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Official: Laney-Walker development slowed by mills campus plan

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A key development in the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem neighborhood revitalization project lost some traction when the city announced plans to redevelop two historic mills to support the growth of Georgia Regents University, a city leader said Thursday.

Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler said the idea of restoring the former King and Sibley Mills for educational and student housing space was a "stumbling block" for the Foundry Place development along Wrightsboro Road and R.A. Dent Boulevard in Laney-Walker.  FILE
FILE
Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler said the idea of restoring the former King and Sibley Mills for educational and student housing space was a "stumbling block" for the Foundry Place development along Wrightsboro Road and R.A. Dent Boulevard in Laney-Walker.

Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler said the idea of restoring the former King and Sibley Mills for educational and student housing space was a “stumbling block” for the Foundry Place development along Wrightsboro Road and R.A. Dent Boulevard in Laney-Walker.

About 60 people met Thursday night at Beulah Grove Baptist Church for a community meeting updating neighborhood residents on the Laney-Walker/Bethlehem project – a $38.5 million city investment funded by a special 50-year hotel/motel tax.

One of six priority development areas meant to jumpstart revitalization, the Foundry Place is slated as a mixed-use residential and retail area for existing neighborhood residents but heavily targeting university professionals and students.

Housing leaders have had significant planning discussions with university leaders, conducted market research, talked to Waffle House about a location in the area and began working with CSX Corporation to improve the railroad crossing at R.A. Dent Boulevard, Wheeler said. That work will move along more slowly with the mills campus also in the works, he said.

“The mills site is closer to downtown and Broad Street. I think it did probably attract more interest living over there than at the corner (of R.A. Dent and Wrightsboro Road),” Wheeler said.

Atlanta-based Vantage Development was selected as the project developer for Foundry Place, which was named for an old foundry in the area that the city holds a purchase option on. Wheeler said Foundry Place is crucial to further development near Georgia Regents University’s medical campus.

“You can’t start development on Wrights­boro Road until we tackle the foundry,” he said.

The city has acquired properties on Wrightsboro Road from McCauley Street to Lee Beard Way where apartments could be built to support the revitalization efforts.

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Blasphemy
90
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Blasphemy 07/18/13 - 10:22 pm
3
0
Wow! We are in talks with Waffle House!

Well then, let's smother and cover the mill thing.

countyman
20581
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countyman 07/18/13 - 10:51 pm
1
6
Love the vision

The Foundry Place development would be something different(mixed-use)in the area. The city needs to concentrated on filling the gap between the Medical District/Cherry Tree with new residential, sidewalks, commercial, office, and green space.

I'm positive younger people and developers would flock into the area's of Laney Walker located the closes to the Medical District.

corgimom
33953
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corgimom 07/19/13 - 05:42 am
1
2
Absolutely, Augusta needs

Absolutely, Augusta needs another restaurant!

Bodhisattva
6464
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Bodhisattva 07/19/13 - 07:12 am
1
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Which big shots own the land
Unpublished

Which big shots own the land in which areas? That's where the money will go.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 07/19/13 - 07:51 am
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The Waffle House will supply a source for cash withdrawals.
Unpublished

The Waffle House will supply a source for cash withdrawals.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 07/19/13 - 07:51 am
0
0
The Detroit of the South. No joke, FACT.
Unpublished

The Detroit of the South. No joke, FACT.

soapy_725
43757
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soapy_725 07/19/13 - 07:53 am
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Bankruptcy is not a bad thing. The culture survives.
Unpublished

Bankruptcy is not a bad thing. The culture survives.

Riverman1
86792
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Riverman1 07/19/13 - 11:32 am
1
1
Concerning the mills

Concerning the mills campuses, there are simply not enough students to utilize them is the reality.

lovingthesouth72
1378
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lovingthesouth72 07/19/13 - 11:57 am
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2
Typical of this city

Typical of this city government: to blame others for their lack of efficiency. Then how about you all sit around a big table and figure something out. This is the reason nothing progresses in this dear city of ours. Grownups acting like 5 year-old kids that refuse to play together in the same sand box. Pathetic. - Of course they are going to want to make it a black vs white issue. Sheesh.

itsanotherday1
45283
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itsanotherday1 07/19/13 - 12:02 pm
2
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Ya think!!!!!!!!

"I think it did probably attract more interest living over there than at the corner (of R.A. Dent and Wrightsboro Road),” Wheeler said."

thauch12
6850
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thauch12 07/19/13 - 12:23 pm
3
2
Personally, the mills campus

Personally, the mills campus seems like a much better use of the land. If the idea is to make GRU a comprehensive destination university (aka attract students from all over the state and country), something like the mills campus is definitely needed. As it stands, aside from academic programs like MCG and the dental school, there is nothing here to really attract students.
Even from an economic standpoint, it makes a lot more sense to develop this land into student housing. After all, with students you have a guaranteed population (no need to chase after people to rent space) who will stimulate the local economy through their spending (after all, even if they are using daddy's credit card, they have to eat and buy basics). It makes sense to me...

itsanotherday1
45283
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itsanotherday1 07/19/13 - 02:38 pm
3
1
Not!!

"I'm positive younger people and developers would flock into the area's of Laney Walker located the closes to the Medical District."

Just look at Georgia Tech housing for a clue. Then Atlantic Station's struggle with being backed up to the "hood":

"When the units were ready for closings, Atlantic station already had a bad reputation of crime and cruising."

"The hype had disappeared and failed. What was supposed to be a vibrant live, work, play setting, was now a retail area with dark lights of empty homes, nesting above the retail. Retailers did not have the support of true local residents. The “daily shopper” changed from a full time, live in resident, to a destination point for outsiders."

http://tinyurl.com/leokga7

GnipGnop
12443
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GnipGnop 07/19/13 - 02:46 pm
4
2
Isn't it smarter....

to cater to your locality than it is to try to cater to those that come and go? Loyalty has to mean something and the more you alienate the residents of your town the more apt they are to start spending their money elsewhere...it has already started happening with the TSPLOST lots of Georgia residents resent the extra pennies they pay so they spend their disposable income across the border. The lower gas prices also cause more people to drive across the line to NA. As NA and Aiken grow and offer more of the things that Augusta has I think you will see even more people crossing over to make their purchases....

Little Lamb
46859
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Little Lamb 07/19/13 - 04:14 pm
2
1
Too Big, Too Old

thauch12 posted:

Personally, the mills campus seems like a much better use of the land. If the idea is to make GRU a comprehensive destination university (i.e., attract students from all over the state and country), something like the mills campus is definitely needed.

Riverman pointed out the absurdity. Those 19th century textile mills look cool from a distance. But they are huge buildings that will require more money to rehab than it would take to build a brand-new, right-sized, energy-efficient building. What Grooo needs is a campus feel. The only place to do that is up on the hill at the Arsenal Campus. Putting student dorm rooms on the canal does not promote the campus feel. It just creates another bedroom community removed from campus life.

thauch12
6850
Points
thauch12 07/20/13 - 12:37 am
2
1
Today's Word of the Day: Smallmindedness

It's truly amazing how small-minded some people in this town are. Let's face the facts: Aside from having the state's only dental school and public medical school, the academics at GRU are nothing special by ANY stretch of the imagination. In order for it to become a respectable institution (and I mean on the national stage), it needs to have SOMETHING to set it apart and to me, the Mills Campus seems like a step in that direction.

Look at a school like the College of Charleston. The academics are nothing special. The school's drawing factors are the fact that it is in Charleston and the campus buildings are beautiful. We can't change the city of Augusta into Charleston, but we can look into having unique, world-class facilities...and no that doesn't mean building campus apartments off Damascus Road.

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