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"Significant interest" seen in old Fort Discovery space

Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 1:57 PM
Last updated Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 9:02 AM
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The former Fort Discovery space could soon be filled, bringing the potential of hundreds of new jobs to downtown Augusta.

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The former Fort Discovery space, located in the Port Royal property (pictured), could soon be filled. The Port Royal property includes city-owned parking facilities and private condominium on the upper floor. The building, once listed for as much as $5 million, also houses a theater, restaurants and other amenities.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
The former Fort Discovery space, located in the Port Royal property (pictured), could soon be filled. The Port Royal property includes city-owned parking facilities and private condominium on the upper floor. The building, once listed for as much as $5 million, also houses a theater, restaurants and other amenities.

Property owner and developer Moshe Silagi confirmed that there is an office-use tenant interested in the 120,000-square-foot spot at the intersection of Reynolds and Seventh streets, which could create at least 400 jobs.

“If it materializes, it will happen fast and it will be very promising,” Silagi said. “Every downtown would like to have this type of an action taking place.”

Silagi, who was in town last week to meet with those involved in the property, said he was unable to provide the name of the potential tenant because “there are too many parties involved.”

After the Augusta Downtown Development Authority regular meeting Thursday morning, board members held an hour-long closed session and cited recent real estate developments as the reason. Those in attendance, including Augusta Regional Collaboration Project Director Matt Kwatinetz, declined to comment afterward.

Augusta broker Dennis Trotter, who represents Silagi, said finding a new tenant to fill the former museum now vacant for almost three years is in the “courting” phase.

“We’re courting a tenant right now is about all I can say,” said Trotter, a partner in the Jordan Trotter commercial real estate firm. “It’s not a done deal and far from a done deal, but we do have some significant interest in the building.”

In January 2012, Silagi purchased the two-story space within the Port Royal building for about $2 million.

The old National Science Center attraction closed in 2010 after 13 years operation. The site has been stripped to bare concrete floors and columns to make way for its next tenant.

The Port Royal property includes city-owned parking facilities and private condominium on the upper floor. The building, once listed for as much as $5 million, also has space for a theater, restaurants and other amenities.

HISTORY

FEB. 7, 1986: Construction begins on the first Savannah River levee breach at Eighth Street. U.S. Rep. Doug Barnard pushed through federal legislation undoing a 19th-century law to allow the breach, which American City Corp. determined was crucial to making the Riverwalk work.

NOV. 24, 1987: Port Royal Associates and French investors unveil plans to develop an $18 million, three-tower complex along the river called Port Royal, which will include condominiums, a shopping center and a hotel. The project is the brainchild of Augusta resident Edouard Servy, an internationally renowned reproductive endocrinologist. Construction begins 10 months later.

MAY 7, 1991: Grand opening of Port Royal, now a $45 million project that includes 56 condominiums in an 18-story, salmon-colored high-rise along the river, along with 128,000 square feet of retail space. The Shoppes of Port Royal mall opens two days later. Retailers begin shutting down within a year, and, during the first two years, only seven of the $400,000 luxury condos sell.

NOVEMBER 1995: The state Board of Education agrees to transfer $10 million in lottery money to help fund Fort Discovery construction.

APRIL 23, 1997: A dedication ceremony is held for Fort Discovery, located in what used to be The Shoppes of Port Royal, three years after Augusta Chronicle publisher William S. Morris III bought the mall and announced plans to offer it to the National Science Center’s long-proposed science museum project. The project received $13 million in state and local government money, and a private fund-raising campaign netted an additional $6.5 million.

JUNE 2004: The center cuts two-thirds of the staff and reduces hours when state funds are delayed.

AUGUST 2009: Fort Discov­ery announces plans to restructure and change its mission.

DEC. 31, 2010: Fort Discovery closes for good.

JANUARY 2012: After more than a year on the market, the 120,000-square-foot property at 1 Seventh St. is purchased for $2.1 million by California businessman Moshe Silagi.

Source: Augusta Chronicle archives

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David Parker
7923
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David Parker 10/10/13 - 02:04 pm
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1
Is this the same

Is this the same group/operator that was interested in it last time or a new one? Or is this the first show of interest altogether? I though I read an article back a few that indicated a potential tenant. Maybe subdivide and use for offices no?

countyman
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countyman 10/10/13 - 02:28 pm
4
7
Great news!!!

This is going to be huge for downtown, Richmond County, and the metro.

Let's hope everything goes well...

Little Lamb
47024
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Little Lamb 10/10/13 - 02:45 pm
6
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Office Rental

If one or more businesses begin to rent the space in Port Royal, it will indeed by a good thing. Of course, if those businesses already exist and are just moving their operations from one CSRA location to another, leaving vacant office space behind, it will be a net zero impact.

Dixieman
15999
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Dixieman 10/10/13 - 02:55 pm
10
1
I know who it is!

BassPro.
No, wait....

badmoon426
1187
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badmoon426 10/10/13 - 03:21 pm
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Norton guy...

...Countyman.

So what is huge?

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 10/10/13 - 03:52 pm
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Heady times!

Those were some exciting times, back when Riverwalk was developed and the Shoppes of Port Royal opened. I loved the small, up-scale department store - Collette. That was when Chico's came to Augusta, along with some other small shops. I remember a really good Tex-Mex Café and several other restaurants there. Of course the economy was good in those days, but I don't think downtown Augusta was where it needed to be for it to succeed. I have expressed here many times, and some don't like it, but I really think downtown needs to be kept clean and safe first, then to concentrate on revitalizing in smaller sections. When Greenville started really coming together, it was block by block. There was the Daniel Bldg. on the North end of Main Street, (a high-rise with lots of office workers). US Shelter and the Hyatt developed a second high-rise - One Hyatt Place - US Shelter's HQ's and the hotel, across the street from the Daniel Bldg. Then small (private investment) deli's and cafes sprung up within a 1-2 block area, followed by a few little shops. It was bustling (in that 3-4 block area) during the day. At night? no way, you still didn't go downtown after dark, but slowly the progress went, a block or two at a time. It was a good long time before the old Poinsett Hotel (Westin) was revitalized (and it's fantastic, we spent the weekend there few years ago), but early on it was more near the south end of Main St and that was still a rough area. Now South Main/West End is booming, but it was well down the road. Was there public money put into revitalizing downtown? Yes, there was, BUT over time. As the private investment came, the public sector worked with them, but Greenville was not throwing money all over downtown.

I think Augusta is trying to fix downtown all over the place. Reynolds St., Laney Walker/Bethlehem, Kroc Center/Harrisburg, east downtown - tearing down projects and putting in multi-use, converting mills, building expensive Judicial Centers and spending too much to renovate the old one. Most of these improvements are too far from the others to make a real impact, a jewel here, a jewel there...but too little to really change their landscape.

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:37 pm
1
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The Eyesore Tower. Along the River SIN. Left or right bank?
Unpublished

The Eyesore Tower. Along the River SIN. Left or right bank?

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:38 pm
1
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Is there room for the Golf HOF and Gardens? Green Jackets?
Unpublished

Is there room for the Golf HOF and Gardens? Green Jackets?

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:40 pm
1
0
Perhaps a French Market Grille? Or a Hardees? Bon Appetite
Unpublished

Perhaps a French Market Grille? Or a Hardees? Bon Appetite

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:41 pm
1
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The ARC de Failure on the left bank coming upstream. LOL LOL
Unpublished

The ARC de Failure on the left bank coming upstream. LOL LOL

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:42 pm
1
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The Southeast Regional offices of ObamaCare, LLC
Unpublished

The Southeast Regional offices of ObamaCare, LLC

countyman
20630
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countyman 10/10/13 - 04:51 pm
2
11
Urban core

The city of Augusta had nothing to do with the $100 million Kroc, or the surrounding developments associated with the building. The government can't stop private developers from investing their own money. Their going to look at the crime rates, median income, daytime population, residential population, etc. This is the reason behind private developers being more interesting in Olde Town compare to Harrisburg at the moment. The same rason why the CBD is attracting tons of private investment, and Laney Walker is still going through a transition phase. The city should protect their investment in Laney Walker/Bethlehem, and the crime rate appears to be dropping.

The CBD, Medical District, Laney Walker, Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Olde Town, Waters Edge, Turpin Hill, etc all help make up the urban core.. I think the city is finally getting their act together in terms of centralized developments.

Harrisburg- The Kroc Center/additional buildings, Martha Lester school, Mills Campus, and the future Walmart Market shopping center are right next to each other. The bus terminal on Broad could also be sold to a private developer, because the main depot is opening in South Augusta. A multimodal transportation center is needed in the CBD anyway. The buses, future rail, RCSO precinct, electric charging stations, etc..

Medical District- The medical commons, cherry tree redevelopment, Paine college new dorms, cancer center, 15th street widening, 4-5 story private residential building, Walmart market, kroger shopping center demolishing/redevelopment, Laney Walker pedestrian park, etc are located in/around the Medical District.

LW/Bethlehem-The improvements are located in close proximity of each other.

CBD- The GGHF site, Watermark site/train depot, Discovery Plaza aka Ft Discovery, and the proposed Hyatt Place hotel are on/off Reynolds street. The Holiday Inn Express, 901 Broad residential/commercial space, Augusta Lung Associates/other companies at 1301 Broad, Sprint Food & Metro Market, Craft & Vine restaurant, new apts at 1246 Broad, 1022 new residential above Pauley's steakhouse, etc is on Broad street.

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:44 pm
1
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Did you say significant? Is the $10M floating upstream or down?
Unpublished

Did you say significant? Is the $10M floating upstream or down?

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:47 pm
1
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New home of the ARC Casual Water Runoff Management, LLC.
Unpublished

New home of the ARC Casual Water Runoff Management, LLC.

soapy_725
43772
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soapy_725 10/10/13 - 04:50 pm
1
0
CC continues to expand Rain Tax. Rain continues to cause floods.
Unpublished

Built a new building on William Few. Fluid mechanics and a whole county watershed makes for new revenue source. Tax God and damn man.

Gage Creed
17876
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Gage Creed 10/10/13 - 07:31 pm
12
2
More spin than a laundromat

More spin than a laundromat on a Saturday afternoon....

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 10/10/13 - 07:54 pm
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Haha Gage!

Kind of like reading a propaganda brochure, isn't it?

Truth Matters
7217
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Truth Matters 10/10/13 - 08:03 pm
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2
"More spin than a laundromat

"More spin than a laundromat on a Saturday afternoon...."

Hi Cage,
Not saying that I agree, but I like that one. It will go in my little "quick quips" notebook.
Thanks for a laugh at the near-end of a very stressful week for my family.

Truth Matters
7217
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Truth Matters 10/10/13 - 08:05 pm
3
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@ Gage

Oops!
I meant to type "Gage."

palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 10/10/13 - 09:00 pm
0
0
it gets old fast, countyman
Unpublished

it gets old fast, countyman

Gage Creed
17876
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Gage Creed 10/10/13 - 10:21 pm
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☺☺☺ I guess Nortonguy isn't a

☺☺☺ I guess Nortonguy isn't a fan of Laundromat humor...

Citizen and Truth... this opinion stuff is a whole lot more interesting if you can just back up and laugh every now and then (IMHO)

badmoon426
1187
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badmoon426 10/10/13 - 11:39 pm
2
2
Nortonguy/Countyman...

...I love your posts on the City Data site.

But so far has GRU or the Board of Regents specifically asked for a plan for the Mills Campus or the Downtown Cultural Campus? The only people planning for this project seem to me to be the Mayor, Augusta Regional Collaboration Project and anybody else drinking their brand of kool-aid.

From my experience in industry, when you merge two or more organizations together it is done to eliminate redundancies and increase profitability. So exactly why is this merger assumed to be a cause for celebration for the huge expansion of facilities for GRU? Why?

Considering University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University all are flagship schools in the Board of Regents system and all have decided claims on the overall state education budget, what will be GRU's budget for the next year? Budget is always jealously maintained by the universities and I am sure there is back door meetings to keep GRU's budget in check to the benefit of these other schools. Plus, all three universities are recognized for various academic achievements and have international programs. Other than the medical school, where does GRU fall? ASU by comparison to the flagship universities of Georgia's education system has a small graduate program with little to limited national or international recognition.

As for the mayors comment about what 18 year with kayak wouldn't want to attend GRU located on the canal, I ask you this what potential student in today's world isn't going to college learning to grow and expand their knowledge of the world ending up with a potential at a career or are they simply going to paddle a kayak on the canal?

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 10/11/13 - 07:49 am
2
3
Interesting

It continually interests me that so many people seem to find reasons why something won't work, but yet offer no suggestions as to how something can work. Perhaps they are afflicted with some strange malady which prevents them from appreciating the efforts of others. But, then, again, perhaps they are just very small people who have nothing better to do...

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 10/11/13 - 08:21 am
1
1
@ Aug Cit

The tex-mex joint was Gringo Carrerra's. I was working there when it closed. We got to raid the pantry and had a little shindig after closing that last evening. They also had this little putting green game where the green would morph shapes to create a new challenge. Pretty neato.

KSL
134766
Points
KSL 10/11/13 - 10:43 am
1
1
I just wish it could be

I just wish it could be something like Ft. Discovery. We took our visiting grandchildren there. Sad, sad, sad, what has happened to that area. Cudos to the downtown business ieople who are hanging on.

Wish you you had leaders who could work together.

badmoon426
1187
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badmoon426 10/11/13 - 11:24 am
0
1
Apologies...

...for my long winded response but sometimes you just read or hear enough.

raul
5334
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raul 10/11/13 - 11:52 am
3
1
http://www.wjbf.com/video?cli

http://www.wjbf.com/video?clipId=9401881&autostart=true Augusta Regional Collaboration Project Director Matt Kwatinetz, declined to comment afterward. Well, he didn't exactly decline to comment, did he? Rude. I don't think he is from the South. Not too smart to alienate the local media.

corgimom
34234
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corgimom 10/11/13 - 03:03 pm
1
1
With that white elephant,

With that white elephant, "significant interest" means taking a picture of it with a cell phone.

Pops
10577
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Pops 10/11/13 - 07:25 pm
1
0
Flash back

to the eighties when the riverfront development was going to save the city.
S t i l l w a i t i n g........................

Gage Creed
17876
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Gage Creed 10/11/13 - 08:02 pm
0
0
Matthew Kwatinetz.....

Matthew Kwatinetz..... "You're seriously jeopardizing this deal happening, you should back off,"

Sounds eerily similar to... you've got the pass the bill to see what's in the bill.

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