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Walton Way campus could be site of growth for consolidated university, officials say

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Augusta State University could become the site of new dorms, parking decks and academic buildings to accommodate potential student growth from its consolidation with Georgia Health Sciences University, particularly freshmen living on campus, said facilities directors from the two universities.

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With nearly half of its Walton Way campus devoted to surface parking, Augusta State University could become the site of new dorms, parking decks and academic buildings to accommodate potential student growth from its consolidation with Georgia Health Sciences University.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
With nearly half of its Walton Way campus devoted to surface parking, Augusta State University could become the site of new dorms, parking decks and academic buildings to accommodate potential student growth from its consolidation with Georgia Health Sciences University.

Ongoing studies and enrollment projections will determine what and how much will be built, but whatever is added will be in keeping with current architectural style and will not overwhelm the neighborhood, the officials said.

In response to a Georgia Open Records Act request, officials shared planning and conceptual drawings they are making as they do preliminary planning.

Before the consolidation was announced in January, ASU had been planning to expand its Wrightsboro Road campus, said Campus Architect Fred Ricketson.

“We were moving from a commuter campus to a destination campus,” he said.

But after consolidation, working with counterparts at GHSU, the Walton Way campus was also considered. Surface parking lots make up about 50 percent of that campus, said Phil Howard, the vice president for facilities service.

“If we could solve parking in a different way, we could free up a lot of real estate for development,” he said.

The ASU and GHSU facilities staffs have taken the map of the Walton Way campus and dropped buildings in different places, trying out several concepts. For instance, some planning has included parking decks “because we are going to displace parking if we build on surface parking,” Howard said.

One concept that was included on several drawings had a deck, or possibly dorms, built into a hill in the campus’ southwest corner near the intersection of Arsenal Avenue and McDowell Street because it would help it blend in better, Ricketson said.

“Because of the hill, you disguise the height of it,” he said.

Other plans include repurposing existing buildings, Howard said.

Any new buildings will not tower over the surroundings homes, said Jennifer Smith, the director of planning, design and construction management at GHSU.

“We are extremely sensitive” to the concerns of neighbors, she said.

“Our goal would be not to go over four stories” tall, Howard said. None of the buildings currently on campus is taller than four stories, Ricketson said.

Another goal is to have new structures retain the architectural styles on the campus, such as white columns and certain roof styles, while also seeking to unify the campuses, Ricketson said.

The universities have consultants conducting student needs assessment, parking and transportation studies and classroom utilization, Smith said. Another consolidation working group is doing enrollment projections.

Originally, ASU planned to add 600 student beds, phasing in 200 at a time, Ricketson said.

Any new beds will likely be phased in also, Howard said, and anything added will be done in a way that would not hinder future growth.

“We want to keep in mind years down the road,” Smith said. The group is playing with the idea of keeping things in zones, such as an academic zone, “and then let the needs assessments tell us the size,” she said.

Anything built other than an academic building would be paid for by operation fees. A dining hall, for instance, would be financed by meal plan sales, Howard said.

“They have to support themselves through a business plan based on fees,” he said. Concepts for the Wrightsboro Road campus now appear to be limited to recreation areas, intramural fields and additional parking. Officials said those plans might involve the acquisition of more property along Wrightsboro Road and across Damascus Road.

In a memo to officials at the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, there is a proposal “to have mandatory student housing requirements for incoming freshmen.” The new university would need the housing to attract students from farther away and improve retention of students, Howard said.

“If we don’t build it, we can be assured they won’t come,” he said.

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Riverman1
93477
Points
Riverman1 08/22/12 - 05:21 pm
2
1
Positively the Right Idea

Look at the College of Charleston and realize how a school can fit into a historic downtown area. You also don't have to keep the campus facilities contiguous with the current campus. You can hopscotch out if necessary. The Wrightsboro Rd property should be kept for athletics.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/22/12 - 05:27 pm
2
1
Good focus. Releasing

Good focus. Releasing sketches would be better.

Exactly River. The GHoF site ties downtown into things. Plenty of dirt at the old VA Hosp to expand intramural sports.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 08/22/12 - 05:47 pm
5
1
Fire Azziz

Will someone with "social media" savvy please create an online petition to have Ricardo Azziz removed from office? Please!

corgimom
38317
Points
corgimom 08/22/12 - 06:31 pm
0
3
ASU has tried to modernize

ASU has tried to modernize for many years (30+ and counting) but the Hill residents won't let them. Summerville Neighborhood Association, for one. And they will say- and rightfully so- the surrounding streets can't take any more traffic, and those Walton Way homeowners AIN'T giving up their front yards.

When they tore down that horrible old guard shack, the Hill people screamed bloody murder- and that was for a dangerous, tiny little shack.

This'll be REALLY interesting!

Benjamin Paine
233
Points
Benjamin Paine 08/22/12 - 07:15 pm
5
0
Minor details.

Although the USG can back bonds supported by additional fees (what is an additional couple hundred million of debt when you have billions) to pay for dorms and related construction, where are the funds coming from for the other facilities and operational needs? It is always great to dream but aren't budgets being cut at both schools and isn't the state expecting revenues to be lower than projected? Even if budgets do recover, will the state really put more into the Regents' budget and will the Regents send it to Augusta rather than Atlanta or Athens?

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 08/22/12 - 07:01 pm
4
0
One reason over 50% of the

One reason over 50% of the campus is parking area is that the original six barracks buildings that housed the classrooms for the original Augusta College were right in the middle of the campus. They had to remain in place while the new buildings were being constructed on the outer perimiter of the campus. So now they have plenty of room right smack dab in the middle of the campus to do whatever they want with. And don't worry, if high rise dorms are in the future, I am sure Azziz will make sure they go through. After all, he does not care what anyone thinks of the new name, so he certainly won't let the concerns of the residents of Summerville stop any plans he has.

Riverman1
93477
Points
Riverman1 08/22/12 - 08:28 pm
4
3
If you use the hopscotch

If you use the hopscotch method, The Partridge Inn could be utilized and saved as part of the college. It's barely hanging on now. I believe everyone would welcome that to keep it from going the way of the Bon Air.

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 08/22/12 - 08:35 pm
3
1
By the way, SemperParatus,

By the way, SemperParatus, right now they can't figure whose nose is where to get to Azziz, and frankly I think they like it. Looks like Azziz is here to stay.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 08/22/12 - 09:14 pm
1
3
multiple urban campuses outside of the MD..

I'm glad to see new construction announced for the Summerville campus, but the Wrightsboro campus has more potential in the long run.. The main campus won't allowed buildings of an certain height, and it's pretty much landlocked.. The only advantage is the Summerville Campus is closer to the CBD & Medical District.. The proximity can't denied if were trying to connect the CBD/Medical District/Paine College via rail, and expand to the Summerville Campus in the future.

Since the students are paying for the majority of new construction anyway, the acres of land off Damascus rd is perfect for housing ranging from 5-10 stories tall.. The shopping center right next to the University Village could be purchased in order to construct several new housing developments..

What happen to becoming the 'national' university? I'm sorry but 4 story buildings won't cut it against the big boys... The GGHF site in the CBD must include plans to construct buildings over 4 stories...

KSL
143530
Points
KSL 08/22/12 - 10:52 pm
3
0
Hey, GT is already ranked in

Hey, GT is already ranked in the top 5 engineering schools in the country. Let's keep those students safe. Move the whole shabang to Peachtree City.

allhans
24864
Points
allhans 08/22/12 - 11:58 pm
2
0
Housing should have been

Housing should have been located at the Walton Way campus long ago.
Take a lesson from the Augusta National and buy up surrounding houses...
The area of Wrightsboro Rd with current housing is much too far from campus.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 08/23/12 - 12:58 am
2
1
The only nearby properties

The only nearby properties ASU can purchase would be located around the Sand Hills neighborhood.. I think investing into Sand Hills can help improve both the neighborhood and school. But the University would go broke trying to buy the homes in Summerville.. Hopefully GHSU can help revitalize Laney Walker, Harrisburg, and the 15th street corridor(Sunset/Cherry Tree going towards South Augusta)..

The West Campus is maybe 5-10 minutes away from the Summerville campus..

David P. Click the word photo on the link for the renderings.

Riverman1
93477
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 03:46 am
3
1
Again, the College of

Again, the College of Charleston managed to expand over that historic city with limitations such as keeping buildings 4 stories or under. Having dorms near the main campus means residents are automatically brought into the urban area. Existing old houses can be utilized for certain things if they are bought. We would be missing an opportunity if we didn't move that way. Again, it does not have to be contiguous with the campus as it moves toward MCG.

The Wrightsboro Rd property is great for athletics. I don't know why we are debating where the growth should be because it looks like expansion at the Walton Way campus is already the plan. The Wrightsboro Rd. previous plans have been thrown out.

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 08/23/12 - 06:06 am
0
0
We can definitely trust
Unpublished

the leadership of GRU. They will be GRU....AT, after then merge with Augusta Tech.

Little Lamb
48959
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 06:58 am
2
0
Old School

Today's student is not interested in dormitories. Privately-owned apartments and small rental apartments such as duplexes would help out private investors and keep the state out of the real estate business.

my.voice
5166
Points
my.voice 08/23/12 - 06:58 am
4
1
Notice how easily Azziz took

Notice how easily Azziz took the heat off the name change with this "convenient" release? Do you folks really think this just came up? One has to admit the man is good at controlling the news.

Little Lamb
48959
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 06:59 am
3
0
Parking Decks

The parking decks are absolutely crucial for proper utilization of the Arsenal Campus property. Build the decks and build them high. There is a lot of real estate on the Arsenal Campus wasted with blacktop.

Riverman1
93477
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 07:13 am
1
1
Countyman said, "The

Countyman said, "The proximity can't denied if were trying to connect the CBD/Medical District/Paine College via rail, and expand to the Summerville Campus in the future."

I guess I should be used to these type suggestions to spend taxpayers money by now, but how much do you think a rail would cost? Did you see the business article about Augusta losing jobs and business being down in the area?

"Augusta’s situation will be weaker than the state’s. The metro area will see a 0.5 percent decline in jobs this year and add only 0.2 percent in 2013, according to the outlook from the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University."

I really think someone who used to run a carwash runs the agency promoting the city.

Little Lamb
48959
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 08:37 am
0
1
Sensitive

From the story:

“We are extremely sensitive” to the concerns of neighbors, said Jennifer Smith, the director of planning, design and construction management at GHSU.

They weren't sensitive to the concerns of neighbors regarding the Grooo name.

Fiat_Lux
16419
Points
Fiat_Lux 08/23/12 - 08:39 am
1
0
Use SCAD's example

In Savannah, SCAD has bought up tons of real estate all over the downtown and mid-town area, to great advantage for the students and the school. That savvy moved also really helped Savannah a great deal.

Steve Crawford
99
Points
Steve Crawford 08/23/12 - 09:30 am
3
0
my.voice

This wasn't the result of a careful release by Dr. Azziz. It was the result of an Open Records request by The Augusta Chronicle. Just because everyone hates the name, doesn't mean the business of consolidation isn't continuing. We will keep reporting that as well.

newsjunkie10
6
Points
newsjunkie10 08/23/12 - 11:11 am
1
3
ASU Expansion

I am happy they have plans to expand ASU, but let's be pragmatic. There are so many old buildings in the downtown and Hill area that could be renovated to be used for academic and living purposes. Riverman has a great idea to use the Partridge Inn as housing for students. It has been close to extinction for a while now. The Bon Air Hotel has gone to waste. It was once a beautiful vacation facility for northerners and golfers. The people living there could be relocated somehow. The Wrightsboro Rd site is in a commercial area. Let's put some of these buildings over there. There is already a shuttle running from there to the main campus. What's the problem?

I don't want to see high rise dormitories and parking decks built in The Hill area. That would be hideous. Let's fight to preserve our historic areas. Walton Way has so many beautiful houses that are pleasing to look at. Let's keep it that way. We don't need to let these bureaucrats keep taking away our history. Augusta is proud of its heritage so let's do some sensible things with what we have instead of adding to it. I hope the Summerville Association will hold its ground.

I graduated from ASU and am proud of it. My sister graduated from the Medical College of GA. Both of these schools need to preserve their heritages. I don't mind change and growth, but let's see that it is done in a prudent manner.

Azziz needs to go. He does not fit in here. He has been nothing but an irritant to the community since he got here. The first thing he did was change the name of the college, spending millions of dollars to get everything changed over; that was just plain stupid, especiallly since he already knew of the plans to merge the schools.

Let's get the name changed to what the Augusta people want and then work on getting the expansion plans on the right track. Although, they don't care what we want. Just another government takeover.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/23/12 - 12:52 pm
1
0
Regarding the Partridge.

Regarding the Partridge. Hostmark runs that now and they have unlimited resources to carry it. I don't know how "bad off" they are and I truly don't feel they are interested in closing shop to donate or broker some deal for the college to utilize it. Maybe so, but I've got a perspective on this one. Thanks CMan on the photos. That's exactly what I was thinking of.

Put the dorms in the middle of summerville. It's got the charm and just makes for a better experience from the students' viewpoint. Some downtown wouldn't be the poorest idea i've heard today either.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 08/23/12 - 01:20 pm
1
1
Riverman.. It's called an

David P.. I doubt Riverman knows what kind of financial shape the Partridge Inn is in either.. He barely leaves the surrounding area of Martinez, but knows everything about Augusta/RC..

Riverman.. It's called an general outlook, and it's not 100% accurate... The reality is Bridgestone, Starbucks, Plant Vogtle, Rockwood, etc are just ramping up in the year 2012... The other reality is 17 acres will be developed in the CBD, the $100 million cancer center & $76 million medical commons are coming to the Medical District, the HEAL facility is underway at Paine College, and future growth is headed towards both ASU campuses.. Plus nobody is asking for tax payer money from the residents of Columbia County..

Myvoice... Dr. Azziz mention these plans for ASU back in April of 2012..

The overwhelmingly majority of students would prefer to live in the CBD over Summerville.. You can easily walk or bike to the clubs, theatres, retail stores, bars, riverwalk, festivals, parades, restuarants, in the CBD... The only core of businesses near ASU is the Kings Way/Monte Sano area of Midtown/Summerville..

soapy_725
44110
Points
soapy_725 08/23/12 - 04:06 pm
0
0
CBD retail stores would be?????
Unpublished

What? Groceries, clothing, hardware, automotive, computer, office supplies. Or this, alcohol, parties, night clubs, parades, alcohol, entertainment........

Riverman1
93477
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 04:20 pm
0
0
State taxes don't fund ASU

State taxes don't fund ASU and MCG? We all know why the Partridge was sold. It didn't bring a lot either.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/23/12 - 05:09 pm
0
0
Makes me think of Squeaky's

Makes me think of Squeaky's TIp Top

Benjamin Paine
233
Points
Benjamin Paine 08/23/12 - 08:11 pm
1
0
Goodbye ASU?

Regent Hopkins (sp?) was just on the news. He was saying how they are investigation $150 million in GRU and that they are building a great "Health Center". Don't know if this was a slip or not but it is telling in that the investment is not to build a comprehensive university. Explains the lack of funding for the ASU projects. He might as well say goodbye ASU. Sad day.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 08/23/12 - 05:43 pm
0
0
Wonderful ideas and
Unpublished

Wonderful ideas and suggestions for an area that is already jammed tight. And the thought that they will be able to do all this and cap building floors at 4 is just a laugh. P.S. in case they want to know it, a destination or a commuter campus both have one requirement and that is student cars, unless they plan on banning them or charging such an enormous parking rate that students can't afford to drive while in school. Lastly, if they need advice on how to do a parking deck just ask the city or the RCBOE and they can surely help with planning.

Riverman1
93477
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 06:53 pm
0
0
"The overwhelmingly majority

"The overwhelmingly majority of students would prefer to live in the CBD over Summerville"

I agree with that unless you are talking about the Wrightsboro property and I don't think you are. Having dorms somewhere downtown from the campus would be keeping with my hopscotch over town suggestion. I do think having some dorms on the campus would be good, probably for freshmen.

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