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Historic GRU buildings undergo $1.2 million in renovations

Sunday, March 31, 2013 5:18 PM
Last updated Monday, April 1, 2013 1:21 AM
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Project Superintendent Paul Clark walks through the downstairs entryway of the   Maxwell House at the Summerville campus of Georgia Regents University. The house is undergoing renovations.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Project Superintendent Paul Clark walks through the downstairs entryway of the Maxwell House at the Summerville campus of Georgia Regents University. The house is undergoing renovations.

Georgia Regents University is in the midst of $1.2 million in renovation work at two historic buildings at the former Augusta State University campus as part of a plan to consolidate its disparate campuses onto one system.

About $100,000 of that money is going toward a renovation and new furnishings for the Maxwell Alumni House at 2339 McDowell St. Workers are refinishing floors and painting the interior walls of the 100-year-old building, which will continue to be used for GRU alumni affairs, according to university spokeswoman Christen Carter.

Carter said GRU Government Affairs will take up space on the second floor.

Across Katherine Street is where most of the money is being spent. The older and larger Boykin Wright house is undergoing a major renovation to make room for administrative offices for Provost Gretchen B. Caughman and for Carol Rychly, the vice president for academic and faculty affairs.

Caughman currently has an office on the Health Sciences campus downtown, while Rychly has an office in Bellevue Hall on the Summerville campus. Carter said the purpose is to consolidate administration for academic and student affairs under one roof.

The renovation work, which includes demolition and removal of asbestos and installing a new fire sprinkler system and a new heating and air-conditioning system ,is estimated to cost $833,000, according to documents obtained through an open records request.

“Many of the systems in the building, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical have never been updated,” Carter said. “Over the years Augusta State University did a good job of preserving this resource but was unable to attain the necessary funding to perform the required upgrades to the building.”

The two-story home of former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Boykin Wright was constructed in 1896, according to county records. It was given to the university by his daughter, Marguerite Wright Hillman, according to university history.

While the Maxwell house project is almost finished, the Boykin Wright renovation has just begun. Carter said the projected timeline for the completion of that project is in July.

GRU plans to spend about $276,000 on new furnishings when the work is complete.

According to the documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, chairs alone for the new offices will cost more than $88,000, with the average cost per chair exceeding $1,000. A few cost more than twice that amount.

Furnishings for Caughman’s office on the second floor are estimated at more than $28,000, and about $17,000 is estimated for Rychly’s. Two of the conference rooms are each set to cost more than $60,000, which is more than the $50,000 allotted for all new furnishings at the Maxwell House.

Desks will cost about $33,000. Throw in a $5,000 sofa, a $7,000 rug and about $30,000 for custom drapes and the numbers start to add up.

Carter said the university does keep a warehouse of surplus furniture that can be used for new office spaces, but the pickings are slim.

“It’s really piecemeal,” she said. “It’s not like you can go in there and find a table with a complete set of matching chairs.”

Carter said most of the renovations are required to bring the building up to current code standards. Furnishings are selected to match the Boykin Wright building’s age and history.

“There will be some minor upgrades to the finishes such as painting and new floor coverings to match the historic character of the building,” she said.

Comments (16) Add comment
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triscuit
3086
Points
triscuit 03/31/13 - 06:44 pm
4
1
Hopefully this overpriced

Hopefully this overpriced furniture is being purchased from a local company. Hard to believe those would be the lowest of any state bid.

Sweet son
10415
Points
Sweet son 03/31/13 - 07:04 pm
3
2
How unCool can Axxix be?

Someone/somebody has got to stop him!!!!!!!!! Wonder what his new office will cost?

I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 03/31/13 - 08:16 pm
0
0
This is crazy. This guy is
Unpublished

This is crazy. This guy is spending millions and millions of our tax dollars on stuff no one here wants. Doesn't he know we are all trying to save money and he is breaking the bank with a new freaking project month after month. Am I the only person really upset about the Azziz madness??? He has to be stopped, and stopped now. He is tearing our city apart while putting it further in the hole. Teachers, Policemen, Fireman, and the average Joe are being furloughed, and he's painting walls and refinishing floors that aren't necessary!!! Please someone do something now!

just an opinion
2638
Points
just an opinion 03/31/13 - 08:54 pm
7
1
A Really Bad Example

Someone step in and STOP this excessive and wasteful spending immediately! Provost Caughman does not need $1,000 chairs, a $5,000 sofa nor a $7,000 rug. And she certainly doesn't need $30,000 drapes. Don't forget the desks cost $33,000. This is really going to hurt the students and other faculty's morale! This is a really BAD example!

prov227
3157
Points
prov227 03/31/13 - 11:37 pm
2
1
Fundraising may be affected ...

by this kind of information. I guess nothing can be too good for the taxpayers, students and alumni. This does seem extravagant.

Little Lamb
46059
Points
Little Lamb 04/01/13 - 07:43 am
2
1
Boy Named Sue

Do you remember this line from the Johnny Cash song (written by Shel Silverstein): —

It's that name that helped make you strong.

Commissioner Bill Lockett and Mayor Deke Copenhaver have been trying to tell us that none of this money would have come to the merged university under any other name than Grooo.

auggaguy
39
Points
auggaguy 04/01/13 - 07:55 am
3
1
How ironic

How ironic. Jeff Maxwell, who donated the Maxwell Alumni House, was a no nonsense, conservative furniture merchant. He is probably turning over in his grave.

Mr. Maxwell was known for escorting pushy salesmen out of his business by the seat of their pants. I would have loved to see him escort Azziz out in the same fashion.

JRC2024
8885
Points
JRC2024 04/01/13 - 08:34 am
3
3
Good furniture and drapes

Good furniture and drapes that will last cost a lot. It is much better to buy good up front that will last a very long time than to replace cheap in a couple of years.

GIJane
14
Points
GIJane 04/01/13 - 08:55 am
6
1
As someone who ..

As someone who works at one of the campuses...I can assure you that nothing was wrong with the furniture that were in any of those buildings, the buildings had been renovated before-may have needed a little work but not much. just saying

razordog
195
Points
razordog 04/01/13 - 10:52 am
3
1
Maybe someone should take tips from

Phin Hitchcock from Heritage Academy. That man KNOWS how to raise funds, work off of a minimal budget, and still have a beautiful functioning school. They purchased tables and chairs from the old Augusta Library, made a conference room table from an old door, and are very proud of what they have accomplished. I guess furniture such as that is not good enough for the good doctor, though. He's just not happy unless dollars are being spent and wasted!

NrthAugustaSam
475
Points
NrthAugustaSam 04/01/13 - 11:15 am
2
1
Spending now, but wait....

Just wait till the furloughs, layoffs come.

Skooter
64
Points
Skooter 04/01/13 - 12:05 pm
3
1
I don't question the need for improvements and updating,

however, the timing is not correct. GA state employees have not had a cost-of-living pay increases for 5 years now. $30,000 for cosmetic items such as drapes are an affront to the senses.

prov227
3157
Points
prov227 04/01/13 - 12:20 pm
2
1
What is the difference ...

A commenter wrote: "Good furniture and drapes that will last cost a lot. It is much better to buy good up front that will last a very long time than to replace cheap in a couple of years."

Is this the alumni house of a taxpayer/student/alumni supported institution of higher education or a presidential palace? A $3000 sofa might last sufficiently long for its purpose, etc. The prices that are being allocated seem extravagant to this alumni (or the value of the "dollar" has declined or GRU lacks market negotiating power). I'm concerned about the effect on fundraising from alumni when this type of information comes to light.

twentieth century man
102
Points
twentieth century man 04/01/13 - 01:05 pm
2
1
foundations, other third parties

Is it not possible that the origin of this money is the foundations, or other third party organizations associated with what was once MCG or ASU (e.g. MCG Foundation, ASU Foundation, PPG, MCG Health Inc., etc.)? If so, should not the assets and income of these foundations have been frozen prior to the merger of these educational entities. Memoranda of understanding should have been updated in terms of institutional nomenclature. The real incentive of the Board of Regents to merge these institutions was to utilize foundation assets to pay for the merger costs. Yet, possibly these foundations are funding an institution which they were not empowered to support. Their funds have been "repurposed." Why should Dr Azziz' PPG supplement continue to be funded if he is no longer at MCG? Why should the ex-MCG Health Inc. continue to support MCG, if MCG no longer exists. These "third-party" not-for-profit organizations are semi-independent and should be kept at "arms length" from the organizations that they support. These organizations should be audited and closely scrutinized.

Little Lamb
46059
Points
Little Lamb 04/01/13 - 01:18 pm
1
1
A Day

What do you think they will call "A Day" next time it's time for the annual alumni fundraising campaign?

Frenchified
84
Points
Frenchified 04/01/13 - 01:29 pm
2
1
chairs

Desk chairs @ $1000-$2000? Isn't this just a LITTLE excessive?

charles6780
203
Points
charles6780 04/01/13 - 07:53 pm
0
0
GRU Renovations

In light of the economic downturn, the expenditures for the offices of Caughman and Rychly are excessive. The Maxwell house under goes paint and limited renovations, totally around 100,00.00, yet it services a large number of the ASU/GRU population. Yet the offices of two individuals (plus staff) will eat up the rest of this extravagant budget ( million - two). Yes, upgrades to the building codes are necessary, but the rest of this is ludicrous. Shame on GRU for allowing this to happen. A budget of 276,000.00 for furnishings:chairs for $88,000, Caughmen's office $28,000, and about $17,000 is estimated for Rychly’s, two conference rooms at $60,000.00, desks will cost about $33,000, throw in a $5,000 sofa, a $7,000 rug and about $30,000 for custom drapes and as a taxpayer I am seeing red. With consolidation cuts being made to insure a "merger", it seems that the pillaging is being felt by ASU and the spoils are going to GRU. Another waste of taxpayer funds, add to this the cost of the bogus name survey, and slick photo- shopped brochures. Wasteful, wasteful, wasteful.

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