development Department; John Shields, owner of Shields Design LLC and formerly of Icon Architecture Inc.

MORE PLANS

• Augusta commissioners were so impressed with the 2009 Master Plan that they wanted a plan for the remaining areas of Richmond County. The Augusta Sustainable Development Agenda, completed in December 2010, was developed by Shields Design LLC.

• The $500,000 plan detailed a large-scale, high-level planning strategy for growth and sustainable development throughout Augusta for the next 20 years.

• The plan identified a priority development corridor, which runs down 15th Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Deans Bridge Road and down to Rocky Creek and the old Regency Mall. The city has received a $1.8 million joint grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Highway Administration to pursue more detailed planning for this corridor.

• The city is in the process of procuring a consultant to do the follow-up planning work. John Stout has been hired as project manager for the grant project.

• On Tuesday, the Augusta Commission’s administrative services committee will approve the award of a contract to Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh and Associates in the amount of $1.065 million, plus reimbursable expenses not to exceed $75,000 (total $1.140 million), to complete planning initiatives under the Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program.

Source: Paul T. DeCamp Jr., deputy director for planning and construction for the Augusta Planning and Development Department; John Shields, owner of Shields Design LLC and formerly of Icon Architecture Inc.

Comments (11) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
countyman
19507
Points
countyman 05/27/12 - 02:47 am
1
0
I'm hoping the developer who

I'm hoping the developer who purchased Discovery Plaza(Fort Discovery) can attract some type of large company... Four to six hundred additonal people working, shopping, and dining downtown everyday would be tremendous...Then you can build new housing for the people who prefer biking/walking to work..

my.voice
4697
Points
my.voice 05/27/12 - 06:56 am
3
1
Do you hear that flushing

Do you hear that flushing sound? That's $286,000 being flushed down the toilet into Boston's economy.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/27/12 - 08:26 am
5
1
I'll Give Joe Bowles Credit

The Mayor Pro Tem was the first official to note the stupidity of the study. What a waste of money. Doesn't everyone realize Augusta has $100 million tied up in the white elephant TEE-Laney Walker project? There is no money.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 05/27/12 - 09:32 am
0
0
how does deke's 100-thousand

how does deke's 100-thousand dollar techhelp thang fit into the 2009 master's plans?

countyman
19507
Points
countyman 05/27/12 - 09:59 am
0
1
Your white elephant

Your white elephant project(TEE Center) was voted for by the citizens of Richmond County.. The TEE Center is being paid for by sales tax, and the Laney Walker/Bethlehem funds are coming from tourist/visitors....

The Augusta/North Augusta and Richmond County master plans combined equal around $786,000... The city received a $1.8 million grant due to the Master plan... The city already made it's investment back, and you have to spend money in order to attract money...

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 05/27/12 - 12:08 pm
4
0
Voters Only Approved $17 million

Let's not forget the voters only approved $17 million for the TEE center. The parking garage on the Marriott property cost that much. But, goodness, we all know there are few events scheduled. There is nothing to debate now about the lack of wisdom behind the TEE.

dichotomy
31619
Points
dichotomy 05/27/12 - 08:38 pm
2
0
Well "south of Spirit Creek"

Well "south of Spirit Creek" folks. If you read the article you will see they have agendas, strategies, plans to complete planning initiatives, plans to do detailed planning, and plans to do follow up planning.......NONE OF WHICH INCLUDE YOU FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS. ONLY YOUR TAX MONEY. Apparently the only "explosive growth" the Planning and Zoning folks talked about when they rezoned your land 12 years ago was the EXPLOSIVE GROWTH in your property taxes. They are talking plans going out 20 more years and you south enders ain't gettin' doodley squat except your tax bill.

mosovich
757
Points
mosovich 05/28/12 - 11:11 pm
1
0
Wow..

Sure am glad I'm no longer and Augusta tax payer, my head would explode..

Gage Creed
16437
Points
Gage Creed 05/29/12 - 04:12 pm
1
0
A borrowed

A borrowed Pelosi-ism.....you've got to spend it, to know what's in it!

I wonder where that sales tax money magically appears from?

Little Lamb
44796
Points
Little Lamb 05/29/12 - 04:18 pm
1
0
NO

Vote NO! on the T-SPLOST referendum. It will add another 1% to the sales tax. It is a new tax, not merely an extension.

eb97
835
Points
eb97 05/30/12 - 05:08 pm
0
0
NO

I agree with LL, my vote will be NO!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Coroner granted funds to offset transportation costs

The Richmond County Coroner's Office will get some relief now that it can access funds collected through a partnership with Georgia Regents Medical Center.
Search Augusta jobs