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Fire chief: Regency Mall violates codes

Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 7:03 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 4:09 PM
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Large, vacant and wholly despised by its south Augusta neighbors, Regency Mall has more problems than several recent fires set there by vagrants.

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Cement blocks obstruct the roadways into the Regency Mall location on Monday, September 24, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Cement blocks obstruct the roadways into the Regency Mall location on Monday, September 24, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.

The building’s lack of working fire alarms and sprinklers puts it in violation of state fire codes, Fire Chief Chris James told the Augusta Commission at a committee meeting Monday.

“If that building was to catch on fire, we need to know as soon as possible,” said James, who appeared at the request of Commissioner Bill Lockett.

The parking lot also has access issues on its back side, James said, with weight limits uncertain for the safe passage of heavy fire trucks, or – as in the case of the recent presence of the Cole Bros. Circus in the Regency lot – truckloads of animals.

“They’re bringing in tons and tons of weight in terms of the big elephants, lions and tigers and bears,” Commissioner Alvin Mason said.

Mason asked for an update the next time an event makes an impromptu move to Regency. City Planning and Development Director George Patty said the circus’ planned venue on Wrightsboro Road had fallen through at the last minute, prompting the move.

The old mall is subject to the fire code in effect when it opened – in 1978 – so long as its use does not change, James said. Even in 1978, working sprinklers and alarms were required, he said.

The violations could be cause for the commission to begin an action ordering demolition of the mall, Patty said. The administrative services committee received the report as information but took no further action.

A consequence of firefighters’ late arrival at a Regency fire could be a catastrophic event that would endanger anyone inside and likely require assistance from surrounding agencies, James said after the meeting.

“It’s a very large building and very easy for a firefighter to get lost in a building of that size,” James said. “It would be a dangerous fire that could risk the lives of firefighters or anyone who entered that building, legally or not.”

Commissioner Jerry Brigham questioned whether the report Monday could require more of mall owner Cardinal Management than of other absentee owners of vacant buildings.

“I don’t think it’s right to single any given property owner out to have a discussion about their property,” Brigham said.

James said the same requirements would be made of any large vacant structures.

“Anytime that we know there is a code violation, it is our responsibility to be sure the code is being followed,” he said.

Comments (26) Add comment
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OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/24/12 - 07:32 pm
4
1
AC Commenters suggested it 1st months ago.

HEY DOWNTOWN... Read some comments once in awhile, many could save the taxpayers $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

WHY?
I seem to remember a AC commenter here, a few months ago making the suggestion to do a 100% annual Fire Inspection and fine the owners for every thing found wrong.

The commenter was willing to bet (if memory serves correctly) the price of repairs would make it cheaper for the owner to sell the property at real worth instead of any inflated purchase price to the taxpayers, than to make repairs to be in code compliance.

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 09/24/12 - 07:49 pm
0
7
I think Jerry Brigham needs

I think Jerry Brigham needs to get into the car, and drive past the Regency Mall.. The vacant property should have been singled out years ago.. The same goes for the bus system(expanded routes, running until 1am -2am, electric buses), landscaping(trees, bicycle lanes, sidewalks, etc on the main roads), performing arts center, arena over 15k seats, creating mixed use areas in the suburbs(office, retail, housing), large retailer on Broad, target shopping center in South Augusta, extension of Riverwalk into East Augusta, substations in the urban core, coffee shops/restaurants/retail in walking distance around Laney Walker/Summerville/Midtown/Olde Town/Medical District/Harrisburg, large urban park downtown(waterfalls, bridges, etc), and the lack of things to do(increased events at the Riverwalk/Common/8th street plaza, additional businesses opened after 11 pm, no zoo/aquarium/amusement park/water park/large arcade)...

The regional sports complex or zoo are the two best ideas for the Regency Mall property.. The majority of people would rather look at the vacant lot compared to this ugly building for now..

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 09/24/12 - 08:14 pm
3
0
Circus...
Unpublished

I'm thinking maybe government offices there are a good idea after all..

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 09/24/12 - 11:21 pm
3
0
Regency Mall violates
Unpublished

Regency Mall violates Augusta. Period.

rebellious
21389
Points
rebellious 09/24/12 - 11:26 pm
6
0
Hmmmmm

If Regency Mall catches fire......

Who brings the marshmallows?

What people are supposed to be inside there?

They had a circus in the parking lot? I gotta get out more!

Just because we paid 1.2 million in a lawsuit doesn't mean we want to do it again.

When is that lake going in? We could pump water from it to put out the smoldering ashes.

Send in Fire Marshall Bill from SaturdayNight Live to inspect.

CobaltGeorge
165882
Points
CobaltGeorge 09/25/12 - 06:01 am
1
0
What!

Nobody is going to say anything as to the reason why the Regency Mall is what it is?

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 09/25/12 - 06:23 am
3
0
That place must have

That place must have tremendous value. If the city paid hundreds of thousands for Mr. J's Famous Door Club that had been closed for years they should value this building because it once used to be a thriving mall. The more I think about it and knowing how the city operates that may be why the purchase of the property has been delayed so long. Everyone has to get his-her hand in the till.

By the way, Jerry Brigham needs to pick his spots a little better. No logical thinking person is in favor of this empty eyesore remaining for another couple of decades as has been the case.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 09/25/12 - 06:55 am
2
1
Gosh, who would think a

Gosh, who would think a deserted, mold infested, falling down building would violate code?

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/25/12 - 07:04 am
3
0
One Pain in the posterior after another.

That would best sum up Regency Mall.

A National hills book store back in the early 1980's said it best.
We were "Malled to Death".

The Mall's killed Augusta and then Wally World put the sake through the heart.

All of which, I feel, eventually paved the way for city county consolidation to shore up downtown with south side taxes.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 07:44 am
4
0
Harassment

Commissioner Brigham is correct. The owners of this building are being harassed. There is absolutely no reason that an empty building must have functioning fire suppression systems. The code that requires sprinklers is for a functioning business, not a business that is closed and shuttered.

You will find many buildings around town that are closed businesses, and the first thing they do when they close is to shut off the utilities (telephone, power, water, gas, etc.). If they cite Regency Mall owners for shutting off the water, they need to cite the hundreds of other property owners around town who have shut off the water.

Here is a classic example of covetousness eating at the hearts of commissioners Lockett and Mason (and who knows who else in city government?). Leave the owners of this property in peace. It does not belong to the city and the city should butt out.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 08:28 am
3
0
Majority

Countyman posted:

The majority of people would rather look at the vacant lot compared to this ugly building for now.

We live in the United States of America. It used to be a free country, but is no more. The owner of this real estate and vacant building should be allowed to have the power turned off (resulting in no functioning smoke alarms) and to have the water turned off (resulting in no functioning fire sprinkers), just like every other closed business building in this county. By singling out only Cardinal Management, the city is opening itself up to a harassment lawsuit.

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 09/25/12 - 08:45 am
0
2
I can't think of one vacant

I can't think of one vacant property who reflects more negative on Augusta compared to the Regency Mall.. If you have several parts of Richmond County(I-520 near Sams, Carmax area, Stevens Creek, Riverwatch Pkwy, Furys Ferry, Washington, etc) that some people think belong to Columbia County... The obligation to fix up South Augusta increases, because it makes up the majority of the overall perception in some minds..

Gordon Hwy is still one of the most traveled roads in the metro, and the Regency Mall/Southgate area must be revitalize.. It doesn't have to become the thriving shopping center once again, but only improve... The owners of Regency Mall should be constantly harassed, and forced to demolish the building.. Next move onto the other large commercial buildings, and then residential areas...

I know Jerry Brigham lives in West Augusta, and there's no reason to visit this area of South Augusta often.. He still has to know the dilapidated building affects real estate prices, jobs, and tax revenue for the entire county..

Why would they fix up downtown with South Augusta taxes? When places like West Augusta, Summerville, and Forest Hills are much richer...

countyman
20724
Points
countyman 09/25/12 - 09:15 am
1
0
Little Lamb... I have no

Little Lamb... I have no sympathy for the owners who've let the property decay for years, and not lower the ridiculous price for the mall... Do you live in Richmond County? The Regency Mall is hurting the property values of nearby surrounding residential neighborhoods, and cause the shopping centers in proximity(Southgate and emtpy Winn Dixie plaza) to lose business.. What developer is going to invest millions to build something on Gordon Hwy/Deans Bridge rd near an empty mall? That's the reason blight has spread down Gordon Hwy and Deans Bridge heading towards or away from the mall...

The property values in West Augusta, Summerville, and definitely South Augusta would be even higher if the property was renovated... I do agree how the city should focus on several other nuisance properties too, but the Regency Mall is by far the worst....

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 09/25/12 - 09:19 am
3
0
Security...

If security had been beefed up when it was so badly needed years ago this place would still be a thriving mall...don't even get me started on that....

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 09:30 am
2
0
Home of the free and the brave

Countyman posted:

The owners of Regency Mall should be constantly harassed, and forced to demolish the building.

Yeah, that really sounds like the America we love — forcing citizens to cowtow to strangers who have no business poking their noses into other peoples' affairs.

The Regency Mall building poses no public health or public safety threat to anyone. Even if the building catches fire, it will not harm anyone else. This new fire chief is a sycophant, cozying up to Bill Lockett for some bizarre reason.

TrulyWorried
15536
Points
TrulyWorried 09/25/12 - 09:34 am
1
0
Security

Well spoken - seenit - I had an experience myself - I don't even go to Augusta Mall now - who knows what is lingering in the shadows there.

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 09/25/12 - 09:36 am
2
0
truly

Read my post on r/rs...that sums up what happened....hoodlums OWNED the place!

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 09:36 am
2
0
Davidson

Countyman posted:

I can't think of one vacant property who reflects more negative on Augusta compared to the Regency Mall.

The Richmond County Board of Education let the old Davidson school building sit and decay. The roof leaked so badly that it caved in and took the second-story floor with it. It is a dilapidated shell of a building now with no roof and no second floor. That government-owned building reflects more negatively on the city than a vacant shopping mall.

And speaking of the vacant Winn Dixie building on Gordon Hwy., do you want the government to force its owners to demolish it? Why or why not?

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 09/25/12 - 10:58 am
3
0
"Why would they fix up

"Why would they fix up downtown with South Augusta taxes? When places like West Augusta, Summerville, and Forest Hills are much richer..."

The population of South Augusta is much greater than the old city area of 44,000. Plus, most of the high tax paying industries are in South Augusta. They pay more in taxes than the old city. Yet, mega sums are spent downtown on the TEE and Laney Walker revitalization. There is a policy to redistribute the wealth of the outlying areas in the urban center. It's not unique to Augusta, but a national pattern.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 11:09 am
2
0
Elephants in Augusta

From the story:

“They’re bringing in tons and tons of weight in terms of the big elephants, lions and tigers and bears,” Commissioner Alvin Mason said.

Heavens me! Tons and tons of elephants, lions and tigers and bears resting on an asphalt parking lot! We, the people, must force the owner to demolish his building for bringing those animals in there!

Hey, Countyman, why don't you drive over to the vacant and boarded up business at 1817 Marvin Griffin Road. He cut off his power and water when he finally threw in the towel. Do you think the government should force him to demolish his building? After all, his parking lot might not be able to withstand tons and tons of elephants, lions and tigers and bears.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 09/25/12 - 11:33 am
4
0
They just need to secure the

They just need to secure the property. Squatters are already doing the job with igniting things. I just don't want kids using the place as a "hang out" when it gets fully-engaged. Secure it and keep access for the Firetrucks open. Sign a waiver that if it does go up in flames, the fire-fighters are not required to enter the building due to the unaddressed hazardous logistics.

Bottom line is that the building on the property will never be rehab'd.

Sweet son
10786
Points
Sweet son 09/25/12 - 11:47 am
2
0
David Parker has it right!

It will never be revived so push it up in a pile and haul it to the inert landfill you can see from Bobby Jones. When it is cleaned up then replant pine trees and then you won't have to worry about it for forty years.

Charlie Hannah
3
Points
Charlie Hannah 09/25/12 - 01:18 pm
1
0
Hold Them Responsible

The owners and operators should be held responsible for the upkeep and safety of their property just like the citizens of our city. Simple.

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 02:02 pm
2
0
Upkeep

The owners are keeping the property up. They have regular inspections. The roof is not leaking (unlike the old Davidson school ruined by the BOE), and the much ballyhooed "mold problem" was exposed as being a hoax.

I think the new fire chief is blowing smoke. Yes, functioning businesses have to have a fire suppression system and an alarm system to warn employees to exit the building. But there is no reason why an empty building at a shuttered business should have to have those two things.

As David Parker said, if the thing catches on fire, there is no need for the fire department to enter the building. Their only responsibility would be to see that the fire did not spread to other properties. Countyman would just as soon see the fire department let the thing burn to the ground as long as nothing else catches on fire.

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 09/25/12 - 02:06 pm
1
0
Site the property

Issue the appropriate citations for everyone. Then enforce them!

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 02:13 pm
1
0
Last Year

Almost exactly one year ago there was a good story about the police and fire personnel not having keys to open the swing gates at Regency Mall. The comments section was pretty good. Here is the link:

Barricades and Keys

Little Lamb
47263
Points
Little Lamb 09/25/12 - 04:24 pm
2
0
Tiny night club

RM had a good point up above about Mr. J's Famous Door Supper Club. It was a shut-down night club that sat on 0.15 acre (you read that right). The city paid $332,840 for that tiny parcel (plus they're going to have to demolish the building.

Using that $/area ratio as a benchmark, Regency Mall property would be worth over $300 million!

Riverman1
87512
Points
Riverman1 09/25/12 - 05:08 pm
3
0
Elephants and tigers taking

Elephants and tigers taking over Regency Mall. Funny stuff.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3100
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/25/12 - 09:24 pm
0
0
I worked at Regency Mall for

I worked at Regency Mall for the first time in 1981 at Karmelkorn & for the last time in June 1991 at JB White when I was put on bedrest while pregnant with our son.

My husband & I met & started dating while both of us were employees at JB White.

Throughout the years I had many great memories of Regency Mall. I ate my very first Chick-fil-a sandwich there, purchased my oldest daughters first tricycle & stood in line with crazy people to get her a Cabbage Patch doll when they first came out, saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time there at the midnight movies, shopped for a dress & shoes there for my grandmother's funeral when she died unexpectedly when I was 16 years old, ate at Dino's Pizza, Taco Viva, Corndog, Par Four, The Bulldog Lounge, got my ears pierced a second time at The Earring Tree, bought my first high heel shoes at Baker's ... the list of first centering around that wonderful building are endless!

What a damn shame! I can't think of any other words allowed on here to say but that.

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