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Vacant Fort Discovery site sold to California investor

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The expansive riverfront home of the defunct Fort Discovery museum has a new name – and a new owner.

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After being on the market more than a year, the former home of Fort Discovery at 1 Seventh St. was purchased for $2.1 million by California businessman Moshe Silagi.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
After being on the market more than a year, the former home of Fort Discovery at 1 Seventh St. was purchased for $2.1 million by California businessman Moshe Silagi.

After being on the market more than a year, the 120,000-square-foot property at 1 Seventh St. was purchased for $2.1 million by California businessman Moshe Silagi, said Rob Dennis, the chief executive officer of the National Science Center, which closed the educational attraction in 2010 after the organization announced plans to move to Washington, D.C.

Silagi is president of Silagi Development & Management, a 25-year-old firm based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which has holdings in more than 20 states, according to the company Web site.

The Augusta property was titled under a newly created, for-profit corporation called Discovery Plaza LLC, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Although no specific use has been identified, the riverfront property will most likely evolve into office space, said Dennis Trotter, the vice president of Meybohm Commercial Properties, who handled the sale.

“We’re in active discussions with potential tenants right now,” Trotter said. “We don’t think it will be retail, but it is more likely to be office or institutionally oriented space.”

Silagi, whose portfolio includes malls, golf resorts and residential sites, already owns real estate in Augusta, including the former Waccamaw building off Wylds Road. That site is now occupied by Virginia College and Teleperformance USA.

“He took a seriously under-performing piece of real estate, made an investment in improving it, and now has a place with a thousand people coming in and out of it every day,” Trotter said. “That shows the potential for the downtown property. A building that size in downtown Augusta could bring 400, even 500 people downtown in the way of employees.”

The former Fort Discovery site includes the third and fourth floors of the Port Royal building off Reynolds Street. The first two floors include city-owned parking facilities, with private condominiums on the upper floors.

The property includes a theater, restaurants and other amenities and was once listed for as much as $5 million.

The National Science Center, created in 1985, opened Fort Discovery in April 1997 to support the center’s mission of improving interest in math, science and technology among younger pupils.

The group’s restructuring plan included the move to Washington, but does not include any plan to operate a museum.

The center is a unique partnership between National Science Center Inc., a nonprofit organization, and the Army.

Comments (29) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 01/12/12 - 05:34 pm
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$2.1 million is piddling. The

$2.1 million is piddling. The reason previously given for not using it for a TEE Center is that it was going to be sold for millions and generate lots in taxes. So far, strike one.

Dipshot
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Dipshot 01/12/12 - 05:38 pm
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agree River.. wasn't a sale

agree River.. wasn't a sale "imminent" back in 2009? And that's why we were told by none other than Joe Bowles, as why it could not be used as an alternative site for the TEE center?

Dipshot
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Dipshot 01/12/12 - 05:39 pm
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University expansion??

University expansion??

Riverman1
84225
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Riverman1 01/12/12 - 05:41 pm
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Dipshot, exactly!!! Regarding

Dipshot, exactly!!! Regarding your 4:38 post.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/12/12 - 05:42 pm
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I didn't know the city owned

I didn't know the city owned the parking deck for the condominium owners. I wonder how much the city nets for their investment every year?

Dipshot
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Dipshot 01/12/12 - 05:43 pm
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but I guess the right people

but I guess the right people or LLCs did not own the land under Fort Discovery so that's why it couldn't be used.

ladydi2053
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ladydi2053 01/12/12 - 07:04 pm
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The parking garage that the

The parking garage that the city owns was built for original retail businesses that were located here. The condo owners have there own secured parking garage. The city does not supply our secured parking.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 01/12/12 - 07:02 pm
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That building would have been

That building would have been a very bad match for a good convention center design...plus...who was going to buy all those condos when they became worthless because you just put a convention center under them?

Dixieman
15040
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Dixieman 01/12/12 - 07:27 pm
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C'mon folks, this is good

C'mon folks, this is good news for Augusta!

Dipshot
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Dipshot 01/12/12 - 07:32 pm
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Who said it wasn't good news

Who said it wasn't good news that someone bought it. That still doesn't change the fact that the public was mislead 2 and a half years ago about the "Imminent sale" of this property and that is why it could not be considered as a much cheaper alternative for the TEE Center. But if these CA investors plan to do something productive with the space that uses private investment instead of givernment handouts, then I say great

Jilly Bean
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Jilly Bean 01/12/12 - 09:03 pm
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This is more good news for

This is more good news for Augusta and downtown. I love the possibilities that are heading towards downtown and helping our community grow.

abeecee
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abeecee 01/12/12 - 11:04 pm
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The TEE is an open, grade

The TEE is an open, grade level, exhibit and trade show space. Old Fort D (retro-fitted into Shops at Port Royal, btw) was totally unsuited to the types of events TEE will accommodate.

countyman
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countyman 01/12/12 - 11:50 pm
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Excellent news.. I was hoping

Excellent news.. I was hoping for some type of mix-use component, but office space is good enough..

The more people working downtowns brings additional foot traffic, residential, retail, etc to the CBD..

Dipshot
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Dipshot 01/13/12 - 01:21 am
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I don't believe anyone said

I don't believe anyone said you used the words "done deal", but I do recall the words "imminent" and it does not appear that was the case at all. Sure WJBF may have given it a passing glance, but to construe that as an "imminent" sale is pretty far of the mark. Also the floor space at Fort Discovery is double what we are getting at this new TEE center. And having been to many trade shows at America's Mart in Atlanta I can tell you that the split level is not so much a problem.. at least not for trade shows.. at America's Mart you have exhibit space on multiple levels. Same with the trade markets in High Point. It could have worked and would have been far cheaper. Now we are seeing that this $40 million convention center has pretty much nothing booked and is behind schedule.

Riverman1
84225
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Riverman1 01/13/12 - 05:40 am
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It most certainly could have

It most certainly could have been turned into a TEE center cheaply. Besides no one is coming to the 100 million dollar one anyway. Heh.

Why does anyone think the condos on top of a convention center make them worthless?

blues550
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blues550 01/13/12 - 08:22 am
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This is outstanding for the
Unpublished

This is outstanding for the CSRA and downtown.

And the TEE is exactly where it needs to be. The hotels and existing meeting space are a perfect fit, with a variety of restaurants within walking distance.

Downtown Augusta is looking better and better.

my.voice
4826
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my.voice 01/13/12 - 09:18 am
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The whole building is a black

The whole building is a black eye on the Augusta sky line. Pink? Cmon VGR, anyone could have done better than that! Yet, there it sits, looming over the river like a panty factory.

David Parker
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David Parker 01/13/12 - 09:25 am
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n1. there are worse things

n1.

there are worse things voice

drivenslow
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drivenslow 01/13/12 - 10:47 am
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yep like taxpayers owning a
Unpublished

yep like taxpayers owning a parking deck and a tee center on someone elses property that the taxpayers have to pay rent to FOREVER

Equaltreatmentforall
49
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Equaltreatmentforall 01/13/12 - 05:50 pm
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I live in this big pink

I live in this big pink building and absolutely love it! I don't think there's a building in Augusta that gets as much attention, mostly good, as my home does. This focal point is refreshing. But as they say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and everyone is entitled to their thoughts. My.voice what does you home look like?

countyman
20152
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countyman 01/13/12 - 01:56 pm
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Imagine the possibilites with

Imagine the possibilites with people working in the former Fort Discovery building, and at the GGHF property...

madgerman
236
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madgerman 01/13/12 - 01:59 pm
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Now let me get this right.
Unpublished

Now let me get this right. Why did the Fort D close down? I distinctly remember it was related to an absence of parking. Now the old Waccamaw building has what going for it - could it be enough parking for a large clientle? Just where would the 400 - 500 employees park? I smell a SPLOST coming on and the smell is eminating from the two lane non-expandable Reynolds street.

joebowles
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joebowles 01/13/12 - 03:46 pm
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Riverman and Dipshot, This is

Riverman and Dipshot, This is my post from Oct.19, 2009 :.
"Riverman, Being a conservative wouldn't you rather see Ft. Discovery actually on the tax base. Stay tuned it will be bought soon."

My reason for the fact it couldn't be used for TEE Ctr was not the sale but the fact that structurally the ceiling height was too low!
As for the sale price I never estimated but Emerydan that day stated the city should have paid 4.1 Million. How is that prediction??/ Not too good.

joebowles
104
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joebowles 01/13/12 - 03:47 pm
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Structurally also there was

Structurally also there was objects in the center that would have prevented the floor to be an open space.

countyman
20152
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countyman 01/13/12 - 03:56 pm
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The TEE Center has three

The TEE Center has three diffrent events already, and the facility doesn't open until later this year..

Riverman1
84225
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Riverman1 01/13/12 - 06:29 pm
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Countyman, the events are

Countyman, the events are scheduled for when? Have they been to Augusta before using existing facilities? What are they?

Riverman1
84225
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Riverman1 01/13/12 - 06:35 pm
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Joe, obviously it wasn't

Joe, obviously it wasn't bought BEFORE the TEE vote. That's what's important. Now let's look at things honestly. The TEE is getting absolutley ZERO events to sign up. The one or two Countyman mentions have been here before using existing facilities. Many of us have been to TEE type events in other cities and believe Ft. Discovery would have worked well. So considering no REAL events are scheduled, wouldn't it have been better not to spend a total of $100 million on the TEE and to have used Ft. Discovery? See what I mean? Honestly?

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 01/13/12 - 06:47 pm
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countyman, what are the

countyman, what are the events?

Pitchfork-Ben-Thurmond61
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Pitchfork-Ben-Thurmond61 01/13/12 - 07:46 pm
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Librels closing our proud
Unpublished

Librels closing our proud military bases make me pigbitin mad. Our brave brave boys fighting for our rights and gas and now this. B.H. Osama wont be happy till we roll over and turn sharia and the RED WHITE AND BLUE and HOLY BIBLE is repalced by sharia and vegatrian moslem food and laws. ANother dark for us all. Hears hoping Rick PERRY and Sara Palin will prevale and TAKE AMERICA BACK!!!!

Riverman1
84225
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Riverman1 01/14/12 - 08:10 am
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Know what I'd really like to

Know what I'd really like to hear Joe Bowles say?

"Well, maybe we made a mistake with the TEE."

I don't want to hear tap dancing about what "soon" meant. State the obvious as you usually do in your candid way and let's move on.

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