Taking shape

Work begins on projects in Master Plan

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Boone Knox (from left); Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver; Kroc Center Administrator Todd Mason; Salvation Army Commissioner Max Feener, Salvation Army divisional commander, Maj. William Mockabee; and other dignitaries break ground on the Kroc Center. The facility is expected to be a catalyst for nearby small businesses in Harrisburg.
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Westobou River Crossing  Special
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Westobou River Crossing

Augusta Judicial Center. Check.

TEE Center. Check.

Major pieces of the downtown Augusta and North Augusta master plan, now a year old, are under way , but much of the implementation of the 20-year master plan is still largely a behind-the-scenes endeavor.

“A lot of good things are happening, and a lot of good people are involved,” said Dennis Skelley,  the  president of Augusta Tomorrow, which spearheaded the plan’s development and implementation. “Next year, we’ll have even more to report.”

Skelley said the 200-page plan isn’t sitting on a shelf. Imp­lementation teams have been working on the plan’s  ideas  since the summer.
The plan focuses on nine “market creation districts” that could revitalize neighborhoods in both cities.

The districts are clusters of projects that would create a destination attraction and be a catalyst for other development.

“It is a long- range plan,” said John Shields, one of the writers of the plan. “The trick now is to find the pieces that they can get done early to keep momentum going.”

Shields, who is developing a second master plan that involves the rest of Richmond County, said he is pleased about how the cities are moving on  the first plan.

“I think they are following the recommendations rather closely,” Shields said. “It has gone well in the point of view of volun­teer efforts … I wish the city would figure out a way to staff the implementation of this.”

Augusta Tomorrow spent $275,000 on the plan. The Augusta Comm­ission chipped in $95,000 of that  North Augusta gave $31,000.

 The Boston  consulting firm ICON Architecture Inc. conceived of an estimated $1.5 billion in potential development projects for Augusta and North Augusta. Many of the projects involve development along the river and the Augusta Canal as resources that have been under used.

North Augusta has been busy buying land, said Mayor Lark Jones. The city acquired property near the bridge on U.S. Highway 1  for $1 million.

That land was identified in the master plan as being part of a residential-commercial development with  a pedestrian bridge spanning the river.

“Now we’re looking for a buyer, or someone to develop it in accordance with the master plan,” Jones said. “There are still some properties down there that we don’t own or control. We’re hoping that capitalism and free enterprise … will take over if we can get somebody to put a hotel right down there on the river .”

 Harrisburg’ s master plan team is forming a non profit corporation to promote home ownership, said Clay Boardman, the  chairman of the Harrisburg team for Augusta Tomorrow.

“(It) will involve engaging hundreds of volunteers to assist in new construction and rehabilitation of existing housing stock,” Boardman said. “Our first house to rehab is already in our hands with the prospect of many more in the near future.”

Residential development is one of the key ideas for Harris­burg, especially along the canal.

The $100 million Salvation Army Kroc Center is expected to  be a catalyst for nearby small businesses , Skelley said.

He  said members of Augusta Tomorrow have  met the local legislative delegation.

“We will probably need assistance from the state for the ability to be able to infuse the kind of capital that would be required to do something that grandiose,” he said.

The state was able to help the city of Sav­an­nah with its river front projects, he said, so assistance for Augusta in terms of grants and earmarks should be doable.

“Timing is everything , and right now the state is not real flush. I wouldn’t look to see too much opportunity in this budget cycle,” Skelley said.

WESTOBOU RIVER CROSSING


The big idea: Tie Augusta and North Augusta together with a waterfront development spanning the Savannah River; turn the Fifth Street bridge into a pedestrian bridge; install fishing center at Hamburg Brick Pond.

Cost: $90 million private, $25 million public

The latest:

- North Augusta purchased property along the Savannah River for $1 million and is now seeking developers.
- Improvement completed to Gordon Highway interchange

HARRISBURG CANAL VILLAGE


The big idea: Give Harrisburg a new image and identity with a mixed-use retail center; build residential units along the First Level Canal

Cost: $100 million private, $25 million public

The latest:

- Construction is under way for the $100 million Salvation Army Kroc Center.
- The implementation team is starting a nonprofit corporation to rehabilitate houses.

WESTOBOU ARTS CENTER


The big idea: Redevelop vacant riverfront land into an arts and entertainment center

Cost: $80 million private, $30 million public

The latest:

- Development of the TEE Center has resumed.
- Hyatt Place hotel is back in the design phase.
- Restoration of the Miller Theatre is under examination by consultants.

Comments (35) Add comment
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Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 02/07/10 - 01:55 am
0
0
Actually these are all

Actually these are all projects that were on the drawing board BEFORE there ever was a masterplan.

corgimom
38385
Points
corgimom 02/07/10 - 07:32 am
0
0
The 5th St bridge a

The 5th St bridge a pedestrian bridge? Ok. But what is the master plan for all the "activities" that take place around it?

disssman
6
Points
disssman 02/07/10 - 07:37 am
0
0
Didn't know the Miller or the

Didn't know the Miller or the Hyatt project were considered riverfront land. In any event we need to stop the welfare people from getting money and turn that money over to Corporate welfare where it is terribly needed. I wonder who funds Augusta Tomorrow? I see where they contributed 275K, and the Commissioners contributed 95K and I thought I saw in the Cuty budget the AT was funded by the commissioners. So if we do fund AT then we (taxpayers) paid 370K for the study in reality. And of course this study dosen't consider the 1/2 million for the other study making the news. Just how many corporate studys are there in Augusta? Maybe the AC could do a story about studys in Augusta or we could rebrand the city as the study capitol of america.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 02/07/10 - 07:50 am
0
0
A bold and momentous plan!

A bold and momentous plan! The cities are well beyond the first steps with long range goals. How exciting and out of character for the stop and go efforts that have proceeded this master plan. The riverfront and surrounding areas now have a much improved chance of reaching their beautiful potential. This is the type of leadership Augusta has been missing all it's life.

justus4
113
Points
justus4 02/07/10 - 08:10 am
0
0
Not one person of color
Unpublished

Not one person of color ANYWHERE to be found in that pic, and that's what will be the exact picture when it is built. It will only benefit particular citizens and particular communities. The TEE scheme is an example of the minority commissioners failure to comprehend the slippery individuals who steer such projects away from their community, but get them to vote against their own best interests. How sad.... and who will be managing the parking garage? Maybe one of those approached by U know who.

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 02/07/10 - 08:30 am
0
0
Good point justus4

Good point justus4

seenitB4
97407
Points
seenitB4 02/07/10 - 08:31 am
0
0
GGGGEEEEZZZ justus,,you never

GGGGEEEEZZZ justus,,you never fail to amuse us..Should we paint 1 black to make U happy..we don't have a white history month,,wwwwaaah,,let's just get over the pc & get on with common sense..

Brad Owens
4906
Points
Brad Owens 02/07/10 - 08:42 am
0
0
I like the idea of having a

I like the idea of having a plan and seeing it through. I think these ideas are great but in the economy today, I would hope that our elected officials would shy away from trying to borrow us into growth. I see a need for several 100million in 'private' dollars to see these plans through. I don see that happening for a while but the Kroc Center is awesome! I didn't think they would ever reach the 40million but they did. This will help develope the mill too I bet.

peonynut
2
Points
peonynut 02/07/10 - 08:50 am
0
0
Just what North Augusta needs

Just what North Augusta needs is a bridge that Augusta's criminals can walk across to do their dirty work. How North Augusta ever thought getting in bed, so-to-speak, with a group of people that can't even account for their own money is beyond me. Speaking of criminals; why would anyone in their right minds want to frequent any place on the Augusta side of the river? They run the risk of being robbed or worse; losing their lives.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 02/07/10 - 09:08 am
0
0
Ummm, "Master Plan?" As

Ummm, "Master Plan?" As someone who grew up in the Cold War era, that conjures visions of "Five Year Plans" so beloved of the Soviet era. I suspect this to be pretty much the same; as one poster noted, most of these projects were in being before the MP; and as 'dissman' pointed out, there seems to be a lot of tax money involved and private ... ? Not so much- very much like the old USSR. If a project is economically viable, there will be private funding for it; if not, it will be another Golf Gardens.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 09:17 am
0
0
It is interesting to see

It is interesting to see people take bits of information and twist it into some weird interpretation. First, Augusta Tomorrow was created as a public-private partnership to address the redevelopment needs of Downtown Augusta. At the time (1982) the City paid 1/2 of the organizational costs with the private sector paying the other half. With consolidation the City kept reducing its contribution until today the City pays 0%/ (None) of its funding. Each member of AT pays over $6,000 annually for the privilege of working free. On the updated study the cities of Augusta and North Augusta paid approximately 50% of its cost while private citizens and organizations paid the other half. See, the $6,000 membership fee is only the beginning of what AT member’s fund. The statement about the skin tone of those participating and/or benefiting is so sophomoric it doesn't deserve answering. I have never seen anyone denied participation in any city-wide effort in decades because they had a good sun tan. If Justus4 wants to kick in $6,000 a year, is the head of his organization and doesn't have a criminal record or a history of debt manipulation I will be glad to have AT forwarded to him a membership application. There are only three colors I ever hear discussed; GREEN for money, RED for having bad financial results and BLACK for being profitable. I suppose WHITE could be used for "nobody knows" what the financial status is. True economic development is color, gender, religious and physically-challenged blind. Only the dim-witted doesn’t attempt to put together the best possible resources when being challenged.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 09:26 am
0
0
Oh by the way, you have heard

Oh by the way, you have heard of a number of these projects previously because they have been discussed by many groups including Augusta Tomorrow over the years. The 1982 Master Plan was over 90% implemented and produced over a billion dollars in economic development with more that 50% of that being from the private sector. What a Master Plan accomplishes if it is implemented successfully is to help a community to focus on its needs now and in the future (the current plan is a 20-25 year Plan) and to make adjustments as appropriate. This eliminates most duplication and insures the best use of resources. Dozens of citizens from Augusta & North Augusta participated in developing this plan and all demographics of the community were represented.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 02/07/10 - 09:30 am
0
0
I have to agree with

I have to agree with peonynut...what in the world is NA thinking of?!....please keep a proper distance from Augusta like "the River" the element that will invade us over here is not wanted.

corgimom
38385
Points
corgimom 02/07/10 - 09:57 am
0
0
I know many share this

I know many share this viewpoint- these local, home-grown business owners- whose main focus is "economic development"- are the same ones that have gotten Augusta into the mess it's in. And if they keep focusing on their model that doesn't work- results don't lie- it's going to get worse, not better. There are lots of hotels in Newark NJ, Detroit, Oakland, CA- I could list many- and who wants to go to them? Chasing "economic development" of low-paying, low-level service jobs is distastrous to any city. All these "leaders" do is waste money on studies that talk about "probabilities" of jobs. Probabilities aren't worth anything. I might win the lottery, too, because there's a probability that I might. That Master Plan is TWENTY YEARS OLD and Augusta has greatly changed in that 20 years, along with the American economy- and it's not ever going back to the way it was 20 years ago. Doesn't anyone in A-RC government realize that?

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 10:04 am
0
0
I hate to be the one to tell

I hate to be the one to tell you this 'bettyboop', but the river that once was a divider between Augusta & North Augusta is now seen as a connector -- the Main Street between the two communities -- if movement between both communities were to be halted it would hurt both but be devastating to North Augusta -- as a resident of North Augusta long ago for 15 years l learned very quickly the economic advantages of Augusta to North Augusta -- so hold your nose and come on over -- our futures are solidly tied together.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 10:15 am
0
0
Corgimon -- clean off your

Corgimon -- clean off your spectacles and read it one more time -- the 1982 Master Plan was over 90% accomplished with greater than a billion dollars in development resulting including what has been done on the riverfront -- like it or not this has significantly influenced what is being done in North Augusta -- now this is the tough part -- the 2009 Master Plan where Augusta & North Augusta joined together on is not 20 years old -- it is brand new and the subject of the current newspaper article -- this isn't all about hotels and lofty promises -- this is about brick & mortar projects and increased revenue from visitors coming into our area and spending money, improvement in quality of life opportunities, bio-tech research, health science, education, etc. -- read the Master Plan -- I think you will find it quite interesting.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 02/07/10 - 10:28 am
0
0
wiz you may be right ...but I

wiz you may be right ...but I still think NA would be the loser...you can't take a well run City and connect it with a dysfunctional one and come out ahead.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 02/07/10 - 10:36 am
0
0
Anyone who believes that each

Anyone who believes that each member of AT pays over $6,000 annually for the privilege of working free" needs to be committed to MCG. They are the ones would believe that a politician will spend $250,000 to get a $12000 a year position. The politicians, developers and contractors are "in bed together" and it ain't a "holy marriage". It is a business venture for their mutual wealth. The politicians use tax money to by land, pay for any studies and infrastructure. Developers and contractors build buildings. And they all get rich. They don't steal all of the money, No, even the "mafia" settles for "point on the dollars". Just enough to "wet their beaks". Five percent or ten percent of "billions of dollars" of construction has made fortunes in Augusta. The "skyline may change" but the "heart of Augusta" will stay the same. Progress could be great, but this is more of the same. If these, "heart of gold" individuals sincerely cared about Augusta's future they would have removed the railroad "switch yards" from the middle of town. You can't get into or out of town without a RR crossing. What if Augusta had a "Graniteville Disaster"? Not to mention that the 13th Street Bridge is the only access to downtown without a visit to a ghetto.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 02/07/10 - 10:40 am
0
0
justus4, hyphenated

justus4, hyphenated "citizens" are ALWAYS second tier "citizens" ....by choice. Join the effort and let's build a community of first tier citizens who choose to live here and contribute to the good of all.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 02/07/10 - 10:55 am
0
0
deekster, you have a valid

deekster, you have a valid point, but with a touch of cynicism. Movers and shakers are ALWAYS involved with other movers and shakers. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it looks like the community gets the shaft. The master plan, with the open support of both city governments, seems to fall into the first category. The goals are announced in advance and the flexible parts of the plan are everywhere. I'm glad there are cautious and cynical citizens keeping an eye on the plan, it helps keep investors focused.

dichotomy
37448
Points
dichotomy 02/07/10 - 11:10 am
0
0
TEE Center, North Augusta,

TEE Center, North Augusta, 5th street bridge, Harrisburg, the canal, arts center. Do you think that with all of this planning and tax money that the powers that be could encourage someone to build a decent grocery store in south Richmond county. I know we are not on the Master Plan. We only get on the land tax value increase plan and gouge for trash pickup plan. But you spend a lot of our tax money so a little help down south please. Hey Jimmy Smith, do you attend any of these planning meetings or do you just make the ones where they raise our taxes and increase our trash fees?

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 11:18 am
0
0
'Deeketer' -- I hate to be

'Deeketer' -- I hate to be the one to burst your bubble but as a long-term member of Augusta Tomorrow I not only write a minimum monthly check that exceeds $6,000 a year but I like the other members contribute significantly to the economic developments projects the organization supports whether there is a personal benefit or not -- where do you think a significant amount of the money for the Kroc Center comes from-I have personally donated land to the City that was necessary to complete a project where I had no direct return -- sorry, but your cynicisms may apply to some groups but in my 15 years with AT I have only seen individuals where the benefit to them was participating in the good that came to all-- of course there are exceptions but I have NEVER seen the FIRST project where the sole purpose was to benefit a member of AT.

thewiz0oz
9
Points
thewiz0oz 02/07/10 - 11:27 am
0
0
'Dichotomy' -- You would be

'Dichotomy' -- You would be surprised at the amount of discussion that has gone on over the years by Downtown development groups on what can be done in South Augusta -- there is a guanine feeling that it is not acceptable for part of the City to be successful without working to help the total community -- over the years I and others have participated in efforts to utilize the old Regency Mall property -- have participated in Pride & Progress meetings -- attended the current Master Plan meetings for South Richmond County -- and personally invested in a major project 10 years ago that just didn't work -- South Augusta is where a lot of future development will go and I am aware of at least one bank that has a keen interest in what goes on there -- it is my belief that it is essential for a community to have a healthy center core to be healthy elsewhere -- there is a lot to be done but no part of the city is being overlooked.

eachoneteachone
0
Points
eachoneteachone 02/07/10 - 11:39 am
0
0
The idea of non propits

The idea of non propits rehabing houses.......I am not so sure that the houses will be given to undesirable people. Harrisburg is already filled with riff raff.

eachoneteachone
0
Points
eachoneteachone 02/07/10 - 11:43 am
0
0
Harrisburg housing stock is

Harrisburg housing stock is mostly cottages and bungalows with mostly street parking. Dignified people should be in these houses and not people who "pile up" in these small dwellings. The last thing that Harrisburg needs is a bigger population of people. It needs to be thinned out now!~

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 02/07/10 - 11:46 am
0
0
Eachoneteachone, dignified

Eachoneteachone, dignified people will be in those houses. And only one side of Harrisburg needs revitilization. I think you need to see the side of Harrisburg facing the Hill. Nice lawns and beautiful houses.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 02/07/10 - 12:35 pm
0
0
Peoynut and Bettyboop

Peoynut and Bettyboop please... How many murders or drive bys in 2009 happen in West Augusta, Hephzibah, and Blythe compared to North Augusta? Because North Augusta had drive bys and murders last year. Didn't Aiken county have 15-16 murders in 2009. Didn't Aiken county have three murders in four days last year? Isn't Bradleyville road located in North Augusta? When you point a finger three fingers are pointing back at you. Richmond county unemployment is lower than Aiken county. Richmond county unemployment is lower than the state and national average. The CSRA needs every county to do well.

Richmond county will outperform the the whole state of GA in 2010.

Augusta will do better, though, sheltered from the worst of the recession moreso than the rest of Georgia. “I think Augusta has a bright future. For a number of reasons, we’re expecting the state to lag behind. Augusta should outperform the state as a whole,” Mr. Sumichrast said.
http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/latest/lat_704619.shtml?v=1636

dichotomy
37448
Points
dichotomy 02/07/10 - 12:09 pm
0
0
thewizOoz.... I'm not talking

thewizOoz.... I'm not talking about South Augusta and the Regency Mall problem. I am talking about South Richmond County. You know, where they rezoned 7000 acres of vacant land to Residential, raised our taxes on the empty land, all with the prospect of "development" which never came and has no prospect of coming. But the taxes didn't go down. We can't even get a decent grocery store out this way. We get little or no services except for the mandatory, way overpriced trash collection. It takes the police, fire, and ambulance 20 minutes or more to respond to a call. and the roads and ditches are not maintained. But we've got a boatload of overtaxed prime residential property for sale out here just waiting for the "boom". I just wish I could sell it and the house for the taxed value. I'd be in CC in a heartbeat where they have a Publix on every corner.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 02/07/10 - 12:17 pm
0
0
dichotomy. Grovetown and

dichotomy. Grovetown and Harlem don't have a publix. I think Evans has two and Martinez one. Hephzibah and Blythe don't have enough population yet for big grocery stores. Hephzibah city limits are 8,000 and Blythe is 1,000. South Richmond county has to add more population first. The NSA opens 2010. Plant Vogtle workforce is continuing to grow. Alot of those people are moving to South richmond county, Hephzibah, and Blythe. There is new retail coming to South Augusta but not South richmond county, Hephzibah, or Blythe yet. A 7,000 sq. ft. retail center is coming btw windsor spring elem and woodlake. The Colony Plaza off windsor spring/peach orchard is adding about 4-5 acres of new development.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 02/07/10 - 12:53 pm
0
0
JUstus, In order to join the

JUstus, In order to join the picture with "u know who" u have to poney up with the money. Write the check and I am sure u could be in the picture with "u know who" but I bet U do not have the money. U just gripe about everything if an AA is not there. Get something better to do.

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