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Music store owner moving because of downtown violence

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Full of concern for his Augusta music store after a string of downtown crime last summer, Jonathan Karow started a quest to find a new home for the business. Nearly a year later, he has one.
“It is a shame because downtown has such potential,” said Karow, the owner of Rock Bottom Music. “We’ve really put our heart and soul into downtown and have been strong supporters of downtown. We will continue to support downtown, but we’re not going to maintain a retail and educational business there anymore.”

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After more than a decade downtown, Jonathan Karow is closing Rock Bottom Music and moving it to Fairway Square shopping center on Washington Road.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
After more than a decade downtown, Jonathan Karow is closing Rock Bottom Music and moving it to Fairway Square shopping center on Washington Road.

Karow has run the business for more than a decade at Broad and Eighth streets. He said the violent crime ­– along with insufficient parking and lack of upkeep of some downtown buildings – have deterred some customers. Recent incidents, including a fight in front of the former J.B. White’s building that went viral on YouTube and the attack of a couple on Riverwalk Augusta, reinforced his decision to move.

Two weeks ago, he signed a lease for a 5,000-square-foot space at 2825 Washington Road in the Fairway Square shopping center. He plans to move in by late July.

“The optimism and response was almost 100 percent,” Karow said. “I thought I would get mixed results from people.”

He started having concerns after a shooting last July on a Broad Street sidewalk that injured six people, he said.

“Since then, we had either a lot of people take their students out of lessons or just be no-shows,” he said. “Some people point blank told us they were just going to quit coming downtown. We really felt that financially.”

When Karow opened his business in the Johnson Buil­ding almost 11 years ago, he said the surrounding area was bustling with retail activity, but much of that commercial space from Eighth Street toward Olde Town now sits empty.

The new location is larger, providing space for seven lesson rooms and a 3,500-square-foot showroom.

“We’re upgrading,” Karow said. “We’re taking lemons and making lemonade.”

He said he’ll keep his downtown Aiken store open.

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nocnoc
41084
Points
nocnoc 06/11/13 - 05:51 pm
11
0
This can't be

Countyman has told us otherwise.
In all fairness, actually Countyman is right, to a Major extent.
Downtown is pretty safe compared to other shopping areas of ARC.
Sure it has had 3+/- incidents over last 18 months. But those occurred in the late evening hours, and not the normal for 8am to 8pm business hours.

In the music stores case, the low income hotel a few doors down the street and little or no other businesses on that block to help draw additional walk by foot traffic makes their decision to move understandable from a Business sense.

Yes Parking is a Major issue for any Downtown Business (DB's)
The Political stupidity of 35+ years ago, inflected on DB's by going to fancy pretty parking areas, instead of the old Broad St. with plenty of parking, helped kill the movie houses, department stores and small businesses.

I heard one estimate that the 1970's redesign parking eliminated
over 300 spaces, does any one have the correct figure?

Add to that the out of sight and easily broken into cars by the sunken design, had people looking elsewhere for shopping and movies.

That stupid parking "revitalization" idea continues to inhabit downtown's rebirth.

OH Wait ...
Now the ARC is talking out loud about enforcing 2 hours parking and ticketing cars again. WHY?

Do they want drive off some more business?

bdouglas
4899
Points
bdouglas 06/11/13 - 06:06 pm
13
0
Good for him. Jonathan's a

Good for him. Jonathan's a successful businessman who has grown his shop from one small spot, to two quite large and thriving locations after all these years. He ought to be in a place where he and his customers both feel safe, so more power to him. Thankful he didn't just pack up and close up shop or only keep the Aiken store. As a musician, I definitely appreciate the added option to keep it local in this world of online megastores for music gear.

Riverman1
82167
Points
Riverman1 06/11/13 - 06:24 pm
9
1
"When Karow opened his

"When Karow opened his business in the Johnson Buil¬ding almost 11 years ago, he said the surrounding area was bustling with retail activity, but much of that commercial space from Eighth Street toward Olde Town now sits empty."

That says it all.

He simply represents one of many business owners who left downtown for West Augusta and Columbia County. If I were looking into a reason for the retreat from downtown, I'd examine how the new location in Fairway Square differs than downtown. There are obvious things and some not so obvious.

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/11/13 - 06:31 pm
1
2
What do you play, bdouglas?

What do you play, bdouglas?

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/11/13 - 06:42 pm
7
3
It is sad what has happened

It is sad what has happened to Broad Street since the early 70's when my husband worked in Augusta.

We had business on Broad Street a couple of weeks ago. I had not been there in several years. :-(

Pops
7705
Points
Pops 06/11/13 - 06:43 pm
8
2
He's not telling everything

Five Guys Burgers is taking over his lease......should be open November 2014.

dichotomy
31990
Points
dichotomy 06/11/13 - 07:05 pm
8
1
"Five Guys Burgers is taking

"Five Guys Burgers is taking over his lease......should be open November 2014."

But....but.....but.....but I thought their next place was going in South Augusta.

coouunntyman....oh coouunntyman

Pops
7705
Points
Pops 06/11/13 - 07:10 pm
5
0
Well they figured

the CBD was the place to go.......it was between them and Saks Fifth Avenue........

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 06/11/13 - 07:28 pm
2
10
CBD

I hate to see any business close, but luckily the CBD is growing much faster in 2013... Multiple new restaurants in Boar’s Head Public House, Eros Bistro, Farmhaus Burgers, Whiskey Bar Kitchen, etc and new retail in Bath Fitters, Psycho­tronic, etc have opened recently...

The restaurant next to Farmhaus Burgers, Holiday Inn Express, Sprint Food & Metro Market next to the common, 901 Broad, 307 9th street, 905 Broad(former WAGT building), etc are underway..

1301 Broad(Augusta Lung Associates), the massive historic building at 301 9th street, etc was recently sold.. The old Fort Discovery was sold last year, and the private construction is located all over downtown.

Nonoc. Downtown is overall safe compared to anywhere in the CSRA..

Riverman... The majority of recent growth in West Augusta, Evans, or Martinez has been mostly chains... The new recent openings are local businesses that were never located downtown before.. Those businesses more than likely move from lower Broad to further up Broad street.

KSL... I can't mention the 70's, but downtown Augusta looks MUCH better compared to the 90's/2000's....

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/11/13 - 07:53 pm
3
5
Spent time in Augusta in the

Spent time in Augusta in the early 80's, often on Broad late at night in the company of my husband and a close family friend. Then in the early 90's it was more the Reynolds St/Riverwalk area.

jmo
15380
Points
jmo 06/11/13 - 08:18 pm
10
3
Countyman

I'm sorry, but wake up and smell the coffee.

bdouglas
4899
Points
bdouglas 06/11/13 - 08:48 pm
5
0
@KSL

I play most things with strings that don't require a bow, but mainly bass and acoustic or electric guitar.

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 06/11/13 - 09:00 pm
3
9
JMO

The amount of private construction speaks for itself... I notice you didn't contradict anything related to the new construction, and only left your opinion.

Why don't people ever make the sarcastic remarks to the actual developers?

Instead of the same few posters attacking my comments all the time.. All you have to do is call the corporate at Holiday Inn(Holiday Inn Express under construction on Broad near the Olde Town entrance) for example, and tell them to wake up and smell the coffee.

I think people don't want to bring up the private developers, because they know you can't just build something without doing the research first.

Here's the link to the corporate website..
http://www.ihgplc.com/

Riverman1
82167
Points
Riverman1 06/11/13 - 08:53 pm
10
1
I'm sorry, but it's so

I'm sorry, but it's so obvious.

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 06/12/13 - 01:28 am
2
12
CBD

There's no point of debating, because the facts don't lie.. Make all the sarcastic remarks you want, but it won't hide the truth.

The private construction is moving along faster, because of the low crime rate, property values, etc.

It's very obvious how more restaurants, companies paying high wages, etc have opened/under construction lately in/around the CBD compared to Martinez.

I'm sure you're happy about the Urban Outfitters call center opening in Martinez, but Rural Sourcing (100 IT jobs), ZAPATA Technology(now hiring), and Southpoint Media(opened June 6th) are in the Enterprise Mill..

It's also obvious the only part of Columbia County that can compete against West Augusta lately is Evans in terms of quality businesses. I don't know why somebody continues to portray of all Columbia County in the same light. The Grovetown area(outside the city limits) just a got a Walmart with a couple of surrounding retail/fast food chains.

Let the spin begin!!!!

Riverman1
82167
Points
Riverman1 06/11/13 - 09:21 pm
4
1
We are all with you moving

We are all with you moving out from the CBD to West Augusta-Martinez.

just an opinion
2478
Points
just an opinion 06/11/13 - 09:29 pm
3
1
The elephant in the room.

Does anybody dare to say it? Alvin Mason may be bold enough to.

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 06/12/13 - 01:30 am
3
9
West Augusta and Martinez two different places

Riverman loves to bash Richmond County daily on here, and constantly tell us how much better Columbia County is.

Then tries to combine West Augusta/Martinez together, because Martinez won't be able to compete by itself...

I have no problem if you do like Columbia County more, but sometimes people can't have legitimate debates with you...

West Augusta doesn't need Martinez for anything... The ALDI opened recently in Martinez, and the Walmart Market is coming to Furys Ferry. This is all nice, but not on the level of the renovated Sams Club, Fresh Market expansion, Costco, and Walmart underway on Wrightsboro rd in West Augusta.

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/11/13 - 09:49 pm
4
3
bdouglas

Please meet my husband. He not only plays those, he has built them.

Gage Creed
16704
Points
Gage Creed 06/11/13 - 09:53 pm
8
1
Funny I searched the IHG

Funny I searched the IHG website and there is no mention of any construction in Augusta, GA. Talk about SPIN....

Dixieman
14339
Points
Dixieman 06/11/13 - 09:58 pm
9
1
Yeah, well...

...you can't argue with the facts. Don't blame this guy at all. CBD is a lost cause, folks.

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/11/13 - 10:55 pm
2
5
No comment

No comment

JRC2024
8466
Points
JRC2024 06/11/13 - 10:23 pm
5
3
The traffic in Columbia

The traffic in Columbia County is horrible. I think I will stay in Augusta. I used to live in Woodbridge and that is just too far out if you work in Augusta.

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/11/13 - 11:16 pm
4
4
As is Aiken's southside

As is Aiken's southside traffic. Avoid lunch time traffic on Whiskey Rd. Avoid Friday traffic on Whiskey Rd. Never get behind heavy equipment on Hitchcock bypass headed southeasterly. That part of the bypass was obsolete before construction was finished.

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/11/13 - 11:19 pm
2
4
Decades ago.

Decades ago.

deestafford
26089
Points
deestafford 06/12/13 - 12:20 am
6
2
As I was reading this I recall many folks who live downtown

talking about how they would like to have a grocery store down there and I wondered how much shoplifting would occur. That maybe one of the reasons none have come down there is the potential lost factor that maybe caused by all the "urban outdoors men" who visit the area.

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 06/12/13 - 12:38 am
4
6
Let the spin begin!!!!

The Holiday Inn Express is still under construction, and not completed yet. The smaller Holiday Inn Express(four story) coming to Aiken is probably not listed yet either.

http://appweb.augustaga.gov/planning_zoning/plazid_display.asp?zID=4433

The current sign in front of the development with the phrase ''Holiday Inn Express'', and the groundbreaking held with city officials back in February must all be irrelevant...

West Augusta, CBD, Aiken, and South Augusta are the only areas with new hotel construction. The hotels in Aiken are on Whiskey road, and not downtown either.

Deestafford.. A large commercial development is coming soon near Kroger(grocery store included). The Medical District and Harrisburg are the two closes areas to the property. The CBD is much richer than Harrisburg, and richer than the majority of the CSRA. The population of the CBD is not large enough yet, and it has nothing to do with the the potential of shoplifting. People living in residential areas with high property values don't shoplift normally. There's local grocery stores in the CBD to shop at.

GnipGnop
11836
Points
GnipGnop 06/12/13 - 12:36 am
10
1
Just curious....

Are they going to clean up the end of broad where the Holiday Inn Express is going? Nothing but prostitutes and riff raff there...not conducive to people staying there...

countyman
19716
Points
countyman 06/12/13 - 01:49 am
5
7
I'm sure the Holiday Inn

I'm positive the Holiday Inn Express will improve both the lower end of Broad, and help raise the property values in the Olde Town neighborhood.

It's ironic when the Greenway Store moved from Evans(Washington rd) to the CBD due to security reasons. The media didn't want to mention that bit of information to the public.. They decide to print the article related to the business moving from downtown to West Augusta.

Reminds me of when Sylvia wrote the editorial on the high rankings for Augusta. The editorial was printed first, and disagreed with Augusta being ranked the 7th best city and 4th best place to retire in the US. The article finally appeared later on(don't believe on the news), and I notice the Greenville media shared the information only a few hours after the rankings were released. I didn't see any editorial from the Chronicle when Martinez was ranked the 11th most affordable growing community.

I'll let you guys continue to believe our media reports all of the news, because we know the majority of the media in Augusta is white/republican.

KSL
126139
Points
KSL 06/12/13 - 04:16 am
7
3
countyman,

Please refrain from talking about Aiken. There are motels in Aiken that are undergoing renovations that are older than those on Whiskey Rd. Please know what you are talking about before you mouth off.

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