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Augusta Commission committee action aids Georgia Regents University's mills campus plan

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Augusta’s plan to develop a Mills Campus and Cultural Campus to support the growth of Georgia Regents University got a little push Tuesday when a commission committee authorized spending $300,000 and use of a city property to further develop the proposal.

The agenda addition, presented at the start of the city’s Engineering Services committee by Mayor Deke Copenhaver, gave Augusta Regional Collaboration Project use of a 1735 Goodrich Street property and $300,000. It passed 3-0 with Engineering chairman Joe Jackson absent.

The funds, according to an earlier presentation by ARC Project Director Matt Kwatinetz, will be used to “fully vet these projects and attract tenants, grants and private partners,” including the collection of environmental and other data at Sibley and King mills, to be redeveloped into rental space.

While little has been said publicly about the proposal’s support by the University System Board of Regents or Georgia Regents University, Copenhaver – who founded the ARC Project – said Tuesday he believed the Regents were “on board,” but that time to complete planning was running out.

In another matter, the city’s public services committee voted to suspend the license of Skittlez Bar and Grill for 30 days and place the Gordon Highway club on probation for six months after an April incident involving a 16-year-old patron and an adult dancer who was not permitted to perform at the club.

Sheriff’s Investigator Tony Hyatt said he’d learned of multiple instances of nudity at the club, while the teen had been “very openly proud of what he did on stage.”

Attorney for club owner Timothy Lowery, Hank Crane, said the violation was an isolated incident and that the club was reviewing its ID policy and obtaining an electronic card reader to verify IDs at the door. The motion to suspend Skittlez’ license passed 3-0 with Chairman Grady Smith absent. Afterward, Crane said he wasn’t sure of his client’s next steps.

In other action, commission committees:

• Referred City Administrator Fred Russell’s request to extend for two years the city’s contract with Heery International to the full commission. Since 2003, the firm – along with contractors Dukes Edwards Duke and Gallop and Associates – has served as project manager on most city sales tax-funded construction projects.

• Agreed to lease for 50 years a 14-acre, city-owned riverfront tract to Savannah Riverkeeper, which has been removing trash from the site for several years. Riverkeeper Director Tonya Bonitatibus said she’ll seek federal Superfund dollars to fund further cleanup of contamination at the site, but with commission approval of the lease the group will have kayak trails out of the site within a few months.

• Agreed to a refund of penalties and interest owed by Vishad Patel on a former motel site at 1602 Gordon Highway. Patel said he bought the property at a bank foreclosure sale with unpaid taxes of $33,125 but wanted the commission to exempt him from paying them as he develops a small truck stop at the site.

• Agreed to abandon sections of Oak and Emmett streets within the campus of Paine College.

• Sent the administrator to work with Solid Waste Director Mark Johnson on some final tweaks to the city’s new garbage collection program, which begins next week. Two District 8 residents complained at the committee meeting about new requirements they pay for city garbage collection and a 300-foot setback requirement for residents to be exempt

• Agreed to hold a workshop on the issue of parking downtown, while a moratorium on parking tickets for exceeding the two-hour limit remains in effect. Downtown businesswoman Kay White said not enforcing the limit on weekends was hurting her antiques business, as were crime reports, but that the city continued to listen to “only the big property owners.”

• Agreed to adopt a rotating schedule for committee meetings, which have lasted five hours or more in recent weeks.

• Agreed during a called meeting of the full commission to spend $809,000 in sales tax funds to buy a section of Frontage Road off Mason McKnight Jr. Parkway from the Giddings Group, owned by developer Peter Caye III.

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countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/28/13 - 10:30 pm
4
5
Excellent!!

The Cultural/Mills campuses will change the landscape of the entire county.. Additional tax base, transplants, upscale retail, fine dining, new companies/industry, increased cosmopolitan feel, etc..

These are the kind of 'developments' were cities began to take giant leaps forward.

showboat
330
Points
showboat 05/28/13 - 10:19 pm
0
0
why don't you clowns take
Unpublished

why don't you clowns take some of this money and give the county worker a raise. eneryone say what they are going to do when they get in office, will remember when the next election come around!!!!!!!!

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 05/28/13 - 10:50 pm
7
3
Yeah right....

GRU should pay for their own stuff. They are a for profit business funded by tax payer dollars!!

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/28/13 - 11:25 pm
2
7
Augusta is growing up

The Cultural campus includes proposal included the civic park, performing arts center, business incubator, etc(much bigger than GRU)...

http://aug-cdn.com/sites/default/files/Mills%20Proposal.pdf

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 05/28/13 - 11:39 pm
6
3
Are they going to have

a Five Guys in there somewhere?

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/28/13 - 11:47 pm
2
6
The usual recipe!

Their probably going to have a lot of people on the outside looking in, and people jumping on the bandwagon later on. Some of the people living in Houston and Dallas used to make sarcastic remarks about the city of Austin.

They can easily incorporate retail and restaurants into the designs..

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 05/28/13 - 11:49 pm
8
2
I bet they are going to have...

a lot of tax payers with empty pockets and nothing to show for it...if Augusta treats them like they usually do...

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/29/13 - 12:29 am
2
6
Can't spin this one..

I don't think it's a coincidence the private sector is covering the majority of initial funding. Game changing developments attract things like Artspace, Nederlander organization, private developers, non profits, etc..

http://www.nederlander.com/
http://www.artspace.org/

The same few people are negative in terms of anything positive related to Augusta. The Augusta mall just attracted H&M(first outside of Atlanta and zero locations in South Carolina), and the suburban moms continue to use the Kroc Center in Harrisburg.. The Laney Walker/Bethlehem development has attracted both national/statewide recognition.. Harvard Journal of real estate use the words 'Game Changing' in relation to the progress. Augusta continues to prove the doubters/pessimist wrong, and Starbucks/Rockwood are two more examples...

Bodhisattva
5997
Points
Bodhisattva 05/29/13 - 03:25 am
7
2
Why is the city spending

Why is the city spending almost 4/5 of a million for "a section" of a frontage road? Also, my new company, We do the Studyin' You Do the Payin', happily offer our services and for the low low price of $250,000, we'll come up with an answer on whether or not cities conduct too many surveys and studies and pay exorbitant prices for them. This is a topic the city just might want to knock around at a meeting or two. Our on staff psychic says she already has the result but the spirits won't let her three letter answer until she gets paid.

Riverman1
82393
Points
Riverman1 05/29/13 - 06:06 am
9
2
Laney Walker Blues

The Laney Walker project has received national awards, but the results have been less than respectable. Tens of million of dollars have or will be poured into the area, yet the same residents, benefiting from the funding, remain. It has not attracted new and more affluent people to the area which is paramount. If you want to change any urban area for the better, the key is to attract a different demographic.

Shortcomment
1158
Points
Shortcomment 05/29/13 - 06:44 am
7
0
Follow the $$$$.

Follow the $$$$.

How many are now curious which group(s)own, or have quiet
interests in properties surrounding the mill?

Brad Owens
4290
Points
Brad Owens 05/29/13 - 07:18 am
5
2
RM1 has it right...

But the only way to "attract a different demographic..." is by making it safe.

Instead of spending $300K on another study, they should be restoring Sheriff Roundtree's budget so he can fill those 70 or so empty slots at the RCSO.

This is just another CABAL special, and the best part is, they haven't even changed the play book. I mean why would they? We have never said no to any of this projects that makes them rich yet.

@shortcomment, you're also 100% correct, but look at who has bought up the surrounding properties, those are the guys pushing this. Same names as downtown.

Brad

Little Lamb
45313
Points
Little Lamb 05/29/13 - 08:29 am
4
1
Why?

From the sidebar:

• Agreed during a called meeting of the full commission to spend $809,000 in sales tax funds to buy a section of Frontage Road off Mason McKnight Jr. Parkway from the Giddings Group, owned by developer Peter Caye III.

I join Bodhisattva in his concern. What is the purpose of this purchase? How it it proposed to benefit the citizens? This “called meeting” approved this item out of the blue. There was no discussion, no debate, no prior notification in the media so the public could express its opinion through its commissioners. Looks like the Augusta Commission is about as transparent as the Obama administration.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

ETA: I guess it's okay because, as Countyman frequently reminds us, a majority of voters approved the sales tax referendum. Of course, this particular piece of property was not listed on the ballot referendum question, but that doesn't matter.

Old Timmer
260
Points
Old Timmer 05/29/13 - 08:54 am
4
2
How uninformed can you get?

If GRU takes over these mill buildings they will not be on the tax base anymore & the "state" (that's us) will have to pay for asbestos removal & land contamination, etc. Just a thought but how many fine eating & apparel stores opened around the ASU student housing on Wrightsboro Rd? NONE! Deke & crew want to dump this white elephant on state taxpayers & brag what a great thing they have done.

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 05/29/13 - 09:03 am
3
3
Careful...

The usual suspects don't like it when you doubt how up and coming and great Augusta is. With their projected over population boom in the Census in 30 years...I saw it on the internet...has to be true....oh and a Five Guys and the Starbucks place...yep we will be as big as Chicago soon!!

AutumnLeaves
7125
Points
AutumnLeaves 05/29/13 - 09:10 am
4
2
While critical needs of the

While critical needs of the community, like emergency warning sirens throughout the city that can be triggered either through the usual way or manually if systems fail, for chemical spills, industrial accidents, railroad derailments, tornadoes, and other emergencies, to augment the emergency 911 system already in place, keep getting put off. Do you know when I got a phone call tornado warning several years ago for my area in 30906? AFTER IT WENT OVER US! dropping insulation from the church roof it had torn off all over our yard and for miles around us. The tornado touched down again not far from Hillcrest cemetery not long after. This tornado had been traveling toward us all the way from at least Grovetown! Yet, we were not notified by the emergency system in a timely fashion. Are we going to wait until there are preventable deaths before we put sirens in place?

AutumnLeaves
7125
Points
AutumnLeaves 05/29/13 - 09:18 am
2
1
Here is a letter to the

Here is a letter to the editor (not by me) of the importance of emergency sirens: http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2006/03/19/let_71846.shtml

AutumnLeaves
7125
Points
AutumnLeaves 05/29/13 - 09:22 am
2
1
Here is an Augusta Chronicle

Here is an Augusta Chronicle article about Clarke County's then 12 emergency sirens importance: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/2013-04-01/athens-residents-recall-tor...

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/29/13 - 01:19 pm
4
3
More false spin

I think we all can see why Augusta is so far behind in different categories.. People are complaining about expanding GRU which provides millions of revenue for the state.. Then you have the usual people who complain about everything without even having the facts..

Why does somebody who lives in Martinez always portray their opinion as fact in terms of things in Richmond County? Does anybody really believe Riverman spends much time in the Laney Walker area? The hotel-motel tax is paying(not the city of Augusta taxpayers) for the development, and it includes both Laney Walker/Bethlehem..

The development in 2011 added $3.3 million to the local tax base, 44 jobs, and the overall investment was $5.2 million
http://chronicle.augusta.com/opinion/opinion-columns/2012-02-04/improved...

The Chronicle also has more than one article related to 'new' residents moving in..
http://chronicle.augusta.com/life/home/2013-01-18/todays-home-heritage-p...
http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2011-03-02/first-home-sold-laney...

Riverman can probably fool the people who live 10-15 miles from the urban core similar to him, and don't visit these urban areas often.. I live downtown, and can easily see the changes in the area.

Riverman1
82393
Points
Riverman1 05/29/13 - 01:37 pm
5
0
Laney Walker a Destination Vacation Place

Oh, I'm sure you believe Laney Walker is a destination vacation place. But, seriously, your idea that the hotel tax or any kind of revenue doesn't belong to the taxpayers is puzzling. The large manufacturers in South Augusta pay lots in taxes, too. The residents are not paying it, but that doesn't mean you should give the revenue to small, special interest areas. Spending the hotel tax in the Laney Walker area to the tune of $50 million makes no sense. Do you think those who stay in the hotels all over the county visit there?

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/29/13 - 01:52 pm
2
3
Underused properties

The Sibley Mill is vacant, and only provides hydro-power.. The King Mill is home to Standard Textile, but the building is still underused..

Augusta is missing out in terms of millions of additional tax base if these properties were both renovated.. Georgia Power is even interested in building at solar power installation at the site..

Where do you see any private developers rushing to take control over the properties by themselves? How can anybody think doing nothing is better than renovated the properties? What does a empty Sibley Mill do for Augusta?

The comments on here are EXACTLY why the Regency Mall is still vacant.. Stop letting he vocal minority(many who don't even live in Augusta) who usually bash Augusta no matter the subject from out speaking the people who want better for Augusta.

The Sibley Mill just received a $200k grant to help with the cleanup of Sibley Mill..
http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/Augusta-Canal-Authority-receives-EPA-...

There's no point of comparing one student housing development versus this proposal... The 'Mills' campus by itself would include the Sibley/King Mills, and the bus terminal on Broad street. And be located right next to the 25 acre development near Kroger, Kroger shopping center/Harrisburg parcels owned by the MCG foundation, existing Kroc Center, etc...

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/29/13 - 02:04 pm
3
3
Facts

Please don't change the subject, because I proved you wrong.. I'm sure you believe Columbia County is a destination vacation place..

I can't participate in debates were the comments are so far off topic.. How are large manufactures paying taxes even related to tourist visiting hotels?

...point to ponder
743
Points
...point to ponder 05/29/13 - 02:06 pm
3
0
Question of priorities

The commission finds $300,000 for this study. Where does the city find $300000 for this study or all the other studies when they -- the Commission-- always make it sound like 'we' don't have any money?

Cudos to the visionaries here BUT the biggest stumbling block is the railroad and their tracks....they aren't going to be moved unless someone has billions of $ to lay new tracks and find the needed right of ways.

Save the $300,000....for a rainy day.

...point to ponder
743
Points
...point to ponder 05/29/13 - 02:07 pm
3
0
Public funds

... and the $300,000 is public fundung NOT private dollars...

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/29/13 - 02:17 pm
0
4
Funds

The $300k is public funding, but the private sector is providing much more..

Riverman1
82393
Points
Riverman1 05/29/13 - 03:22 pm
5
0
Lack of Communications

CMan said, "Please don't change the subject, because I proved you wrong.. I'm sure you believe Columbia County is a destination vacation place..

I can't participate in debates were the comments are so far off topic.. How are large manufactures paying taxes even related to tourist visiting hotels?"

I'm sorry you are having trouble with this debate. But I'm sure people would rather vacation at the lake in Columbia County than on Bait Car Blvd. Who said manfacturers' taxes are related to tourists visiting hotels? They're not and that's exactly the point. Guests in hotels should also not be paying for renovations of Laney Walker. They have nothing to do with each other.

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 05/29/13 - 05:18 pm
4
0
Really?

I think we all can see why Augusta is so far behind in different categories.. People are complaining about expanding GRU which provides millions of revenue for the state.. and how much in our tax dollars do we pay for this? I'm all for private development but not at the tune of another 300k of public money that we don't have. Also, if GRU brings in millions and it's such a sweet deal then why don't they foot the entire bill? Someone like countyman saying someone is off subject? Now that's the joke of the day!!

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 05/29/13 - 05:44 pm
2
3
Bright future

The GRU pedestrian village will bring even more positive changes for Laney Walker.. The total investment is $37.5 million, and not $50 million.

Why would GRU pay for the Artspace development, performing arts center, civic park, etc by themselves?

If this is not such a good deal? Then why is Artspace, Georgia Power, Nederlander Organization, etc interested?

Why did the Chancellor, Board of Regents, Governor, etc let the plan get this far unless they can see the major opportunity?

The city definitely needs to spend $300k when hundreds of millions in return investment are sitting on the table...

GnipGnop
11890
Points
GnipGnop 05/29/13 - 06:10 pm
4
0
Because someone in their pocket will benefit?

Obviously you don't know how Augusta politics work do you? The 50 million was the blackmail deal that Betty Beard brokered for her vote....remember that one? BTW how many conventions are we up to this year? Our commission ran the hockey team off too.

CobaltGeorge
155438
Points
CobaltGeorge 05/29/13 - 06:37 pm
3
1
Countyman

One Question?

Just how long do you expect live to see all your dreams and predictions come true?

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