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Parking deck management deal could occur Monday

Agreement on deck could come Monday

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A management deal for Augusta’s new convention center parking deck might come as soon as Monday, with most parties appearing to reach consensus on the details.

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A management deal for Augusta's new convention center parking deck might come as soon as Monday.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
A management deal for Augusta's new convention center parking deck might come as soon as Monday.

Revised documents presented to the Augusta Commission in a special meeting Tuesday included a 70-30 split of deck profits between the city and Augusta Riverfront LLC, the firm that will manage the deck and the adjoining convention center.

Paul Simon, the president of Augusta Riverfront, said he approved the changes and hoped they would win passage at a meeting he expects Mayor Deke Copenhaver to call Monday.

Other changes include the addition of a second-floor crosswalk connecting the deck to the convention center at Ninth Street, something that Simon said would be helpful for visitors crossing busy Reynolds Street.

The five-year contract has Augusta paying Augusta Riverfront $25,000 annually plus expenses to manage the parking deck. Previous drafts have raised questions among commissioners and members of a local watchdog group who fear that the agreements benefit the firm more than the city. Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles proposed the 70-30 split and crosswalk Monday as a compromise.

Augusta Riverfront has ties to the management of Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

The deck developments preceded an encounter in the Lee Beard Commission Chamber between the watchdog group and Simon after the commissioners left the room to meet privately with attorneys.

Before an audience gathered for the regular meeting, which included issues of changing the name of Augusta’s merged university and taxi driver concerns, Lincolnton, Ga., activist Al Gray, former Downtown Development Authority member Brad Owens and former Commissioner Andy Cheek engaged in an open discussion about whether the deal’s details benefit Augusta, with Simon doing most of the talking.

The discussion wasn’t captured on the city’s live video stream because the commission’s regular 5 p.m. meeting hadn’t been called to order.

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rebellious
20115
Points
rebellious 08/23/12 - 01:05 pm
3
1
The Natives are restless

Time to get out the pitchforks? Commissioners and Mayor with armed escorts will be next. Let em eat cake.....

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 08/23/12 - 01:30 pm
3
1
Yep. that crosswalk is sorely

Yep. that crosswalk is sorely needed for Reynolds street because we all know its the most happening street in Augusta (for select few). People get almost ran over there all the time (not). Think about all the traffic backed up there... like when its Westoubou or a train is crossing.

countyman
18848
Points
countyman 08/23/12 - 02:02 pm
1
6
The Riverwalk, TEE Center,

The Riverwalk, TEE Center, renovated Fort Discovery(Discovery Plaza), and GGHF site are located on Reynolds street..

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 08/23/12 - 02:11 pm
3
1
and people are just busting

and people are just busting in to get into that Golf and Gardens Hall of Fame site!

No, really. The front wooden gate has been kicked in and homeless have made several of their own entrances along the back fence.

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 02:27 pm
4
1
GGHF

Gee, I wonder how much controversy will be generated when Dr. Gruzziz RENAMES the Gardens and Golf Hall of Fame site!

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 02:32 pm
2
1
TSPLOST Money?

From the story:

Other changes include the addition of a second-floor crosswalk connecting the deck to the convention center at Ninth Street, something Simon said would be very helpful for visitors crossing busy Reynolds Street.

How are we taxpayers going to pay for this?

And think about this: the TEE Center will be empty 98% of the time. They should shut the doors, turn out the lights, and turn off the HVAC when there is no activity going on there. But now with this crosswalk connecting the Marriott parking deck to the convention center just to accommodate Marriott guests with a back entrance, we taxpayers will likely end up paying that pricey HVAC bill 24/7.

countyman
18848
Points
countyman 08/23/12 - 02:36 pm
1
5
The state is giving the GGHF

The state is giving the GGHF site to the new University....

Dorms, research buildings, performing arts center, etc on the Riverwalk... Additional things if both Jim Jacoby(mix-used development), and Cal Ripken(entertainment complex) are involved..

Little Lamb... You might want to look at the future events if you think the building will sit empty 98% of the time... One event may last over 3-4 days, and sometimes up to one week..

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 02:33 pm
2
0
Name that thing

What name would you choose for the property, Countyman?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/23/12 - 02:46 pm
3
0
What a joke

Can anyone name a single reason to pay a "management" company to "manage" a parking deck?

I challenge any commissioner who reads these comments to give just one reason (good, bad or otherwise) for paying someone to do this?

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 03:31 pm
2
0
Free

That's a good point, Insider. The city would save money if they just made it a free parking deck. We would not have to pay the management fee to Paul Simon's company.

dichotomy
29819
Points
dichotomy 08/23/12 - 03:41 pm
4
0
I don't care what the

I don't care what the contract says, we got a raw deal. We built Paul & associates a parking deck, upgraded their HVAC system after they whined, and are now throwing in a connected overhead crosswalk at who knows what the price. And for that we get a small split of the "profits" which will of course be manipulated to say that there are no profits.

Somebody check our commissioners when they come out of the meeting to see if they all have "Kick Me" signs hung on their butt.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/23/12 - 04:18 pm
3
0
Well put

@ LL... A free parking actually makes a whole lot more sense.

If the purpose of the Marriott Convention Center (also known as the MCC, not to be confused with Morris Communications Company) is to attract people to the area, then why charge anything to park at the MCC parking deck?

If we have to pay people to collect money so that we can get a portion of that money, it's a no-brainer to have a free parking deck so that we save money.

Of course, no one has ever accused our commissioners of being mental giants.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/23/12 - 04:18 pm
3
0
It's quite revealing when not

It's quite revealing when not even countyman can cite a good reason to pay someone to manage the MCC parking deck.

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 04:25 pm
1
0
Competitive Bid

I still say they should put the new agreement written up by Joe Bowles out for competitive bids to see if anyone will undercut Riverfront, LLC.

dichotomy
29819
Points
dichotomy 08/23/12 - 04:57 pm
2
0
I think the commission should

I think the commission should be sued if they don't put this contract out for bids. It's a contract for service isn't it? Can the commission just sole source a contract without bids? A really bad, one sided contract at that. Oh yeh, and in the process they need to take back the prime, ground level parking places and make sure they have the deed to the land it's built on.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 08/23/12 - 05:02 pm
0
0
My bid

I can "manage" the MCC parking deck for one half of this current contract proposal.

Brad Owens
4097
Points
Brad Owens 08/23/12 - 06:24 pm
3
1
It was interesting...

My sincere thanks goes out to the Commissioners that have paid attention and Mr. Simon for being a good sport and engaging us the way he did.

It was a very interesting exchange between all of us and Mr. Simon. Our group is proud to have been able to cause some tax payer protections to be included in this agreement so far, but it is still far from perfect or a fair deal.

I support an open free enterprise market system, I am a capitalist, so I want them to make money, but I also demand that we tax payers get a fair deal on these public-private JV partnerships. Most of the time the risk and cash investment is mostly public and the profits and benefits are mostly private.

I wish more folks would join in the debate.

Riverman1
78435
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 06:43 pm
4
1
The TEE has 12 events

The TEE has 12 events scheduled over the next 3 years. I'm waiting for the tattoo show. LL, you know they will keep the power on all the time. They're not paying for it.

Conservative Man
5268
Points
Conservative Man 08/23/12 - 06:44 pm
3
0
Good commentary!!

Good points made by all here. Brad is correct when he says it is still far from perfect or a fair deal.
My problem with this whole shebang is that it seems as if the city and therefore the taxpayer was LAST on the list of parties being protected.
Regardless of what happen with THIS deal, hopefully the Paul Simons' and Jim Plunketts' will be on notice that the citizens are watching.......

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 08/23/12 - 06:55 pm
0
0
We deserve everything we get.
Unpublished

We deserve everything we get. Does anyone remember building a multi-million dollar hanger at Bush Field and leasing it out for pennies for something like 20 years? Now I wonder who got the taxpayers to fund that little project? And here he is again.

Riverman1
78435
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 06:55 pm
3
1
What's the rental fee for

What's the rental fee for using the TEE? That should be public record. What are the scheduled events going to pay? Is there any way the Marriott could allow events to use the building for free if their people are all staying at the Marriott?

Lori Davis
737
Points
Lori Davis 08/23/12 - 07:23 pm
1
0
Riverman, A lot of times it

Riverman, A lot of times it goes the other way. Rooms are almost free for the client when the TEE Center is rented. Either way, it will work out to benefit the Marriott first. Also, I wonder how many business owners on Broad St realize that Mr. Simon sees the area on Reynolds Street as the,"New City Center." He has said this on more than one occasion. Mr Simon also said that he knows for a fact the all other hotels in the city are very happy to have this TEE Center. I challenged him by asking him if he knew there would be zero transportation provided form other hotels to the Convention Site. Simply too expensive. He said he didn't know anything about this. I was told this on the TEE Center tour I went on....Let's see....those who fly in and don't stay at the Marriott are subjected to the lame cab service or the less than stellar city bus service. Also, so far, the city can only use the TEE Center facilities once per quarter, and if not used, cannot be carried over to the next quarter. Wonder if some of these things will be worked out?

countyman
18848
Points
countyman 08/23/12 - 07:45 pm
0
2
How is twelve worse than

How is twelve worse than zero? I haven't seen anything planned for the exhibition hall at the Gateway in Grovetown.. The same people commented before how the TEE would attract not one single event, and were up to twelve now. The construction of the TEE Center equals 11 events coming in the year 2013..

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/23/12 - 08:14 pm
3
0
Regarding the TEE Center,

Riverman posted:

LL, you know they [i.e., Riverfront, LLC – LL] will keep the power on all the time. They're not paying for it.

Right you are. But I wish soon-to-be-ex-commissioner Jerry Brigham or soon-to-be-ex-commissioner Joe Bowles would sneak in sometimes and turn off the lights and the HVAC in the TEE Center when there is no convention going on there just to save us taxpayers some money.

Riverman1
78435
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 08:41 pm
3
1
Lori, I think you and I know

Lori, I think you and I know ONE other hotel owner who isn't happy about the TEE. She explained in detail why the convention center should be built at the JB Arena at a tiny fraction of the cost. Do you think she can book conventions at her hotel and bus them to the TEE for meetings and so on? Provide the meals? No need to answer any of these "questions."

Riverman1
78435
Points
Riverman1 08/23/12 - 08:47 pm
3
1
Imagine if Bonnie Rueben Had Won the Election

Can you imagine if Bonnie Rueben had won the election for mayor? What do you think she would have done when Azziz showed his ignorance? These crazy contracts with the Marriott? She is the antithesis to the weak-kneed Deke.

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/24/12 - 08:25 am
2
0
70-30

Okay, we taxpayers are supposed to be gleeful about the 70 - 30 percent split of the "profits" from parking deck receipts. What I want to know is what will be the split of the losses? There is no way that the deck will realize any actual profits when you consider amortization of the construction costs, actual operation and maintenance costs, and the pernicious arrangement whereby Riverfront LLC calls all the shots while the taxpayers pick up the bills.

Little Lamb
43560
Points
Little Lamb 08/24/12 - 08:31 am
2
0
Reynolds Street

Speaking of Reynolds Street, why cannot the city find a buyer for the old depot property next door to St. Paul's? We taxpayers spent millions of dollars to scrape off the topsoil and replace it with "clean" dirt from some well-connected person's borrow pit just so the property would have a clean bill of environmental heath. What's so wrong with the property that Fred can't sell it?

corgimom
26304
Points
corgimom 08/24/12 - 08:42 am
1
0
The Charlotte Observer just

The Charlotte Observer just ran a indepth story about how their Convention Center is mismanaged and losing money by the boatload.

One thing the articles said, which I didn't know, is that the only time they make money is when they have trade shows, where business people are on expense accounts. When they have family reunions, fraternal organizations, small conferences (like Mary Kay), etc. , people are looking for value and they don't want to pay high rent, so in order to get their business, all of the Convention Centers discounts heavily and they all lose money.

corgimom
26304
Points
corgimom 08/24/12 - 08:50 am
1
0
And those economic impact

And those economic impact multipliers? They are way off. Those multipliers assume that every member attending will have a single room and will attend every single day of the scheduled event. And there is no allowance made for couples sharing a room. And for the SMERFs- social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal groups- they must pay their own way, out of their own pocket, and doubling up of rooms are common, along with partial stays and economizing of expenses.

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