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City department plans new Laney-Walker office building at former nightclub site

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The site of a former Laney-Walker nightclub could become new office space for the city department leading the massive Laney-Walker neighborhood revitalization project.

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The city's Housing and Community Development Department wants to build a new office building at the site of the former Mr. J's Famous Door Supper Club on Laney-Walker Boulevard.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
The city's Housing and Community Development Department wants to build a new office building at the site of the former Mr. J's Famous Door Supper Club on Laney-Walker Boulevard.

The city’s Housing and Community Development Department is planning to move from a rented space in a building owned by the Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corp. into a new building one block down Laney-Walker Boulevard, said Chester Wheeler, the director of HCD.

Mr. J’s Famous Door Supper Club was sold by Richard L. Johnson to the Augusta Land Bank Authority for $332,840. The nightclub’s adjacent parking lot and several vacant parcels nearby were also sold in related transactions.

The nightclub property was appraised in 2011 for $300,000 by Herbert May of May Appraisal Co. According to 2012 city property records, the nightclub building and .15 acre were valued at $83,243.

Donna Murray, a deputy chief appraiser for the city, said the difference between the market value and the appraisal amount could reflect a market value that hasn’t been adjusted in several years because of staffing shortages.

The market value for the Famous Door land and building was last measured in 2005, she said. That number does not include the value of the business, personal property and furniture, which also could be reflected in the selling price.

“That was a thriving business at the time it sold,” Murray said.

Wheeler said the purchase price included the value of the operating nightclub business. The appraisal document obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, however, said “the appraisal considers no value for the business … an accountant will have to determine the value of all personal property and the value of the business.”

Bill Armstrong, the treasurer for the National Association of Realtors, said separate appraisals are normally conducted for the business and the property value. He added that assessments are often significantly lower than the market value because cities often lag behind on assessments or property owners contest them in order to pay lower taxes.

“If it’s an up and coming development area, there could be a significant difference between values,” Armstrong said.

Municipalities also tend to pay more for property than the private sector, he said.

Located at 850 Laney-Walker Blvd., the Famous Door Supper Club had a history of criminal activity. It was the scene of a November 2008 fight in which a man was stabbed to death with a broken bottle. An altercation between two men in January 2002 sent one to the hospital with a broken jaw and a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Wheeler said the purchase and pending demolition are part of revitalization efforts in the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods. Demolishing the Famous Door Supper Club gets rid of problems sometimes associated with a nightclub, such as loitering on street corners late at night, he said.

“We didn’t know at the time that we bought it exactly what we were going to do. But we knew we had to get rid of the nightclub,” he said. “We also felt that to build an office building on the site of the Famous Door is going to stabilize the whole environment.”

The building’s demolition, Wheeler said, has been delayed because of vents from an old gas station on an adjacent property. He said no other agencies or departments would occupy the new building. Housing and Community Development would sign a lease, pay rent for the lease’s term and purchase the building at the lease’s completion.

Wheeler said the department could not move into the Augusta Municipal Building, slated for renovation, because it needs to be in the neighborhood where the department works. Renovation of the Penny Savings Bank, across the street from the Famous Door and also purchased by the Land Bank for redevelopment, would be too expensive, he said.

City Administrator Fred Russell said building a new office for HCD is “killing several birds with one stone.” It rids the area of a nuisance property and furthers Laney-Walker redevelopment, he said.

“It’s a small part of a very complex puzzle,” Russell said.

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avidreader
3215
Points
avidreader 09/10/12 - 05:35 am
4
0
A Complex Puzzle!

“It’s a small part of a very complex puzzle,” Russell said.

In other words, Mr. Russell considers the general public too stupid to understand why he is spending money on a property of this sort when there is plenty of office space in the Marble Palace. I will bet that this property could not raise half the current price in one year, if sold to a commercial developer. Our county government is constantly raging about budget woes, yet they continue to spend, spend, spend.

Riverman1
83800
Points
Riverman1 09/10/12 - 07:21 am
2
0
A misguided plan

It's a plan to continue taking from the suburban county and giving to the urban city. A misguided plan.

Let's imagine what Laney Walker will be like if this continues for the next 50 years as has been approved with the TEE approval bribe. It will be large government offices in THAT area. It will probably be like American embassies in somewhat hostile foreign countries look with guards, sandbags around the building and machine gun positions set-up in case of attacks by native population.

Little Lamb
45904
Points
Little Lamb 09/10/12 - 07:48 am
2
0
Corruption

From the story:

Municipalities also tend to pay more for property than the private sector, Bill Armstrong, the treasurer for the National Association of Realtors said.

Sad, but true. When it's not your money, you can be generous.

seenitB4
87105
Points
seenitB4 09/10/12 - 07:52 am
2
0
The big picture heh

Evidently the big picture doesn't include South Augusta.....amazing stuff going on here......
How many roads need paving----how many crime victims in other parts of town....
Where oh where will they re-locate the people .......do we have enough lipstick for this...

Riverman1
83800
Points
Riverman1 09/10/12 - 08:51 am
2
0
Wait a Minute

"Donna Murray, a deputy chief appraiser for the city, said the difference between the market value and the appraisal amount could reflect a market value that hasn’t been adjusted in several years because of staffing shortages.

The market value for the Famous Door land and building was last measured in 2005, she said. That number does not include the value of the business, personal property and furniture, which also could be reflected in the selling price.

“That was a thriving business at the time it sold,” Murray said.

So we are admitting we really don't know about the value of the building due to incompetence? Something is fishy here. The truth is that place is a closed-up, rundown dump and could have been condemned. "Furniture, value of the business?" Y'all are seriously out to a long lunch with dessert and drinks.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 09/10/12 - 10:33 am
3
0
AUGUSTA TAXPAYERS !!! THIS IS

AUGUSTA TAXPAYERS !!! THIS IS "YOUR" FAULT...............HOW LONG WILL YOU ALLOW INCOMPETENT CITY EMPLOYEES AND POLITICIANS TO ABUSE YOU; WHEN CONFRONTED, THEY "ALWAYS" HAVE A VAGUE EXCUSE AS TO WHY THEY COULD NOT DO THEIR JOB..............AT THIS POINT, AUGUSTA'S TAXPAYERS ARE A BECOMING A BIGGER LAUGHING STOCK THAN IT'S POLITICIANS................

itsanotherday1
43012
Points
itsanotherday1 09/10/12 - 11:09 am
1
0
As I said on another thread

"Follow the MONEY". Somebody got their pocket greased on this one.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/10/12 - 11:43 am
1
0
If we have Fred Russell calling the shots,

then why do we have a Mayor and a County Commission at all?

I propose every Government meeting needs to open with the Song the Tax Man by the Beatles.The Lyrics seem to fit the situation incresingly.

"Should five percent appear too small, Be thankful I dont take it all cause, because Im the taxman, Yeah, Im the taxman" Dont ask me what I want it for, (ah, ah, mr. major) If you dont want to pay some more (ah, ah, mr. [..]) cause Im the taxman Yeah, Im the taxman

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/10/12 - 11:46 am
0
0
When is South Richmond County going to wake up?

The "almost equal" but different tax rates version of Consolidation, is hurting South Richmond Co. and only feeding downtown's addiction for spending.

Little Lamb
45904
Points
Little Lamb 09/10/12 - 03:14 pm
0
0
What ties does Johnson have?

I wish the Chronicle would investigage Richard L. Johnson and tell us what are his connections. He has to have some ties to some city high-ups for them to pay ten times what this property is worth.

Also, from the story:

The nightclub’s adjacent parking lot and several vacant parcels nearby were also sold in related transactions.

I wish the Chronicle would tell us about these transactions and how much we are on the hook for them. Our city government is covered up in surplus property, yet we are buying everything in sight in the blighted areas at Summerville rates.

rebellious
20777
Points
rebellious 09/10/12 - 03:47 pm
2
0
The numbers

Paid Price = $332,840
Appraised = $ 83,243

Then the difference must be for the
Famous Door = $249,597

That must really be a "famous" door. And the fact that it was Mr.J's door must be what makes it famous. Like buying James Brown's cape, or Elvis's sunglasses. Once something becomes famous, well the price goes up.

Folks........Common sense seems to be more and more uncommon. I am afraid Augusta has passed the point of no return. The Fat Lady may be clearing her throat.

dichotomy
32899
Points
dichotomy 09/10/12 - 04:36 pm
0
0
OUR DOWNTOWN CLOWNS HAVE

OUR DOWNTOWN CLOWNS HAVE ABSOLUTELY LOST THEIR MINDS. ONE CROOKED DEAL AFTER THE OTHER INVOLVING BLANTANT MISMANAGEMENT OF OUR MONEY.

This place is not worth the land it is sitting on. So the Housing and Community Development folks are going to use YOUR money to pay "somebody" ten times what it is worth so they can tear it down and build them a new office building. WHAAATTT??????

And this coming one day after two articles about the "City of Augusta" has CITY OWNED...AND.....LEASED OFFICE SPACE STANDING EMPTY EVERYWHERE.

They are out of control.....they are crazy.......they are absolute arrogant mental cases. They dog catcher should be chasing these people around with nets and snares because they are rabid and absolutely insane. We need to get the CDC in here because the DOWNTOWN CLOWN VIRUS has infected the entire "city" government. They are all walking ATMs spitting out YOUR money like most of us pass gas. Go ahead, pull their finger and $300,000 might fall out of their behind. OH, NOT YOU South Augusta. All they have for you is a STORMWATER TAX so they can refill their ATMs.

They are paying TEN TIMES what their property is worth and BUILDING OFFICE SPACE THEY DON'T NEED and they want to charge rural people in SOUTH RICHMOND COUNTY a STORMWATER TAX for the DITCHES THEY DON'T EVEN MAINTAIN. We don't have any stormwater drainage pipes out here. We don't have any stormwater drainage "drains" out here. We don't have a stormwater drainage problem out here. We have ditches. The ditch was here 25 years ago when I moved here. You have not done anything to maintain it in the 25 years I have been here. HOW THE heck CAN YOU TAX ME FOR STORMWATER RUNOFF WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE A STORMWATER DRAINAGE SYSTEM OUT HERE AND HAVE NO PLANS TO PUT ANY PIPES OR DRAINS OUT HERE.

SOUTH RICHMOND COUNTY......YOU ARE GOING TO BE PAYING STORMWATER TAXES FOR A STORMWATER DRAINAGE SYSTEM THAT DON'T EXIST AND NEVER WILL EXIST IN YOUR AREA. WE DON'T PAY SEWERAGE BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE SEWER PIPES. WHY SHOULD WE PAY STORMWATER TAX WHEN WE DON'T HAVE STORMWATER PIPES AND DRAINS AND WE HAVE LITTLE, IF ANY, RUNOFF.

But the "city" folks appreciate your contribution....REALLY. Are you ready to rumble yet South Richmond County???

Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 09/10/12 - 04:49 pm
3
0
As usual...

...dichotomy nails it......300 grand that we don't have , for property we don't need, for offices for someone who should be fired, to prop up ANIC which should be disbanded....I'm at a loss........

dichotomy
32899
Points
dichotomy 09/10/12 - 05:06 pm
2
0
Conservative Man

"300 grand that we don't have , for property we don't need, for offices for someone who should be fired, to prop up ANIC which should be disbanded"

Conservative Man.....I truly admire the way you can say so much in so few words.

The eloquence of your posts make me look like a raving lunatic......but that's okay. It's probably closer to the truth than not.

Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 09/10/12 - 06:05 pm
0
0
dichotomy...thanks...

....coming from you that is high praise indeed.....I have always been a fan of Abraham Lincoln, who was a proponent of the axiom that the fewer words used, the better the point is made.
But please, PLEASE never stop your so-called "rantings".. You are masterful at giving the "nuts and bolts" of an issue which is every bit as important as the "overview" and simplistic explanations I tend to post.....
....bottom line (for me as usual)...let's hold 'em accountable.....

rebellious
20777
Points
rebellious 09/11/12 - 12:52 am
2
0
Di and ConMan

Get a room!

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 09/11/12 - 05:58 am
1
0
Grand Jury Investigation

So, how do we get a grand jury investigation, an investigation of any kind to what is going on?

I was looking up online and I don't see how it actually gets started, who starts it, or can start one.

This is crazy. I dread reading the paper every morning for what I will read next.

Don't tell me this is part of a complex plan. Yeah, it is complex all right.
All this is complex. Someone needs to get in there and do an audit of the books and see what the hell is going on down there and has been going on that we don't know about. I am getting tired of reading every day about something that sounds crazier every day. I might be old but I am not that old I can't comprehend things..yet.

I am so angry right now I feel like I could eat nails. I will get in touch with Guilifoyle (sic) I can't be bothered right now to look up his name, sorry too ticked. See what he has to say.

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