Augusta Economy

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Downtown Augusta seeks tipping point to revitalization

Steps to recovery

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For more than two decades, government and businesses have reinvested in downtown Augusta. Still, the tipping point for revitalization – at which market forces alone drive redevelopment – has remained elusive.

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There are fewer vacancies on upper Broad Street. One strategy that has helped is Artists Row, which begins at 10th and Broad.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
There are fewer vacancies on upper Broad Street. One strategy that has helped is Artists Row, which begins at 10th and Broad.

Though a new convention center and downtown streetlights could help the effort, at least one measure of Augusta’s vitality so far disappoints.

The number of downtown businesses dropped 27 percent over the past decade, more than a third of that before the recession.

The figures come from an analysis by The Augusta Chronicle of business licenses issued from 2001 to 2010. The Chronicle separated 1,121 downtown businesses from more than 20,000 electronic records provided by the county license and inspection department and identified the 4,522 licenses that had been issued to them for the decade. The survey included addresses from Greene Street to the Savannah River and from Fifth to 13th streets.

The analysis showed that the number of business licenses issued downtown dropped every year but one, falling from 499 in 2001 to 443 in 2007. By 2010, license issuance had fallen to 362. The number of addresses where the downtown businesses were situated remained stable for most of the decade, but fell during the recession, for a 14 percent loss overall.

Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta, challenged the results.

“You have to look at the entire district. We don’t do just Broad; we do Ellis, Greene, Telfair and Laney-Walker,” she said. “We’re seeing a trend of a net gain of 60 to 70 businesses opening every year since 2005.”

Asked whether the results for downtown alone surprised her, Woodard said, “I can see it, in a way.”

Asked whether Augusta revitalization has reached a tipping point yet, she said, “No, we have not.”

Though the number of downtown businesses has not grown, office and residential renovations have, and that is the trend Woodard said she finds encouraging.

In recent years, businesses such as Toole Engineering, ESi, Bees Knees and Soy Noodle House have expanded and in some cases renovated, she said. Two years ago, the Emporium housed an antiques business before it underwent a $3 million renovation. The project added nine loft apartments that are now occupied, even though the retail space below remains vacant.

Woodard said residential growth is what will bring revitalization to the tipping point. The effort seems to have traction. Downtown apartments have waiting lists, she said. All nine of the Emporium’s units rented for above-market rates within 11 weeks, she said.

“(The tipping point) will be getting people living downtown. We’ll keep (homing) in on that,” she said. “It brings upper-end retail, better services, a UPS store.”

Steps to recovery

A 2005 Brookings Institution study, though, said downtown revitalizations are more typically based on redeveloping a walking entertainment district, followed by residential development.

“Urban entertainment creates a ‘there there,’ the initial reason people want to live downtown,” the study said. “It is followed by rental housing, where young urban pioneers come for a unique lifestyle not available in the suburbs.”

The study, “Turning Around Downtown: Twelve Steps to Revitalization,” said revitalized cities have created entertainment districts by attracting or developing arenas, performing arts centers, sports stadiums, megaplex theaters, restaurants, specialty retail districts, festivals and arts venues.

Rental housing follows that effort, then for-sale housing, retail, and finally, office employment. For-sale housing typically appears within six to 10 years after the entertainment district is initiated, the study said.

Christopher Leinberger, a senior fellow in the Brookings Institu­tion’s Metropolitan Policy Pro­gram and the study’s author, said research since 2005 shows it’s OK to emphasize certain steps, such as residential development, out of order.

“It was generally the case that urban entertainment came first, but sometimes people are just so confident in downtown they skip the earlier steps,” he said.

Asked whether it is normal for the number of businesses to drop during a revitalization except for recessionary years, Leinberger said, “No, it is not ... there should be an increase in businesses created. It sounds like you have to ask yourselves some questions.”

Though revitalization has not yet broken out all over downtown Augusta, several blocks show signs of renewal.

As part of the downtown analysis, the newspaper produced a heat map of locations where business licenses were issued during the decade. Locations were rated from “hot” to “cool.” For example, red shows locations occupied by a business for either nine or 10 years. Blue shows locations occupied for one or two years.

The resulting map closely mirrors the distribution of empty buildings downtown. Locations on upper Broad Street, west of James Brown Boulevard, show a higher incidence of business occupancy stretching across all 10 years. Lower Broad east of James Brown, cross streets and other locations off Broad show less business activity.

Leinberger said the results are not surprising.

“Recovery tends to start with just a few blocks and then proceed block to block,” he said. “A block can feel like a mile, especially if people are feeling nervous because there’s not many people on the street.”

Changes to area

Business owners from blocks where revitalization has yet to take hold are understandably more frustrated than those occupying the red zones. Some on lower Broad whose downtown roots go back decades spoke bitterly of panhandlers, a deteriorating physical environment and a slow-to-respond local government.

Silla Tae Mitchell, the owner of Silla Café, an Asian restaurant at 855 Broad St., said she has seen change for the worse during her 10 years in business.

“The city gives a lot of liquor licenses on Broad Street. There used to be more family stuff downtown, car shows, bands. Families want to come to museums, not clubs,” she said.

Asked whether more residences could bring business growth, Mitchell said, “People say we are going to grow with more apartments, but I don’t see it. Every corner is a club. Everywhere is a bar. People are not going to live here.”

On upper Broad Street, things are better. One strategy that has helped is Artists Row, a collection of galleries that begins at 10th and Broad. David Hutchison moved his business, The Book Tavern, from Eighth Street to Broad’s 1000 block six years ago because of the foot traffic.

“Overnight, we were suddenly making money, from the day that I moved in here,” he said. “Back on Eighth Street, every day had been dead. I held that place together on Ramen noodles.”

Across the street from Hutch­ison, in Broad’s 1100 block, Ooollee Bricker is expanding her vintage-clothing shop into the adjoining storefront. She said the numbers on her balance sheet have gotten better every year since she opened in 2008.

“What is happening downtown is happening on the 1000, 1100 and 1200 blocks,” she said, adding that empty storefronts dotting lower Broad slow the foot traffic there. “This is where the occupancy is.”

New center

Hardy Meyer wants to be part of the movement to make lower Broad a destination spot. He rented, renovated and will soon open a jazz and blues club on the first floor of a building that sat vacant for three years.

Situated at 877 Broad St., it’s a straight shot in one direction from the soon-to-open downtown parking deck and convention center on James Brown Boulevard. Augusta Common, an outdoor events venue, lies a few steps in the other direction.

“I think business is moving this way,” Meyer said.

Hutchison said that despite upper Broad’s strength, revitalization in downtown as a whole seems to have stagnated.

“Our downtown development authority is very concerned with project development, like the TEE (Trade, Exhibit and Event) Center or the White’s Building,” Hutchison said. “But they’re not resourced to figure out how we attract businesses and get them started down here. Typically, a development authority will have a Main Street program as a partner.”

A Georgia Main Street designation signals to tourists and investors that a city is pursuing downtown revitalization according to a set of nationally recognized standards. Augusta’s Main Street program fizzled in 2006 after the resignation of its executive
director. Its board disbanded, and programs such as Saturday Market and First Friday were picked up by the Downtown Development Authority, according to Woodard.

Today’s recipe for revitalization might have left out business recruitment, but Hutchison still looks forward to projects such as condos, street lighting and a soon-to-be completed convention center expansion.

He predicted the new center would be a game-changer and would extend redevelopment into lower Broad.

“The way we’ll get to revitalization is with effort, effort, effort, effort, effort, effort,” the businessman said. “And, at some point, your reach this magic point where you tip over, and everybody wants in.”

ABOUT THE ANALYSIS

For this project, The Augusta Chronicle obtained electronic business license records from Augusta’s License and Inspection Department. From more than 20,000 records of licensed Richmond County businesses, 1,121 that fell within the downtown boundaries were selected.

The list was built by comparing the table of licensed businesses to a table of downtown parcels provided by Augusta’s GIS department and selecting the ones that had matching parcel identification numbers. Forty percent of licensed businesses are at locations that represent a secondary address for the parcel, and these licensed business records have no PIN. Downtown businesses from this group were found by checking three address fields in the records – location, temporary and mailing – and selecting those with downtown addresses. Where conflicting addresses existed on the same record, Internet searches were performed to confirm the business’s advertised address, and satellite mapping was used to confirm that the disqualified address did not fall within a business district.

It was concluded that the final 1,121 downtown businesses had a total of 4,522 license renewals issued between 2001 and 2010. Licenses were grouped by year and totals were counted to determine whether downtown businesses grew, fell or remained stable for the decade.

COMING MONDAY

Empty buildings discourage shoppers by creating a sense of neglect, and downtown Augusta has a big problem in that area.

Comments (44) Add comment
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Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/08/11 - 10:18 pm
0
0
Let me guess... all it would

Let me guess... all it would take is a ball park... and BOOM! Streets paved in gold...

countyman
20144
Points
countyman 10/09/11 - 01:36 am
0
0
The article left out three

The article left out three very important ongoing projects downtown... The 34 condos underway in the Whites Buildng.. The Sprint Food & Metro Market construction at 851 Broad street next to Augusta Common(former belk warehouse: 1st floor urban market/restaurant/conveinence store: open air seating: 2nd floor Sprint area corporate offices)..

The final one is the recent grand opening of Rural Sourcing who's bringing 100 IT jobs to the Enterprise Mill.

The Lofts at Marbury is the real game changer once the development starts construction. This is Augusta's first really true urban infill project. Phase 1 calls for one 42-unit loft building. The 42 unit building is 3 1/2 to 4 stories tall. Three stories of residential above pull under parking. A rooftop terrace overlooking downtown sits on top of the building. Phase 2 consists of two 5 unit townhome buildings.... The two 5 unit townhome buildings are 3 stories tall..

countyman
20144
Points
countyman 10/09/11 - 01:50 am
0
0
Downtown revitalizations take

Downtown revitalizations take decades and they don't happen overnight. I agree with the owner of the future Downtown Barroom at 877 Broad street. The growth is starting to creep up lower Broad.. Sprint Food and Metro Market 851 Broad, 967 Broad four new apts, 566 Broad street new residential, Bar 544 at 544 Broad, Just Essentials at 956 Broad, Killer B Disc Golf at 863 Broad, and Downtown Barroom 877 Broad Street..

The new apartments underway at 220-222 6th street are right off Broad.

Riverman1
84132
Points
Riverman1 10/09/11 - 05:32 am
0
0
A tremendous fact filled

A tremendous fact filled article by Ms. Hawkins. Numbers don't lie. On the positive side, Artists Row is working. Bringing in artists with subsidized rent in poorer sections is a model that many cities have successfully followed.

Notice the comment by David Hutchinson:

“Our downtown development authority is very concerned with project development, like the TEE (Trade, Exhibit and Event) Center or the White’s Building,” Hutchison said. “But they’re not resourced to figure out how we attract businesses and get them started down here. Typically, a development authority will have a Main Street program as a partner.”

The fact is if we are waiting on crowds that the TEE will bring to the downtown area, we will be waiting until the fall of 2013 when the first (and only thing so far) event is scheduled.

cityman
-6
Points
cityman 10/09/11 - 07:03 am
0
0
Margaret Woodard, the
Unpublished

Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta, challenged the results.

“You have to look at the entire district. We don’t do just Broad; we do Ellis, Greene, Telfair and Laney-Walker,” she said..... Woodard failed to metion that Harrisburg was also included in the downtown district. http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/business/local-business/2008-01-11/fun...

seenitB4
87395
Points
seenitB4 10/09/11 - 07:54 am
0
0
How interesting...we have

How interesting...we have been saying this for some time now...but some think they can dress everything with just a little more lipstick....gonna take more lipstick...It will be hard to convince families to relocate near bars/clubs mixture.....& I doubt you have enough singles to populate the town.....you "ain't" Atlanta yaknow.

Bob Munger
0
Points
Bob Munger 10/09/11 - 08:17 am
0
0
I applaud the Chronicle and

I applaud the Chronicle and Ms. Hawkins for a nice piece of journalism.
Having recently attempted to lure investors to a $4.5M downtown, luxury loft apartment project, I will attest that, despite the demand and high occupancy rate, downtown has not reached the tipping point. This realization was a factor in the birth to the Augusta Greenway Alliance, a new, Augusta-based corporation seeking nonprofit status. Our first big initiative is a unique, sustainable transportation corridor through the heart of Augusta, the global capital of low speed electric vehicles.
We endeavor to deliver, through advocacy, public outreach, stakeholder coordination and project management, this alternative transportation link from Downtown Augusta, through the Medical District, terminating at Paine College. It endeavors to link to the Canal Trails system, and hopefully expand in the future, including linkage to North Augusta.
Unlike conventional greenways, we advocate a more functional and robust alternative transportation roadway, including low speed electric vehicles, coupled with bicycles and other forms of low-speed "green" transport (the lowest speed being pedestrians). Auugusta, after all, is the global epicenter of low speed electric vehicle production, with Club Car, E-Z-GO and Tomberlin.
At least portions of this route would resrict access for conventional, high speed, internal combustion vehicles.
We envision this being coined an "Augusta Greenway," as opposed to a conventional greenway.
Because Augusta's core is no longer as active as it was a half-century ago, we believe that small sections of the existing low speed roadway infrastructure can be utilized, thus keeping capital costs relatively low, and we are optimistic that Federal and private foundation funding may be attracted to an innovative pilot project. For this to happen, however, first requires grassroots community support.
We believe that the Greenway has the potential to significantly increase economic interaction between the Medical District and Downtown. presentation. Please feel free to visit our website, at augustagreenway.org, or join our Facebook Group, the Augusta Greenway Alliance.
Also, we will be giving a presentation on the Greenway at the Augusta Green Scene, October 18th at 6 PM at the Partridge Inn. This is a networking event sponsored by the Augusta Chapter of the US Green Building Council. Please join us, there is no cost to attend.

PR
0
Points
PR 10/09/11 - 12:25 pm
0
0
If you think the TEE Center
Unpublished

If you think the TEE Center is going to make a difference, you're smoking dope. Why would anyone want to have a convention in Dis-gusta? No decent air service, no rail service, and the interstate goes by with no good access downtown except one parkway with no emergency access. If I was looking for a place to have a convention Dis-gusta would be on the bottom of my list. The TEE Center wil turn into a white elelphant that will cost the city lots of mnoey with little or no return. Typical Dis-gusta politics...no thought about the outcome, just make it happen. Until that changes downtown Dis-gusta will continue to be a 4 block area for food and artists. Other than that downtown is an eyesore and a haven for lowlifes.

Brad Owens
4450
Points
Brad Owens 10/09/11 - 01:13 pm
0
0
OK, where do I begin? First,

OK, where do I begin?

First, this is a 100% fact; "The number of downtown businesses dropped 27 percent over the past decade..."

Numbers don't lie and the DDA can try to spin it any way they choose, but a net loss is a net loss. Period.

Second, Augusta's Main Street program did not "fizzle" it was destroyed by the DDA itself. I challenge this statement for being non-factual, "Its board disbanded, and programs such as Saturday Market and First Friday were picked up by the Downtown Development Authority, according to Woodard..."

That is a misleading statement at best, 100% fabrication at worst.

Hal Hood was forced to resign and the vote by the Main Street Board to dissolve was not taken in accordance with the by-laws. The DDA wanted to keep the funding that was sent to Main Street thorugh the DDA by the county (please note the DDA didn't see a reduction in it's stipend it gets from the RC tax payer after MSA "disbanded").

Also, the only reason the DDA even has a budget is because of Main Street. After the city and county became one, Randy Oliver said the Main Street program could not receive direct funding form the city, so they merged the DDA and Main Street programs to have an "Executive Directors" position.

The money Main Street was getting was supposed to just pass through the DDA not be controlled by them.

Main Street was a business assoc of sorts for downtown, and have non-profit status. The DDA got to keep the non-profit status even after they got rid of Main Street.

It was a dirty deal form the begining, and just after they got rid of Main Street, the Downtown Augusta Alliance (DA2) showed up on the scene.

Also, the Enterprise Fund used to get the Sat Market off the ground was coordianted by several folks (me included) with then commissioner Tommy Boyles, Janie Peel was in the middle of it too.

First Friday was dumped by the DDA and the GAAC picked it up after a HUGE fight. The Chairman of the DDA along with Maggie decided, without a vote, to defund the event.

I am sick and tired of the story not being told right and folks taking credit for the hard work of others.

Hal Hood worked hard to get it right, he was sabotaged by certain DDA members and Mian Street folks in cahoots with those DDA folks.

I am sure this will probably get removed, because no one wants to hear the truth and the newspaper folks are too lazy to get at the truth.

I am tired of all the spin, downtown is not booming, it is not what it could be and certain folks have made sure that it stays down and the ball stays in their court.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2006/10/12/met_100167.shtml

As you can see, I have FOUGHT to keep the funds going to these events while certain folks wanted it sent to their own pet projects.

Facts are stubborn things.

Brad Owens

gargoyle
17206
Points
gargoyle 10/09/11 - 01:14 pm
0
0
When the hand wringing and

When the hand wringing and resources of a city of 200,000 people are concentrated on 4 square miles the ethics, intelligence, and or the legality of those involved should be questioned .... Perhaps the plans and planners should be scrapped

CorporalGripweed
0
Points
CorporalGripweed 10/09/11 - 01:25 pm
0
0
Who are we supposed to

Who are we supposed to believe? Countyman or our lying eyes?

countyman
20144
Points
countyman 10/09/11 - 01:50 pm
0
0
Corporal.. Please name

Corporal.. Please name anything false in one of my comments?? Every single development I listed is TRUE.. It's not my fault if you don't believe the CBD is growing that fast..

I left out several projects happening across the CBD and inner city. The warehouse at 922 Ellis street(it's actually called the JB Whites warehouse) attached via skywalk to the Whites Building is being renovated into a office/parking garage component..The Red Star building on 9th street 2br apts/commercial space, Tantra Lounge(restaurant), Big Dake Cakes on 9th street, Soy Noodle House Expansion, Vintage Ooollee expansion, 1130 Jones street will have 1st floor commercial space and four apts, 314-316 Greene street 12 studio apartments in Olde Town, 1225 Greene street apartments(Rice House)..

Bob Munger even commented on the article, he's the developer behind the Lofts at Marbury which I mentioned earlier..

countyman
20144
Points
countyman 10/09/11 - 01:58 pm
0
0
Unless you're blind, anybody

Unless you're blind, anybody can clearly see the alcohol license sign infront of 851 Broad street. The former Belk warehouse is right next to the Augusta Common.. Several people who attended the Hispanic festival yesterday were looking at the building.. The developers have been working on the inside and the windows..

The new Killer B disc golf store at 863 Broad street is very close to the Sprint Food & Metro Market construction.. The owner of Killer B recently moving from MA to GA must be a figment of my imagination..

Brad Owens
4450
Points
Brad Owens 10/09/11 - 01:56 pm
0
0
The small business owner

The small business owner brought downtown back, not the big projects.

Riverman1
84132
Points
Riverman1 10/09/11 - 02:11 pm
0
0
Great information, Brad, you

Great information, Brad, you usurper you. Well, that's what he called you. Heh.

kiwiinamerica
942
Points
kiwiinamerica 10/09/11 - 02:14 pm
0
0
@Countyman More humor from
Unpublished

@Countyman

More humor from the king of stand-up comedy.

If the expansion of the Soy Noodle house is an example of the "development" of downtown, then you're clutching at straws. When one business closes and another takes it over, the status quo has been maintained. There has been no development. In the case of the Soy Noodle House, the business next door closed. The Noodle House expanded into its space.

One business closes, another one opens. Net gain: zero.

"Development" in my book, means expansion into new areas or areas which are presently defunct, unused or in disrepair.

How's the Discoteque Lounge doing, down there by Fifth Street? Is the "Snake Lady" still performing?

Bob Munger
0
Points
Bob Munger 10/09/11 - 02:15 pm
0
0
I am currently attempting to

I am currently attempting to work with the DDA on the Augusta Greenway Alliance. I cannot imagine why anyone would be opposed to the Greenway, but upcoming actions will tell the tale. As I have said time and again, if Augusta doesn't seize this opportunity, other places will. Margaret has had some heart wrenching personal tragedies to deal with, and my sense of things is that she gets tons of pressure from some powerful folks in town. She ultimately has to answer to her Board.

Brad Owens
4450
Points
Brad Owens 10/09/11 - 02:26 pm
0
0
Bob, be sure to get

Bob, be sure to get deloused.

The DDA should be defunded and used to issue bonds on parking decks only, as it was intended to be used for.

Brad

countyman
20144
Points
countyman 10/09/11 - 02:41 pm
0
0
Kiwi.. 100 IT jobs at

Kiwi.. 100 IT jobs at Enterprise Mill($30k to $90k), 34 new condos in the Whites Building, Dunbar Howard House(12 apts in Olde Town), Rice House new apts, etc...

The construction at 851 Broad street is replacing the former Belk warehouse next to the Augusta Common.. This warehouse on broad street closed a long time ago.

D. Sweard
0
Points
D. Sweard 10/09/11 - 03:56 pm
0
0
Thank You Brad for telling

Thank You Brad for telling “The Real Story” of the demise of Main Street. There was little that I could do to stop them at the time, yet to hear how they spin it now is almost AS SINFUL. The DDA can take the credit for our (MS) hard work as long as it benefits ALL Downtown not just the chosen few. I only wish that they would stop telling an outright lie about the end of Main Street…
Danielle Seward

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 10/09/11 - 03:48 pm
0
0
The Oracle of Olde Town....he
Unpublished

The Oracle of Olde Town....he sees all, he knows all, he tells all....step right up and have your fortune read!

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 10/09/11 - 04:35 pm
0
0
"the tipping point for

"the tipping point for revitalization.....has remained elusive"

That is an understatement. I don't go down there unless I have absolutely no other option. About 3 times per year now.

It's too bad too. Its beautiful & so historic. It could be wonderful.

wondersnevercease
9218
Points
wondersnevercease 10/09/11 - 06:10 pm
0
0
People get mugged
Unpublished

People get mugged downtown..people get harrassed downtown..people get killed downtown..........................get it?

Fix the crime and the rest will follow.

Brad Owens
4450
Points
Brad Owens 10/09/11 - 06:11 pm
0
0
Your welcome Danielle. You

Your welcome Danielle.

You and Hal and everyone worked too hard to allow the spin doctors to rewrite history.

The DDA should be defunded.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 06:40 pm
0
0
I guess the question of

I guess the question of Broad Street reinventing itself towards success, depends on how one describes success and who and what the goal is of attracting. It isn't women, (well, you know what I mean), it isn't kids and it isn't families. What I see... a few restaurants, lots of bars, and tatoo shops. The few places that I would patronize do not have enough traffic for me to feel safe in visiting.

Doesn't work for me or anyone else that I know. Yet, I can go up or down the road to almost any small Georgia town, or cross the river and visit Aiken DT, and have a wonderful experience.

What's up with it...Augusta has tons of potential...is it just nasty politics?

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 10/09/11 - 07:26 pm
0
0
I dont go downtown unless Im

I dont go downtown unless Im strapped like a book bag. Head on a swivel. Many people who do get robbed downtown do not have the street smarts, so I reserve judgement. Im just tired of my tax dollars trying to fill such a small area for such little return. Meh!

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/09/11 - 07:26 pm
0
0
wondersnevercease Sunday,

wondersnevercease
Sunday, Oct. 9 6:10 PM
FROM:
Downtown Augusta seeks tipping point to revitalization

*********People get mugged downtown..people get harrassed downtown..people get killed downtown..........................get it?

Fix the crime and the rest will follow.*****

WNC, can you give some examples of that? I'm not altogether happy with the ambiance of downtown either, but the worst that has happened to me is getting bugged by a panhandler. Have there been muggings and killings?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/09/11 - 08:22 pm
0
0
Why do little towns like

Why do little towns like Aiken and Greensboro and Rome, thrive and Augusta can't? We are bigger, have just as much or more history, have the river, have corporate, medical, military, industrial, colleges.....?

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 10/09/11 - 10:00 pm
0
0
For most cities the downtown

For most cities the downtown area means bank and corporate headquarters. Augusta just doesn't have that to any great degree. So it's not going to have a traditional "downtown area". What downtown has been successful in attracting are bars and nightclubs, but those places mainly cater to the young college crowd, but that is limited. Augusta doesn't really have a large university like Athens or Columbia, SC.. so you can only have so many bars and clubs downtown competing over that limited group. I think perhaps downtown has reached it's bar saturation point. That's why when a new bar opens it's usually after another one has closed. I also don't see downtown becoming a major shopping destination again.. but it could focus more on niche shopping, sort of like what you find at surrey center. Perhaps you could have a couple of blocks that function as a "Designer District" specializing in unique home furnishings, accents, garden, antiques, etc . (perhaps this could be an extension of the Artists/Antiques Row). The problem is that I see no group marketing downtown in this way. That is what Main Street did. But The DDA doesn't do this as much.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 10/09/11 - 10:12 pm
0
0
Willow, to answer your

Willow, to answer your question, the reason those smaller cities have more thriving downtowns is because they are smaller. Intimacy is more charming. Broad Street is spread out 1.5 mile strip with blocks after blocks of dead zones. It is not compact or intimate. The street is too wide and and the two sides of Broad seem like they are cut off from each other by those horrible parking pits. Notice the blocks of Broad that are doing well are the upper blocks where they don't have the parking pits and the median park in the middle of the street. (contrary to popular belief, some parks can create deadzones). You get a sense that downtown Augusta was initially designed to be a major commercial, banking and entertainment strip.. but times have changed and most of that have moved out from the center. downtowns that have managed to reinvent themselves have become more like urban villages.. with more compact intimate spaces focusing on niche shopping and entertainment. Greenville, SC actually narrowed their main street to make it more intimate and give it a village like feel.

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