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Officials seek to designate downtown a "slum"

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Is downtown Augusta a “slum?”

Susan McCord
Government Reporter
Twitter: @reportr1
E-mail | 706-823-3215

For the purpose of borrowing money to help fund some of the $40 million in renovations at Augusta Municipal Building, yes it is.

Going for approval Monday by a city committee is the official designation as a “slum area” of 594 downtown acres, bounded roughly by 15th and Reynolds streets, Gordon Highway and Walton Way.

The slum, according to a resolution designating downtown as an “Urban Redevelopment Area,” is fraught with dilapidation, deterioration, vacancy and obsolescence to the point of creating health hazards, encouraging crime and delinquency and increasing infant mortality. It also suffers from isolation – brought on by noise, the riverfront levee, rail lines that bisect historic districts and busy thoroughfares that create “psychological barriers” to growth and expansion, according to the resolution.

Despite some downtown detractors’ long-held assertions now nearly official, District 1 Commissioner Bill Fennoy disagreed. The area, which also includes the new Augusta Convention Center and a handful of incoming restaurants and bars, hasn’t sunk to that level.

“I wouldn’t describe it as a slum,” Fennoy said.

Made possible under Georgia’s Urban Redevelopment Law, governments can create Urban Redevelopment Areas in which – based on “slum” conditions – they have enhanced powers, including the issue of tax-exempt bonds not subject to statutory limits. In fact, a $26.5 million issue of revenue bonds is part of the slum designation package up for committee approval on Monday.

The $40.5 million Municipal Building renovations, part of the development area’s Urban Redevelopment Plan, are also a part of the package going for approval Monday. The renovations are to be paid using $8.9 million from SPLOST 6, $5.7 million from SPLOST 6-backed bonds issued in 2010 plus $26.5 million in new city-guaranteed bonds to be callable and repaid from SPLOST 7, although the next 1 percent sales tax won’t go before voters until next year.

The designation, which was similarly overlaid on the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem revitalization project, also gives a government increased powers to buy and sell properties for redevelopment, while waiving zoning and other requirements.

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nocnoc
57290
Points
nocnoc 09/06/13 - 07:36 am
5
1
In case you missed it....

"...repaid from SPLOST 7, although the next 1 percent sales tax won’t go before voters until next year."

NEXT SPLOST?
Will this be SPLOST 7 or 8 for those of you sticking around or still shopping in ARC?

seenitB4
112003
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seenitB4 09/06/13 - 07:39 am
6
1
woow...what a headline!

and then I read this..

For the purpose of borrowing money .

BubbaWayne
2
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BubbaWayne 09/06/13 - 08:21 am
0
7
Its just the definition that have to use

State law requires the commission to define the area as a "slum" in order to use the powers in that section of the Georgia code. If the code required the commission to define it as "Snickerdoodle," that's what they would have been required to do. Agree or disagree with the need for the tools they want for revitilization, or how they agree to pay for it, but don't get hung up on the word "slum;" it's just they way the law works.

seenitB4
112003
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seenitB4 09/06/13 - 08:23 am
7
1
Well bubba

It is sorta like a woman called a whore & then says...just kidding.

Pops
19822
Points
Pops 09/06/13 - 09:17 am
6
1
Why not

lean on the downtown property owners to clean up their own mess. I drive down there a bit and overall it looks dirty and unkempt.

dichotomy
42206
Points
dichotomy 09/06/13 - 09:18 am
8
1
"I believe the citizens

"I believe the citizens approved $18 million for the Municipal building improvements in the last splost."

Yes we did countyman.......And what did we spend THEY spend.....$40 million......so far.....and it ain't over yet.

Same thing with the TEE......we approved $20 million. What did THEY spend........about $100 million by the time it was all over with parking deck and management contracts?

Which just goes to show you.......the Commission......the Administrator.....the Mayor.....have ZERO regard for the will of the voters and for the taxPAYERS. They have ZERO regard for the letter of the law in these loosey goosey SPLOSTs they put on our ballots. You countyman, and our representatives, misunderstood the SPLOST that was approved. We did NOT approve building the TEE at any cost. We approved $20 million dollars to build the TEE. We agreed to float a bond and pay $20 million plus interest for the TEE. We DID NOT APPROVE WHAT THEY DID AND DID NOT APPROVE THE AMOUNT THEY SPENT. As far as I am concerned, the mayor, the Administrator, and ALL of the current and former commissioners that approve spending MORE on a project than was approved by the voters SHOULD BE CRIMINALLY LIABLE.

countyman you need to stop saying that the voters approved the TEE center and the municipal building. WE DID NOT. We approved $20 million and $18 million respectively. What THEY DID was basically outright THEFT of taxpayer money.

Hopefully, on the next SPLOST proposal, they will forego the AMOUNT and just be truthful. The wording should just say something to the effect that "The voters authorize the crooks and clowns that run the city to spend ANY amount they can manage to steal, waste, and otherwise pee away due to their incompetent arguing, bickering, showboating, and pandering . Whatever they spend we agree to pay for it for the next 50 years and we hope Paul Simon & "associates" enjoy it."

Just remember folks, the 2 year and 4 year "wonders" and our local "creative financing" Administrator who keep telling us we can spend money WE DON'T HAVE today, to do things that WE DON'T REALLY NEED TO DO......they will NOT BE HERE in 10, 20, 30 years when we CANNOT make the payments. They are feathering their financial and political nests, and those of their friends, TODAY and leaving the city in deep debt in the NEAR FUTURE. Either that or they are all just DUMB AS A ROCK.

Riverman1
106992
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Riverman1 09/06/13 - 09:21 am
5
0
Have Other GA Cities Done This?

Has any other city in Georgia ever declared their downtown area an official slum? Or is this something Russell and Co. thought of?

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
14928
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/06/13 - 09:30 am
4
1
Slum

The real slum is bordered south of Walton Way from 15th St, to Milledgeville Rd to Gordon Hwy and back to Walton Way. That's the real slum. But wait, they can't even find the money to fix and clean up Riverwalk, at least not until they get sued for 60 million in damages, pain and suffering. The entire bunch reminds me of ostriches!

Riverman1
106992
Points
Riverman1 09/06/13 - 09:49 am
7
0
I believe a few other cities

I believe a few other cities in the state have declared parts of their cities slum areas, but I can't find any who declared their entire downtown a slum area. This is making the newspapers all over the state.

Mr. Thackeray
1142
Points
Mr. Thackeray 09/06/13 - 10:08 am
6
1
Great Press

This is a fine way to spread the word on just how great Augusta is!

corgimom
45173
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corgimom 09/06/13 - 10:15 am
5
2
"The trends suggest young

"The trends suggest young families are moving into the urban core. "

That's funny, I could've sworn that Countyman said the urban core is attracting young, single professionals.

corgimom
45173
Points
corgimom 09/06/13 - 10:20 am
8
2
Look, I love Augusta. But

Look, I love Augusta.

But Downtown Augusta looks appalling. It is being called a slum because it is rapidly heading that way and it pretty much is. It is dirty, rundown, seedy. It's full of vacant, dilapidated buildings. And that may offend some people, but that's the truth. It looks like Atlantic City or the old part of Myrtle Beach.

Any visitor that would come through North Augusta, see how beautiful it is, and then come across the bridge- it's like getting a punch in the face. The contrast is terrible.

If they want $40 million for the Muncipal Building, you can bet it'll be $60 million by the time it's done.

The SPLOSTS just keep coming and coming and coming. It's getting overwhelming, especially when the voters approve the SPLOSTS and then it's never enough.

Put special taxes on a county, oh yeah, that'll make people want to move there!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
14928
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/06/13 - 10:38 am
6
1
Clean up

It seems ARC has the mentality of "Build it and they will come!". What they forget when they build it is that it has to be maintained. Look at the parks, the buildings ARC owns, the Riverwalk needs a couple hundred thousand to trim and cut down some trees. Hmm, now that comes to about $10,000 a year for the last 20 years. Some cities maintain what they have and constantly work to upgrade where ARC builds it and lets it go to seed until they can figure a way to pay a relative or friend to fix it for the big bucks. I do believe the City and RCCI can put some crews down there to take care of this at minimal cost and have it done in a week if someone with COMMON SENSE were to take over the project!!! Oooopss, I forgot, that is something they can't get a study on or buy at an inflated price from someone they know really well!!!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
14928
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/06/13 - 10:41 am
6
1
Corgi

You are right, most cities have a Downtown Development office that works to upgrade and beautify, not kick and scream for their piece of the budget pie that gives no return. Want to see the positives, Greensboro, GA, Waynesboro, GA, Millen GA, Swainsboro GA, Savannah GA, Thomson GA, just to name a few!!

corgimom
45173
Points
corgimom 09/06/13 - 10:47 am
6
2
Take a look right across the

Take a look right across the river at North Augusta. What they have done over there is amazing, and makes DT Augusta look just that much worse.

...point to ponder
790
Points
...point to ponder 09/06/13 - 11:02 am
5
1
this a joke, right?

Our elected and appointed leaders will take pride in being designated a 'slum' to get federal funds.

I believe we need new, effective leaders before we need a new designation.

It's sickening that it took a 'tour' of the Riverwalk for our elected body to recognize our Riverwalk was in trouble after the horrific beating took place months ago. Now they have excuses to back off the necessary improvements.

I just don't believe our elected and appointed leadership have a clue as to what they are doing.

Its one misstep after another...no one has a real plan backed by strong convictions to get anything done!

From the Mayor down they are all missing in action.

countyman
22732
Points
countyman 09/06/13 - 11:27 am
2
8
Facts

The property values in the CBD are clearly some of the highest in the CSRA.

Corgimom... The urban core is attracting both young families and singles.. The over 1.5 million visitors to Richmond County every day love downtown Augusta..

Riverman1
106992
Points
Riverman1 09/06/13 - 11:32 am
8
2
"The over 1.5 million

"The over 1.5 million visitors to Richmond County every day love downtown Augusta."

An example of an opinion. Many don't even go downtown.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
14928
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/06/13 - 11:39 am
4
1
Want

I want what someone else is having!!!! :)

LillyfromtheMills
15051
Points
LillyfromtheMills 09/06/13 - 11:54 am
6
2
No pride, no shame

Leaders of this consolidated govt. You are all whores. Sorry Sean.

noway
201
Points
noway 09/06/13 - 12:11 pm
6
1
then fix it

So Commissioners are designating downtown as a slum so that they can get money to build a new city hall? If it's a slum, then if they are going to borrow money, shouldn't they borrow the money to FIX the so-called slum? I guess they are saying City Hall is a slum. WOW.

countyman
22732
Points
countyman 09/06/13 - 12:20 pm
2
9
Tourism..

Downtown still attracts more visitors than Martinez. None of the over 1.5 million visitors coming to Richmond County are visiting Martinez.

The Border Bash, Arts in the Heart, and ESI Ironman are being held this month in the CBD.

Noway.. The article says 'city committee', and not the commissioners.

Fiat_Lux
18004
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/06/13 - 12:31 pm
8
1
Until the thugs and lowlife are moved away

from having easy access to the CBD slum, there is no way that particular area is going to thrive. Section 8 may be moving some of it to South Augusta, but there's still too much "unpleasantness" and the threat of it happening in the CBD for people to feel safe and comfortable there after dark.

Tourists may come, but it is only because there is safety within the herd. They absolutely don't come to the CBD as a family vacation tourist spot as with Savannah. They come for big events of interest, not for the city and its fascinating CBD.

corgimom
45173
Points
corgimom 09/06/13 - 01:15 pm
7
2
"The over 1.5 million

"The over 1.5 million visitors to Richmond County every day love downtown Augusta."

Countyman, how do you know that? Did you talk to every 1.5 million of them? Because I'm one of them, and you didn't talk to me, and no, it's sad and depressing to be in DT Augusta.

Your ridiculous grandiose statements defy logic.

By the way, Countyman, since I'm misleading the public about the poverty figures that are from 2011, I asked you, I'm asking you again- what are the 2012 figures, that haven't been released yet?

Perhaps the 200,000 citizens of Richmond County, that, according to you are "tired" of what I'm saying, would like to know too. Did you talk to all 200,000 of them, too?

Really, Countyman, do you read your posts before you hit the "Save Comment"? Do you value credibility?

corgimom
45173
Points
corgimom 09/06/13 - 01:16 pm
6
1
"None of the over 1.5 million

"None of the over 1.5 million visitors coming to Richmond County are visiting Martinez."

Countyman, how do you know this? Do you trail each one of them, to make sure that they stay in Richmond County?

Really, your statements are getting wilder and wilder!

vermint
1437
Points
vermint 09/06/13 - 01:17 pm
5
0
The Summit...

comes to mind. The outside of the building looks OK (never been inside) but those residents do not belong in the CBD. People are afraid to pass by there, and the police/fire department are there an average of probably 3 times a week. Sometimes with an ambulance, more often not. Over the years I've been downtown, at least 2 bank robbers have taken refuge there after robbing a downtown bank--I'm thinking because they knew someone there. The people need somewhere to live, but downtown is not the place.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
14928
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/06/13 - 01:45 pm
5
1
Hmm

I pass through ARC on my way to Martinez or North Augusta to make purchases. Can anyone guess why? Hmmm, Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike why is that!!???? Because I feel safer spending my money there.
I get into the "CBD" 2 or 3 times a year on business only, not for pleasure!!

raul
6951
Points
raul 09/06/13 - 02:07 pm
6
0
Well, I see it made the

Well, I see it made the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Associated Press. Wonder if other newspapers will pick it up? http://www.ajc.com/news/ap/georgia/augusta-to-consider-slum-designation-...

This reminds me of those occasions growing up when my Dad would say, Son, have you no pride?

corgimom
45173
Points
corgimom 09/06/13 - 02:14 pm
5
0
vermint, the Summit was

vermint, the Summit was supposed to revitalize downtown. Just one of the MANY projects that was supposed to revitalize it.

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