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Meeting on former Golf Hall site yields optimism but no specifics

Friday, March 23, 2012 7:33 PM
Last updated Saturday, March 24, 2012 12:30 AM
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Optimism abounded but few specifics followed a meeting Friday afternoon between Georgia Health Sciences University, Ripken Baseball, Jacoby Development and a host of city leaders about the future of the former Golf Hall of Fame site and other potential developments in the city.

GHSU President Ricardo Azziz met with city leaders, developers and Ripken Baseball about the abandoned Golf Hall of Fame property in downtown Augusta.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
GHSU President Ricardo Azziz met with city leaders, developers and Ripken Baseball about the abandoned Golf Hall of Fame property in downtown Augusta.

“Nothing is off the table,” said GHSU President Ricardo Azziz, who will lead a merged school with Augusta State University in the future. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents has asked the state to transfer the 16-acre riverfront Golf Hall site to GHSU, and Azziz said he could see many possibilities from the university side. Most successful universities that are in cities with a river have some attractive riverfront property, he said.

“Usually those properties are reserved for innovative, creative things: a performing arts center that dovetails with a school of music, an innovation center that dovetails with the sciences, some higher-level student housing that is very attractive,” he said. The university had previously pitched the site by the Savannah River as a potential spot for a biotech park.

The property has also been eyed for more than four years by Ripken Baseball for a downtown multiuse stadium that could be the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets. Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who has presented his vision for a riverfront stadium along with Ripken, said the discussion Friday involved “multiple uses for our riverfront property.” Officials are just happy to see something happening there, he said.

“That’s the first movement we’ve had on the property, literally in years and years, so that is a huge step in the right direction,” Copenhaver said.

Ripken is still looking for a new stadium for the GreenJackets, either by Augusta’s riverfront or elsewhere, said Jeff Eiseman, Ripken Baseball’s vice president of sales and marketing. For Ripken Baseball to stay long term in the Augusta market, it will need to happen, he said.

“Nothing’s been changed to Lake Olmstead Stadium that would change that from when we spoke about this a year ago or two years ago. We’re encouraged by the progress we’re making,” he said. “We still have a lot of steps to go, obviously. But as long as we can see a path forward in figuring out how to do it, we’re good. Ultimately, something needs to be done.”

Jacoby is still prepared to develop the plan, Senior Vice President Scott Condra said.

“We’re still saying that there’s a potential for a mixed-use development” on the riverfront parcel, he said.

Azziz said the site could handle multiple developments along with university projects.

“It doesn’t preclude a large stadium,” he said. “You just have to study the restrictions, you just have to study how this would dovetail with a university program. At the foremost, we need to make sure it is good for the university as well as becoming good for the city.”

The next step is to have another meeting, perhaps in the next three or four weeks, that might be less formal and involve fewer officials and more people directly involved in planning and development, Azziz said.

Ultimately, the goal is to benefit all, and having people there can be just as important for development, Azziz said.

“What people need to remember is that in order to build up an area you have to have people that either live or play or work in those areas permanently, not transiently,” he said. The newly merged university could “serve as an anchor for the future. That’s how you develop these areas.”

Comments (65) Add comment
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raul
5347
Points
raul 03/23/12 - 07:52 pm
1
1
Dr. Azziz has no desire

Dr. Azziz has no desire whatsoever to use this property as as stadium. The political squeeze is on.

augusta citizen
9718
Points
augusta citizen 03/23/12 - 08:04 pm
2
0
Richmond County taxpayers,

Richmond County taxpayers, looks like you folks will be paying for a new stadium. Several regular posters on here have said that it would happen. Won't go up for a vote for the folks footing the bill, but will be worked out so it doesn't have to be voted on. No point in representation for taxation 'round these parts. We left ARC awhile back, as have so many, too bad, loved the neighborhood we lived in. Dr. Azziz, help the citizens, it would be so cool if Ripken and Jacoby paid their own way and covered the costs for a stadium for their team to play on.

augusta citizen
9718
Points
augusta citizen 03/23/12 - 08:06 pm
1
0
raul, how are you lately?

raul, how are you lately? Hope you're right in your 7:52 post.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 08:17 pm
2
0
I have been saying forever

I have been saying forever that ASU is the key to rejuvenating the city. Combined with GHSU it's even moreso the case.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/23/12 - 08:19 pm
6
0
Hmmm... 1) Biomedical

Hmmm...

1) Biomedical research park where folks will work on the cure for cancer and other diseases, illnesses and conditions, or

2) Glorified baseball park.

Copenhaver Stadium WILL be built, and it will be built with zero public input, plenty of public funding and marginal public benefit.

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 03/23/12 - 08:34 pm
0
4
''While there will not be

''While there will not be definitive planning until the land transfer is completed, the school aims to fund any programs or building there largely through partnerships, collaboration and philanthropy, Azziz said.''

The multi-use property is clearly between Jim Jacoby, GHSU, ASU, and Cal Ripken.. The main player is Dr. Azziz, and not the city of Augusta.. Richmond County citizens funding anything at the problem is slim. The city could share a new performing arts center with GHSU, or the state could provide funding.. If the state gets involved then every county including Richmond County would be funding the GHSU/ASU portion of the development..

Duke, Stanford, and UNC all have great atheltic programs and academics.. Football is the only major sport missing at ASU, and the new university needs football..

IndianaJones
0
Points
IndianaJones 03/23/12 - 08:26 pm
0
0
“We’re still saying that

“We’re still saying that there’s a potential for a mixed-use development” on the riverfront parcel, he said.

"Legends of Coffee" brought to you by Starbucks....

BTW, Starbucks will be selling booze in the near future....so, you can watch baseballs hit people out in the Savannah River in their boats whilst toasted by roasted bean brew and Bailey's Irish Creme....

Just make sure you buy out the Title Pawn gas station on the corner....that's the real eyesore. Kind of nice to see a park of sorts....even if they don't mow the grass. Maybe the local HOA should mow it, bill them, and then let them complain.

Take down some of the half burned houses downtown whilst at it.

Where are all of the SPLOST dollars going? Where is the Improvement District (Downtown Augusta)?
http://www.myaugustadowntown.com/mission.shtml

Where are the busses to take the common folk and inebriated patrons home? Oh, forgot...they cut the bus service.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/23/12 - 08:33 pm
3
1
countyman, what's your point?

countyman, what's your point?

Tax dollars are tax dollars, and dumb is dumb.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 08:40 pm
1
0
Lots of small colleges share

Lots of small colleges share football fields with high schools. Richmond Academy is right there between GHSU and ASU.

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 03/23/12 - 08:52 pm
0
3
Where do they bring using

Where do they bring using your tax dollars in the article? Before GHSU got involved the mayor wanted the city to used an public-private partnership... Jim Jacoby & Cal Ripken have the income along with the alumni of GHSU..

How is building student housing, mutli-use facility, research center, other developments, performing arts center dumb? All of those things together would create an cluster of new housing, retail, restaurants, high income jobs, foot traffic, etc in the CBD... How is building the multi-use facilit((football, baseball, etc stupid? It would draw thousands of people downtown every single game.. How 17 acres on the riverfront with the combination of Jim Jacoby, Cal Ripken, and GHSU/ASU be considered dumb.. The new univeristy along with major investors equals success..

Tourist want to visit the downtown area, and the not suburban areas when coming to the city..

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 08:50 pm
3
0
I doubt this will be anything

I doubt this will be anything for tourists.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/23/12 - 08:53 pm
3
0
Ripken has no interest in

Ripken has no interest in building "student housing, mutli-use facility, research center, other developments, performing arts center." He only wants a baseball stadium

And, the "public" in "public-private" partnership is tax money. When politicians say public-private partnership, that is the smooth way of saying give public money to gamble on a private venture.

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 03/23/12 - 09:02 pm
0
2
The public-private

The public-private parntership between the city and Cal Ripken/Jacoby Development was before GHSU got involved.. The state is giving the land to GHSU/ASU, and not the city of Augusta. Dr. Azziz decides the fate of the 17 acre proprety. GHSU wants to create the student housing, research center, perfomring arts center, etc.. Jim Jacoby wants to create the other developments, and Cal Ripken wants to share an multi-use facility with GHSU/ASU..

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 09:01 pm
2
0
This property still has

This property still has several million dollars of bonded indebtedness — bonds owed by the state of Georgia (i.e., you and me). I say the best solution is for the state to sell the property as is at auction to the highest bidder, private or public entity. The selling price would to pay off (or merely to pay down) the debt. The successful bidder could do what he wanted to with the property.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 09:13 pm
3
0
There's one other

There's one other possibility. The original owners of the land didn't want to sell it. It could be given back to them for whatever they were paid because the original purpose for the land no longer is in play.

raul
5347
Points
raul 03/23/12 - 09:26 pm
0
0
How much land of the 17 acres

How much land of the 17 acres would be utilized by the baseball stadium?

raul
5347
Points
raul 03/23/12 - 09:42 pm
0
0
@Riverman. Can you elaborate?

@Riverman. Can you elaborate? Who were the owners and why didn't they want to sell? If I knew the background, I forgot.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/23/12 - 09:55 pm
3
0
Cal Ripken: Build MY stadium

Cal Ripken: Build MY stadium with YOUR money or I'm going home.

Me: Buh-bye

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 10:13 pm
0
1
Riverman wrote: There's one

Riverman wrote:

There's one other possibility. The original owners of the land didn't want to sell it. It could be given back to them for whatever they were paid because the original purpose for the land no longer is in play.

This is what is known in legal parlance as right of first refusal. Unfortunately for the former owners (and there are several of them), the purchase contracts did not include this right. If my fuzzy memory serves me correctly, one of the first things State Senator Ed Tarver tried to do when he arrived at the Georgia Senate was to obtain first refusal rights for the former owners. The attempt failed.

Raul asked:

Who were the owners and why didn't they want to sell?

There were several owners; and the parcels were, for the most part, quite small — storefronts, warehouses, offices, parking lots, etc. There are only two that I remember: Johannsen's Sporting Goods (we bought bats, gloves and balls there for our boys), and Easter Seals office. Isn't it a strange co-incidence that newly-elected senator Ed Tarver wanted to have the General Assembly award right of first refusal back to the former property owners when he was attorney for Easter Seals? There is an ever so fine line between legitimate self-interest and corruption.

raul
5347
Points
raul 03/23/12 - 10:11 pm
0
0
@LL. Thanks for the info.

@LL. Thanks for the info.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:38 pm
0
0
Yeah, like LL says there were

Yeah, like LL says there were many small parcels of property, 30 if memory serves me. Lots of pressure was put on some of the owners and eminent domain was threatened if they didn't go along. But I don't seriously believe they will be allowed to buy the property back.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:39 pm
0
0
By the way, that was J.B.

By the way, that was J.B. Powell AND Ed Tarver who tried to get the original owners their land back. What a total disaster that place was.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:45 pm
0
0
You know someone did come up

You know someone did come up with an artist conception of a football, baseball stadium combination on the site. It was on the TV news. So that must be what they are trying to sell Azziz on since he has said he wants sports at the new combined school.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 03/23/12 - 10:48 pm
0
0
You must build it to know
Unpublished

You must build it to know what is in it.........

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 10:52 pm
0
1
I'm scraping the cobwebs off

I'm scraping the cobwebs off my brain cells. Wasn't there a NAPA Auto Parts store that sold out to the GGHoF? Several businesses down the tubes. Perhaps the state could subdivide the 16 acres, sell the small parcels at auctions (no government entities allowed to bid), and re-ignite entrepeneuralism - - - - - - - - - - - somehow, I think if I hold my breath for that I will suffocate.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:52 pm
1
0
I don't think there was a

I don't think there was a Napa, but there was a tire center.

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:54 pm
0
0
LL, do you remember any of

LL, do you remember any of the eminent domain conversation. All I can recall is that it was in the air, but never actually used.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 11:25 pm
0
1
Tom Corwin, Susan McCord, and

Tom Corwin, Susan McCord, and Billy Byler wrote:

The property has also been eyed for more than four years by Ripken Baseball for a downtown multiuse stadium that could be the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets.

I am getting sick and tired of this euphemistic hyperbole. Please, please, please, Augusta Chronicle editors — tell your writers to tell it like it is. We are talking about a minor league ballpark here! Don't put lipstick on the pig.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 11:14 pm
1
1
You are correct, RM. The

You are correct, RM. The GGHoF boosters, backed by the power of state government, were strong-arming the property owners down there. Of course, times were good then and the property owners got offers way above assessed value. Most sold quickly, others reluctantly under the inevitability.

There was one holdout — the lady who owned the Lottery store at 13th & Reynolds (formerly a Krispy Kreme store). The state did indeed threaten eminent domain at her, but she stood her ground. That is why you see the silly rectangular carve-out there today. She may have been the most profitable business in the downtown business district in those days. Of course, when South Carolina passed their state lottery, she lost her clientele and sold to another business.

Adam Smith lived a long time ago, but he was mostly right. Ludwig Von Mises cleaned up the weaknesses in Smith's model. Free markets are so much more efficient (and thus, humane) than governments when it comes to enterprise.

Please, Gov. Deal, put this land up for auction.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 03/23/12 - 11:15 pm
1
0
Ricardo "Doctor of Cool"

Ricardo "Doctor of Cool" Azziz: Nothing is off the table.....

Except getting public input.

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