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Starbucks workers help renovate Broad Street building

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A vacant Broad Street building that once housed the chamber of commerce is still under renovation by the Augusta Regional Collaboration Project. But while it is being prepared for permanent tenants, the building is serving temporarily as event space for community groups.

On Thursday, more than 30 employees from the new Starbucks soluble facility volunteered to renovate the city-owned I.M. Pei building on the 600 block, which was built in the early 1970s and vacated by the Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

The group painted walls, prepped floors, stained base boards on the bottom floor and upstairs atrium in preparation for more permanent tenants that have yet to be determined.

“While it doesn’t look completed, we’re still using it,” said Stephanie Senn, who was recently brought on board as a volunteer for the ARC Project. “We want to use it as much as we can. Now is the time to get this going, especially for what ARC’s trying to do, which is to get this area showcased as a cultural and arts district.”

Senn said a group of Georgia Regents University students were the latest to occupy the space last week for an art show.

The idea to turn the former chamber building into an arts and cultural hub came about last October when ARC Project executive director Matthew Kwatinetz announced plans to create a “co-working” collaboration and cafe space. To date, about $100,000 in city funds have been used to improve the building’s infrastructure, such as repairing the roof, abating asbestos and removing mold from the property, said Al Dallas, executive assistant to Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

The long-term plan for the center is to provide community space and serve as an incubator environment for businesses and nonprofit organizations. Entities paying rent would help make the facility self-sustaining, Dallas said.

“Back six months ago, it was going to be a jazz bar,” Dallas said. “It was going to be a coffee shop. Those are all possibilities, but we want to find something that’s reflective of what the community wants.”

Senn said they’re in the process of getting input from local musicians, artists and community-based nonprofits.
The ARC Project is leasing the building from the city for five years.

Starbucks also has given a $200,000 contribution to help fund the ARC Project.

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Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 05/08/14 - 09:04 pm
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Hold up on red shag carpet

Hold up on red shag carpet and swag lamps....

countyman
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countyman 05/08/14 - 09:39 pm
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Awesome!!!

The private-public partnership created between the city and private companies/developers is the best way to improve Augusta quickly..

The ARC project continues to improve the quality of life in Augusta and their other project(Mills/Cultural districts) will change the face of Augusta..

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 05/08/14 - 09:44 pm
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Well.. at least he didn't say

Well.. at least he didn't say Move Augusta Forward......

corgimom
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corgimom 05/09/14 - 02:07 am
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Oh, no more jazz cafe? Gee,

Oh, no more jazz cafe?

Gee, is any SPLOST money going to be used to make it into an arts and cultural hub?

And how is it going to be an arts and cultural hub while at the same time be a community space and an incubator environment for business?

The distinct impression that I get is that the City of Augusta has spent $100,000 of taxpayer money for a building that nobody wants, or needs, or has any use for.

Only in Augusta is $100,000 spent on an empty building that has no definite usage plans, changes intent every other week, and that will wind up being a seldom-used taxpayer supported facility. Now, tha sounds familiar! Hey, I know! How about calling it The Mini TEE Center?

corgimom
34642
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corgimom 05/09/14 - 02:08 am
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But who in the *$%^ decided

But who in the *$%^ decided it would be a good idea to hire Matt Kwatinetz, whose only talent appears to be coming up with hare-brained ideas that nobody supports?

corgimom
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corgimom 05/09/14 - 02:10 am
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But I just wonder how

But I just wonder how "voluntary" that work day was.

Because I can't imagine anything more unpleasant than to have to give up time to do hard physical WORK on a building that you don't own and don't care about in the slightest.

corgimom
34642
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corgimom 05/09/14 - 02:25 am
5
5
But I'm curious. How does

But I'm curious.

How does the ARC building improve the quality of life in Augusta?

I can pretty well guess that when it comes to improving the quality of life in Augusta, the taxpayers would rather have better schools, repaired roads, and less crime, and don't much care about that building.

But I also don't understand- the mills have been there for over 100+ years, so how is renovating them going to change the face of Augusta?

Did the Enterprise Mill project change the face of Augusta? No.

Pops
10890
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Pops 05/09/14 - 08:05 am
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1
That ugly building needs

to be torn down. It was built back when downtown was deteriorating and was supposed to help to "revitalize" (ever heard that before) the CDB. Get rid of the building and help put Broad Street back to the way it looked when I was a kid........

raul
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raul 05/09/14 - 08:07 am
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Corgimom is on a roll this

Corgimom is on a roll this morning. Good questions.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 05/09/14 - 08:28 am
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Matthew Kwatinetz ...

I have met with Matt several times over the past few months and I can tell you that Augusta rarely has a person of his caliber working for us.

Not only does he have a solid business mind (backed up by a sheepskin from Wharton) he also appreciates the arts and has really tried to understand the culture of Augusta.

As folks may or may not know about me, I have no problem speaking truth to power and Matt is a complete asset to Augusta. Bringing him here will be one of the things Mayor Copenhaver will be able to tout if Matt's abilities are used properly.

I am impressed, and that's not easy to do these days.

Brad

chrishardyworld
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chrishardyworld 05/09/14 - 08:57 am
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something tells me that it'll

something tells me that it'll eventually end up being a starbucks....

raul
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raul 05/09/14 - 09:16 am
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Not a bad idea

Not a bad idea chrishardyworld.

bdouglas
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bdouglas 05/09/14 - 09:33 am
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Starbucks

As long as it's a 24 hour store...those exotic dancers have gotta stay energized late/early!

countyman
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countyman 05/09/14 - 11:14 am
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Excellent!!!

The city of Augusta invested $100,000, but Starbucks donated $200,000 and the private sector kicked in another $100,000... Starbucks also provided free labor to help renovate the building..

The building can be used for the purpose of numerous things.. The leaders of Fort Gordon, GRU, SRS, Georgia Power, etc had already expressed interest before the renovation started... The last group to use the facility downtown were GRU students.. The TEE Center is doing fine and the first new hotel construction downtown in decades is end the result(Holiday Inn Express).

The company Starbucks first hired Matt Kwatinetz to find the perfect spot for their $172 million plant.. The plant is now located in South Augusta, and the mayor decided to let Mr. Kwatinetz lead the ARC.. Mr. Kwatinetz is very familiar with the local economy and demographics in Richmond County..

The building will provide the ability for community leaders, arts groups, government officials, ordinary citizens, etc to interact... The building will be open and not a vacant eyesore which attracts new construction.. New construction provides the funds to pay for new roads, public safety, etc..

The mills are included in the Mills/Cultural District and the proposal will easily change the face of Augusta. The Board of Regents want GRU to build 600 dorms by 2016 and 1,200 by 2018... The GGHF site can't support all of the new dorms and the mills are now in play...

The Sibley Mill by itself is much larger compared to the Enterprise Mill.. The Mills district includes the surrounding property around the mills and the properties will connect to the Medical District.. The Enterprise Mill is one building and has done wonderful things for downtown Augusta. The building is always 100% leased and it's hard to find an residential opening.. The company rural sourcing brought 100 IT jobs and they plan on expanding.. The company Southpoint Media opened last summer and other companies inside the building have recently expanded..

Gage Creed
17968
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Gage Creed 05/09/14 - 03:21 pm
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Free labor? Volunteer? The

Free labor? Volunteer? The mayor decided? The mayor is a lame duck.

Can I get a translation? "The building will be open and not a vacant eyesore which attracts new construction.."

Butterman
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Butterman 05/09/14 - 05:33 pm
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Daisy
Unpublished

Will Daisy perform for the grand opening? Will Brad Owens get the security contract? Maybe he can get them to hire his uniformed militia to patrol around the grounds with uzis

Conservative Man
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Conservative Man 05/09/14 - 06:33 pm
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This is...

…a complete and total boondoggle…

Matthew Kwatinetz is front man for the "elites" in this town who want to further their interests at the expense of MY pocketbook..

K is here for the "goodies" provided by the taxpayers, period…

My prediction is that if SPLOST VII fails, Kwatinetz will disappear faster than a rain drop on a hot summer blacktop..

Vote NO on SPLOST VII...

Conservative Man
5577
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Conservative Man 05/09/14 - 06:35 pm
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Brad...

…generally you have good instincts..

But on this one?…Not so much...

Lori Davis
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Lori Davis 05/09/14 - 06:53 pm
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No deal

Matt Kwatinetz came out of no where to woo certain people into believing that he knows what is best for Augusta, REALLY? The stupidest thing he said since he has been here is to give the Augusta Collaborative Project the 5.5 million for the mills district and this will change everything in the city. Including infrastructure issues. WJBF did not even bother to post that video of these asinine comments from last night. As a matter of fact, WJBF's Brad Means mentioned that last night's broadcast of the interview with Kwantinetz left more questions than answers. I would concur. What ever is going on in this town is totally ridiculous. Yes, Matt K. has a glowing resume, but as soon as the SPLOST is defeated, he will be history. He was brought into Augusta for a reason, which is for the betterment of him and those who brought him here. But not the betterment of Augusta..

Gage Creed
17968
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Gage Creed 05/09/14 - 08:10 pm
2
2
Seems to me Lori Davis made a

Seems to me Lori Davis made a great summation...

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 05/09/14 - 08:46 pm
1
1
Sorry Countyman. There is no

Sorry Countyman. There is no proof that Matt Kwatinetz ever worked for Starbucks.

Riverman1
87489
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Riverman1 05/09/14 - 10:25 pm
2
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Matt Kwatinetz

Heck, it took a long time before they would admit Matt Kwatinetz was being paid by the ARC. So how much does he make? It's funny that the commissioners have no idea what he's being paid, what he's doing, yet voted to give him $5.5 million.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 05/10/14 - 02:02 am
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"Instincts" has noting to do with it.

Having actually had a series of meetings with Matt concerning what he is doing here I am basing my statements on facts and first hand knowledge. I am not going off of rumors, conjecture of plain out made up nonsense. A am also not ruled by ego or emotion like some folks who have commented here and I question the basis for such a show of unreasonable levels of opposition to these projects.

I suggest folks with questions just ask Matt directly, there's no mystery here.

RM1, ARC isn't paying his salary, he is not a county employee.

Brad

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 05/10/14 - 04:49 pm
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Brad... "RM1, ARC isn't

Brad...

"RM1, ARC isn't paying his salary, he is not a county employee."

Is Augusta Regional Collaboration (ARC) not paying the salary for Kwatinetz? Or do we have a mix up of acronyms here?

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