Since May, an Alabama-based retail consultant has been studying Augusta’s urban core and recruiting potential retailers at shows.
Retail Strategies LLC has been talking up Augusta at International Council of Shopping Center shows in Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta and Orlando, which has produced a “lengthy” list of retail prospects, according to the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta.
Executive Director Margaret Woodard told the authority’s board Wednesday that she is working with an unnamed developer on a potential residential-commercial building.
The authority signed a three-year, $60,000 contract with Retail Strategies in May. Half of the contract will be funded through pledges. It was reported Wednesday that the authority has raised $25,000 of the $30,000 private portion.
Woodard said the board is awaiting the reports and a retail committee will meet in March to study the results.
“They’re really ahead of the game. The first year was supposed to be all reporting and they have completed that,” Woodard said. “And they are already actively representing Augusta to possible retailers.”
Retail Strategies has been conducting demographic research, and preparing an analysis of Augusta compared to peer cities within a five-hour drive. The most important element will be the gap analysis, Woodard said, which would identify where Augusta is lacking.
In other business, the board passed its second consecutive annual budget with a deficit. The 2014 budget calls for $177,000 in income and $216,000 in expenses.
Authority chairman Cameron Nixon said there are “irons in the fire” that should generate income, and also said there are developers fees available if the authority could be a part of bond issues.
Woodard said the drop in income partially stems from the dissolution of CADI. “That hurt us somewhat, and also years ago, we were cut $25,000 from our budget,” she explained.
Nixon said there is enough money in reserves to cover the deficit.