Talks early, but Georgia Health Sciences University sees former Golf and Gardens for research

Ricardo Azziz

A Georgia Health Sciences University administrator met “very briefly” Friday with those discussing a potential development that could include a stadium on the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame property, GHSU President Ricardo Azziz said Monday.

But so far, the only proposal the school has made is one last year to develop it as a potential site for a research park, part of an eight-year plan to improve the university, he said.

A cold waylaid Azziz on Friday and over the weekend, so he was still learning some of the details Monday.

Phil Howard, the vice president for facilities service at GHSU, “met very briefly” with Jacoby Development and members of the city about potential plans for that site, Azziz said.

It was the second meeting the university has had with the developers, and Azziz said his understanding was that they were trying to assess the university’s needs.

“I think in many ways, they may be looking for tenants,” he said.

While he was not in that meeting, City Administrator Fred Russell said the discussion he heard Friday centered around potentially accommodating needs for student housing, research and, possibly, sports like baseball or soccer at a multiuse facility.

“I don’t think there’s anything off the table,” he said, because everything is just at the proposal stage. With the merging of Augusta State University and GHSU, however, it is a chance to take a fresh look at where plans are going, he said.

“I think we’ve got another opportunity to look at,” Russell said.

The only use GHSU has pitched for the site, however, is for a biotech research park.

Azziz said the idea was discussed with Chris Cummiskey, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and is part of an eight-year advancement plan that has been shared with University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby and Gov. Nathan Deal. That plan is to become a top 50 research university by 2020, and more details will emerge in the next couple of months as the plans come together, Azziz said.

As far as the former Golf Hall site, “this is all very exploratory,” he said. “From my point of view, these are all interesting discussions. All of this should be entertained. But the truth is, we don’t know very much about it.

“And at the end of the day, we will be measuring this according to what we think the economic impact is on the city and on the growth potential of our university.”

Staff Writer Susan McCord contributed to this article.

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