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Contract approved for downtown retail project

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Members of Augusta’s Downtown Devel­opment Authority are optimistic about efforts to revitalize the urban retail sector.

At the authority’s monthly meeting, board members gave final approval Thursday for a retail study designed to attract businesses downtown.

“These are going to be national or regional retailers who are used to urban areas and what generally are some of the challenges that come with urban areas,” said Margaret Woodard, the authority’s executive director.

The retail project, Woodard said, has been well-received by the community, with a projected $12,500 already raised by private investors. Organizations having made contributions include Augusta Tomorrow, Augusta Regional Collaboration, The Emporium and Golden Living Centers of Augusta.

The study will be conducted by Retail Strategies, an Alabama retail consulting firm, and is expected to cost between $40,000 and $60,000 over three years. At least 50 percent of that amount will be generated from the private sector, with the authority funding the remaining portion, Woodard said.

“Everyone has been so excited by this,” she said. “Our phones are ringing off the hook. We’ve got more contracts. People are building out new apartments. It’s an exciting time in downtown.”

The city also might use the consulting company for its own retail study, which would lower the amount responsible by the authority, Woodard said.

The project will be done in three phases and includes a market analysis, strategic planning and retail recruitment services. The first phase, expected to last a year, will pinpoint what type of commercial entities are needed.

The authority is in the process of providing the group with a building inventory of downtown, Woodard said.

“If we could get one or two reasonable retail entities down here, it would be a feather in our caps and help us take off,” board member Natalie McLeod said.

Before the board voted to approve the contract, members discussed the criminal activity downtown in the past month.

Last weekend, a couple was attacked while seated on a Riverwalk Augusta bench near the former Fort Discovery.

The day before, a man was assaulted and robbed as he left a Broad Street pub. On Monday, a YouTube video went viral showing a fight last month in front of the J.B. White’s Building that appeared to end with the sound of gunfire.

“We can’t ignore the issue that does impact the perception,” said the authority’s chairman, Cameron Nixon. “All we can do is keep working on the positive, which is downtown is safe. There’s people moving downtown. There’s retail coming downtown.”

Despite the violence, Woodard said, plans are underway for 54 more residential units downtown, which has about a 99 percent resident-occupancy rate. Contracts to purchase two condominiums in the J.B. White’s Building were secured even after the brawl video began circulating, she added.

Board treasurer Sanford Loyd agreed that although the incidents are isolated, “we have to try to prevent that situation from happening again, no matter if it’s only happening one time in 10 years.”

Said board member McLeod: “The problem is the perception it’s a dangerous place and it really isn’t. There are isolated incidents every once in a while, but overall the statistics show it’s very safe down here.”

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Riverman1
82254
Points
Riverman1 05/10/13 - 05:49 am
8
1
Study to study all the studies

We need a study to study all the studies that have been done in Augusta.

Riverman1
82254
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Riverman1 05/10/13 - 05:51 am
6
2
Sure

“Everyone has been so excited by this,” she said. “Our phones are ringing off the hook."

Sure.

Pops
7721
Points
Pops 05/10/13 - 07:37 am
4
1
The article says

The project will be done in three phases and includes a market analysis, strategic planning and retail recruitment services. The first phase, expected to last a year, will pinpoint what type of commercial entities are needed.

Sounds like a project to plan a project to implement a project. Bet it will be a rousing success............

...point to ponder
743
Points
...point to ponder 05/10/13 - 08:51 am
1
0
A new study... Or

Or they could hire a person trained in this area of real estate.

The study will identify the pros and cons of downtown.

The study will show what type of retail activity is missing and who the potential players are.

The study will identify the available space.

The study will show how competitive the lease rates are as compared to other retail venues across the area.

The study will also show that most retailers must have a traffic count of shoppers in the. 1,000's each day..... The study will show we don't. The study will not compare us very well vs. other downtowns which have 2 to 3 million visitors each year.

In the end the study will show that National retailers are not coming to our downtown.

What the study will conclude is that we need to help small businesses start new businesses in out downtown. We need to identify those locally owned and give them the incentives to open up a storefront downtown.

Currently, folks love to live downtown. The more that do live downtown the more then new business will open to serve them. If 5,000 folks lived downtown THEN things will be different.., chances are that wont happen any time in the century.

The study, if it goes there, will show there are great opportunities for corporate offices...

*Downtown Augusta is too far off the beaten track (I-20) for what the study would have hoped it could tell the DDA.

The studies have been performed in the past...get them out and review them.

seenitB4
85392
Points
seenitB4 05/10/13 - 09:16 am
2
1
haha

They make me laugh sometimes......

footnote......There is a small chance you could have your brains beat to a pulp...but..hey...just a small chance...just come & enjoy!

Right on
176
Points
Right on 05/10/13 - 10:03 am
1
1
Title of Article indicated a

Title of Article indicated a new project, not a study. Was interested until it was read.

Riverman1
82254
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Riverman1 05/10/13 - 11:54 am
5
0
Phones Ringing Off The Hook

Margaret Woodard said their phones were ringing off the hook. I tried to call them at 706-722-8000 at 10:51am. I got a busy signal over and over just as Ms. Woodard said would happen. So I decided to go by their office at 936 Broad St. and see all the activity.

It was amazing. People were scurrying everywhere and many held copies of the proposed study in their hands as they screamed in phones, “Come on down.” It was pandemonium. One gentleman in a hurry brushed past me and actually grabbed one of the office workers. “A thousand bucks tip if you find me a place on Broad St. to rent.” Another shouted, “I am willing to build a Bass Pro Shop on Laney Walker.”

Some DDA employees rode around on the Segways that had been stored so they could better handle the crowd and threw out the plan for the study like a paperboy in the morning.

A nice looking lady said she represented an international company that employed tens of thousands and they wanted a corporate office near the strip clubs on Broad. U-haul trucks were stopping by and people jumping out asking where they could rent something downtown. That proposed study to make a plan has this town excited like nothing I’ve ever seen.

MarinerMan
2107
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MarinerMan 05/10/13 - 12:24 pm
1
0
Margaret's Backdoor
Unpublished

I found it extremely funny that the fight happened right in front of Margaret's backdoor. She lives in the White's Building, but of course they all enter from the BACK of the building, where the security guard is. @RM1 - you are great !!

countyman
19719
Points
countyman 05/10/13 - 01:43 pm
3
4
Why are some people upset

Why are some people upset downtown is growing? Do they not realize downtown Augusta and West Augusta are the best options to attract white collar office jobs. Why do some people want to stop Augusta from progressing?

Why do people act like violent crime doesn't happen outside of downtown?

The crime rate, atmosphere, culture, amenties, etc will of course attract new people/businesses.

Pointoponder. The planned 25 acre development near Kroger(Walmart neighborhood market) in the Medical District/Harrisburg shows we can attract national retailers to the urban core.

countyman
19719
Points
countyman 05/10/13 - 12:58 pm
1
4
Facts

There's more interest downtown from private developers compared to anywhere in the CSRA...

The number of private construction projects underway can't be denied.

DowntownJaguar
113
Points
DowntownJaguar 05/10/13 - 01:07 pm
2
0
Dang

LMAO--you made me chuckle Riverman1. Think Azziz will take the GRU Jaguars D1 one day?

Riverman1
82254
Points
Riverman1 05/10/13 - 01:25 pm
2
1
Ah, Downtown Jag, you

Ah, Downtown Jag, you remembered my D-1 ideas...I thought you were history. I hope SOMEBODY takes ASU-GRU to the bigtime. We have everything here to make it happen. Big enough community, facilities, money, local players and a great coach. Imagine getting some games with bigtime teams right here in Augusta.

...point to ponder
743
Points
...point to ponder 05/10/13 - 03:01 pm
0
0
Urban core vs downtown

BiG difference in locations......big difference in traffic counts....big differences across the board. What makes one location better than another for a 'retailer' is in the numbers.

The number of projects in our downtown is phenomenal....(*food and beverage...) BUT, the reality of growing retail in our CBD is slim to almost none when it comes to national retail tenants. The numbers aren't there....yet...someday maybe.

countyman
19719
Points
countyman 05/10/13 - 03:56 pm
2
3
CBD is better situated compared to the Medical District

The CBD is the best option in terms of residential/day time population in the urban core. People don't really live in the Medical District, and only work in the area for now.

The Watermark before the recession included the renovation of the train depot. The train depot, Woolworth building on Broad, etc can easily be renovated into GAP, Publix, Old Navy, Urban Outfitters, etc..

The Holiday Inn Express and smaller businesses(Farmhaus Burgers, Sprint Food & Metro Market, Whiskey Bar Kitchen, etc) prove things are changing in term of attracting higher quality development.

Let's not forget Rural Sourcing brought 100 IT jobs to the Enterprise Mill. There's going to be a cluster of more high paying jobs throughout the CBD in the future.

Pops
7721
Points
Pops 05/10/13 - 05:18 pm
1
1
Quote

"The Watermark before the recession included the renovation of the train depot. The train depot, Woolworth building on Broad, etc can easily be renovated into GAP, Publix, Old Navy, Urban Outfitters, etc..

The Holiday Inn Express and smaller businesses(Farmhaus Burgers, Sprint Food & Metro Market, Whiskey Bar Kitchen, etc) prove things are changing in term of attracting higher quality development."

While we are at it.....why don't we throw out some other "major retailers" who COULD locate in the "CBD". Let me give it a shot......
Neiman Marcus......Saks Fifth Avenue....Macy's......

That wasn't really hard......

Conservative Man
5430
Points
Conservative Man 05/10/13 - 05:49 pm
1
0
Excuse me....

...but I thought the job of the DDA was to be on top of downtown recruitment efforts and not farm it out to others...
If they have to commission studies , then why are we paying THEM salaries?...
$85,000 to pass the buck?...Come on...

LeConteSkier
503
Points
LeConteSkier 05/10/13 - 06:08 pm
3
1
These Same People Wrote Off The Mall

All of these same people saying downtown is not safe said the same thing about the Augusta Mall 6 years ago. Most of these negative posters never gave it a chance and doomed the mall expansion as a failure before ground was broken. Well 6 years later we STILL have Apple, P.F. Changs, Banana Republic, William Sanoma just to name afew with NEW national retail stores and restaurants coming in every year and NONE of the outdoor lifestyle stores have yet to close 6 years later and only Nine West and Abercrombie are the only major retailers to close there in 6 years not to mention the recession and the mall is still thriving. If yall were right then these stores would be long gone if they had even came at all. Just admit it the developers behind these stores know way more about where to locate a store than yall. The dead end of the mall which had the small mom and pop stores when Macy's closed is now the gateway to the mall and rivals Mall of Georgia and Perimeter. Yall realize your doom and gloom arguments for the mall are false and now its doom and gloom for downtown and I can assure you that 6 years from now we will have national retailers downtown along with upscale restaurants downtown such as Roosters Beak and Frog Hollow which are THRIVING meaning there is more to come. The shady businesses drawing in the shady crowds will disappear as rent goes up and more nice and upscale places and condos move in.

Riverman1
82254
Points
Riverman1 05/10/13 - 06:13 pm
1
2
Another Straw Man

Well maybe the same people who warned you about Regency Mall are warning you now about downtown. But I didn't see Augusta Mall mentioned once in the article or in the comments. This is about a downtown study. Another straw man argument. Does the DDA promote the mall?

nocnoc
41190
Points
nocnoc 05/10/13 - 06:25 pm
1
0
Want to revitalize Downtown?

Build a MALL Downtown.

GnipGnop
11853
Points
GnipGnop 05/10/13 - 10:49 pm
3
2
Why should south augusta tax payers

foot the bill for downtown? It's pathetic!!!!

nocnoc
41190
Points
nocnoc 05/11/13 - 03:51 pm
0
1
Another suggesiton to revitalize Downtown?

Prohibit by zoning, any 700 to 1200 block of Broad St., level location from being used as a Non-retail / Non-Commercial business.

eg. Former Dept. Stores being used as junk warehouses.

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