City Administrator Fred Russell met with Paul Simon, president of Augusta Riverfront LLC, Tuesday morning to review the terms of a lease and management agreement associated with the new TEE Center parking deck and existing Marriott parking.
The numbers associated with both may “improve” to the city’s advantage slightly, Russell said of revised plans he’ll present to the commission next week.
But the operator of both decks, Marriott and TEE Center operator Augusta Riverfront LLC, hasn’t changed, to the chagrin of some commissioners.
Commissioner Bill Lockett said he expected Russell to review a bid offered by Ampco System Parking, the chosen bidder when the city requested proposals from management companies, to see if it was a better deal.
“There needs to be an investigation,” said Lockett, who has previously called for a citywide forensic audit of all operating agreements with outside firms as well as all city departments.
But Russell and Commissioner Jerry Brigham said the commission selected Augusta Riverfront LLC as parking deck operator years ago and that detail cannot change.
Augusta Riverfront has ties to management of Morris Communications, owner of The Augusta Chronicle, as does 933 Broad Investment Co., owner of most of the real estate beneath the new deck, to which the city owns only air rights.
“I believe the commission said to deal with who the operator was previously,” Brigham said.
The city’s finance committee on Nov. 11 sent Russell back for “a new proposal,” and the administrator said he’s vetting numbers for
that from the morning meeting.
Existing proposals on the table are for the city to pay Augusta Riverfront $25,000 annually to operate the new TEE deck, with ground floor spaces reserved during business hours for 933 Broad, and lease outright what remains of Marriott parking to Augusta Riverfront for $50,000 annually.