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City committee advances redevelopment plan

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A massive redevelopment project encompassing more than 1,000 acres on Augusta's east side inched along Monday.

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The Laney Walker/Bethlehem Urban Redevelopment Plan received approval from a city committee Monday.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
The Laney Walker/Bethlehem Urban Redevelopment Plan received approval from a city committee Monday.

The Laney Walker/Bethlehem Urban Redevelopment Plan, partially funded through a new $1 hotel-motel bed tax and approved in a December deal that also included the new Augusta trade, exhibit and event center, got approval from a city committee, as did a new agency to govern redevelopment in the area.

City Administrator Fred Russell recommended board members for the new agency, including Information Technology Director Tameka Allen, Planning Director George Patty, Historic Augusta Executive Director Erick Montgomery and former Commissioner Betty Beard.

The agency is necessary as the city prepares to issue $8 million in revenue bonds for the project, bond counsel Kenneth Neighbors said.

Other funding includes $750,000 annually from a $1 per night room tax and a $1 million loan the city authorized in December to jump-start the project.

Commissioner Matt Aitken, whose election was seen as the deciding factor in the commission's approval of both the TEE and Laney-Walker/Bethlehem projects, said redevelopment of the historic area will help all of Augusta.

"The more I'm involved in the area, District 1 and Laney-Walker, it's a huge plus, because somehow they're going to meet in the middle," Aitken said.

The district, which is roughly triangular, is bounded by Walton Way to the north, Gordon Highway, Old Savannah Road and Twiggs Street to the east and R.A. Dent Boulevard to the west.

At a public hearing on the project last week, Chester Wheeler, the director of Augusta Housing and Community Development, said his office would begin closing on land for redevelopment in the coming weeks.

The district's Holly, Pine and Florence streets will be the first target areas for redevelopment, Wheeler said.

In a final draft of the redevelopment plan released Sunday, 71 percent of the district's 2,100 buildings were found to be in deteriorated or dilapidated condition.

Four percent of Augusta's population currently resides there.

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mike71345
75
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mike71345 03/23/10 - 01:53 am
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So what exactly is the plan?

So what exactly is the plan?

msgret92
121
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msgret92 03/23/10 - 05:20 am
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It's a 3 step plan,

It's a 3 step plan, Tax,Spend,Tax

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/23/10 - 06:49 am
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This is simply the biggest

This is simply the biggest give-away in the history of Augusta. It is the other half of the TEE scam.

my.voice
5174
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my.voice 03/23/10 - 06:53 am
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Betty Beard shouldnt be on

Betty Beard shouldnt be on ANY boards, much less this one.

Riverman1
93727
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Riverman1 03/23/10 - 06:59 am
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It is interesting to hear the

It is interesting to hear the same Commissioners who are against giving the Patch to ASU support this mega give-away. They came up with all kinds of faulty logic about the TEE generating income as this throwing of millions at the Laney-Walker area supposedly will.

ASU expansion bringing in people and enhancing Augusta is a no brainer and can be had at the miniscule cost of a very few million. The TEE-Laney Walker deal will be close to a hundred million over the years and assures nothing.

Riverman1
93727
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Riverman1 03/23/10 - 07:06 am
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So it's $8 million now and

So it's $8 million now and then that 1,000 acres will receive $750,000 a year for 30 years? Wouldn't it be cheaper if we gave every one there a new luxurious home or mega building for free?

corgimom
38455
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corgimom 03/23/10 - 07:08 am
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OK, here's what I'm

OK, here's what I'm wondering. If the new TEE center isn't utilized as projected - and many of us feel it won't, considering the state of the national economy, ESPECIALLY since the passage of the health bill- how will it be funded? Or will it be a typical Augusta project- halfakked, a fraction of what it was planned to be, dying for lack of funds, and with a whole lot of money spent up front with little results?

disssman
6
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disssman 03/23/10 - 07:41 am
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The "stakeholders" have

The "stakeholders" have spoken and money for their projects is needed. Don't people realize that it cost money to maintain a uppercrust life style? This will be corporate welfare chasing citizen welfare away from the feed trough, and I'll let you guess which one the citizenry screams loudest about.

disssman
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disssman 03/23/10 - 07:48 am
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It is just a thought but Fred

It is just a thought but Fred may want to spell out the duties, Appointments, Budget, composition, term of office, funding etc etc etc. for this group in a little old document as part of the city code. Kinda getting the cart before the horse ain't we? First we appoint a committee and then we decide what we need them for? Yeah I can see this as another great planning step for the future of rivercity. But then who are we to hold up a project for paperwork, especially when we have fifty years to do it.

mike71345
75
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mike71345 03/23/10 - 08:20 am
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'In a final draft of the

'In a final draft of the redevelopment plan released Sunday, 71 percent of the district's 2,100 buildings were found to be in deteriorated or dilapidated condition.'
Are there really 2,100 public buildings there? Because I can't think of any way that 1,491 privately-owned dilapidated buildings is truly relevant. Or is the city going to repair only the area's infrastructure, which the city should have been maintaining for years (but hasn't). Those were the very same years in which Betty Beard was commissioner, and the same years in which Erick Montgomery and George Patty watched the Bethlehem neighborhood destroyed by the "historic design review guidelines" that the Planning and Zoning Dept and Historic Augusta, Inc oversaw. So, at least three of the people proposed for this board bear some responsibility for the present state of the Laney Walker/Bethlehem neighborhood. Are they really getting another chance now with the Laney Walker/B.U.R.P.?

Just tired
0
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Just tired 03/23/10 - 08:33 am
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Hey, I'm going to be doing

Hey, I'm going to be doing some work to my house this spring. Is there any way I can get the government to pick up the expenses for the repairs that are my responsibility in the first place?

mike71345
75
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mike71345 03/23/10 - 08:56 am
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Hear, hear, Just Tired. How

Hear, hear, Just Tired. How much of this multi-million dollar project will go toward funding code enforcement? My guess is $0. By the way, does anyone happen to know what percentage of the neighborhood is landlord-owned?

countyman
21631
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countyman 03/23/10 - 10:08 am
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This is a GREAT day in

This is a GREAT day in Augusta! The new sidewalks, streelights, homes, townhomes, and neighborhoods in Laney Walker. They all look great and help raise the quality of life. People are already starting to move into the area. Bringing more middle class and upper middle class people into the inner city. It's 2010 and ALOT of people want to live, work, and play in one area.

Laney Walker runs through the Medical District. Young adults and gay people have no problem starting the gentrification. I drive through Laney Walker atleast once a week. The area looks totally diffrent.

gnumbgnuts
0
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gnumbgnuts 03/23/10 - 10:38 am
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This is like pouring sugar on

This is like pouring sugar on dog droppings.

Riverman1
93727
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Riverman1 03/23/10 - 10:57 am
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Countyman said, "Young adults

Countyman said, "Young adults and gay people have no problem starting the gentrification. I drive through Laney Walker atleast once a week. The area looks totally diffrent."

Now that was funny.

fdn315
2
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fdn315 03/23/10 - 11:44 am
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by buying these cheap vacant

by buying these cheap vacant run down homes and making them into 150 - 250k homes Augusta stays in the national spotlight for the only city whos property value increased during the recession. The value of our home on 12th st. more then doubled in the last 5 years and the owner of the section 8 property next door changed his offer for the home from $20k - $40 for a piece of junk. It would be wise to purchase and develop property in the area as a sound investment in the future of the city... and dont section 8 it!

countyman
21631
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countyman 03/23/10 - 03:01 pm
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This is terrific news for

This is terrific news for Augusta and the CSRA. The extra tax base will do alot for the city. Who would have thought 5 years ago. The Laney Walker area would be this nice. The area would offer townhomes for sale at 300k who come with their own private elevators. The Enclave on James Brown Boulevard starts at $140k.

Augusta is starting to become progressive. About time we start act like the 2nd largest metro in GA. Other cities started inner city revitilization years ago.

Harlem, NY now is mostly a middle class area.

Brooklyn, NY has posh high and mid rises downtown right next to housing projects.

jb1234
0
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jb1234 03/23/10 - 03:50 pm
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Like our lovely, lovely prez

Like our lovely, lovely prez has said before, you can put lipstick on a pig, but, well, you know the rest...

But, you know, I could be wrong, this could be the start of something great, it all just seems like a LOT of money given to just one area, which isn't really my liking.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 03/23/10 - 10:51 pm
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Yeah.. gay people moving into

Yeah.. gay people moving into the Laney-Walker Bethlehem Ghetto areas... yeah I can really see that.

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