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Officials seek to designate downtown a "slum"

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Is downtown Augusta a “slum?”

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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corgimom
31440
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 08:29 pm
18
4
Countyman REALLY isn't going

Countyman REALLY isn't going to like this one!

You are talking about his beloved CBD!

The CBD is a slum!

Oooh......

Brad Owens
4290
Points
Brad Owens 09/06/13 - 12:19 pm
14
1
DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!! DANGER!!!

Where did this come from? I mean where in the world did this plan COME FROM?

And let me just add this...

I want to know who came up with this exceptionally bad idea. It may help the city get some loans or issue bonds, but what about the damage to the protective zoning not to mention the fact we are calling an area we spend 100s of millions trying to "revitalize" a SLUM? What about the power being grabbed by the office of the administrator? Is this REALLY as it seems; is it about escalating the cost of this repair job or is it about getting this designation to help the CABAL with their land holdings in downtown? I would have MANY questions if I were a commissioner, I am really starting to smell a rat in this one.

Farmboy
934
Points
Farmboy 09/05/13 - 09:02 pm
8
1
A slum?

Well pardon me for not having been born into the Vanderbilt family. I'll hold my breath as you walk by.

deestafford
26550
Points
deestafford 09/05/13 - 09:05 pm
12
1
This is horse squeeze!

First off that is a ridiculous amount of money to upgrade that white elephant. Second, it's not a slum. Blighted and rundown, maybe; but, not a slum. Just another word game to suck down money.

corgimom
31440
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 09:09 pm
11
4
"The slum, according to a

"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."

At LONG LAST, somebody in Augusta has the fortitude to stand up and speak the truth!

corgimom
31440
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 09:12 pm
11
3
Definition of a slum: a

Definition of a slum: a densely populated usually urban area marked by crowding, dirty run-down housing, poverty, and social disorganization

Sounds pretty descriptive and accurate to me!

Frank I
1174
Points
Frank I 09/05/13 - 09:11 pm
16
1
just another scam

for the city to fleece taxpayers of millions of dollars...

corgimom
31440
Points
corgimom 09/05/13 - 09:12 pm
7
5
Well, frank 1, do you want

Well, frank 1, do you want Federal taxpayers to pay for it, or local ones?

Brad Owens
4290
Points
Brad Owens 09/05/13 - 09:36 pm
10
1
What if...

What if the SPLOST 7 does not pass? Who pays then? They are spending money that has not only not been collected, but has not even been approved by the taxpayers to be collected yet.

Kinda counting their chickens aren't they?

GnipGnop
11891
Points
GnipGnop 09/05/13 - 09:43 pm
14
2
I wish

Someone would work as hard for South Augusta as they do for a 10 block stretch downtown...wake up South Augustans you are being treated like 2nd class citizens!!!!

Frank I
1174
Points
Frank I 09/05/13 - 09:46 pm
11
1
Apparently you just skipped

Apparently you just skipped straight to the comments Corgimom.. this is a loan from the Fed to be paid back with local tax monies we as citizens haven't even approved yet.. they're banking with our money and they haven't even asked us yet..

mike71345
75
Points
mike71345 09/05/13 - 10:04 pm
8
2
Commission to Discuss Declaring Local Historic District a "Slum"

"...a 'slum area' of 594 downtown acres, bounded roughly by 15th and Reynolds streets, Gordon Highway and Walton Way."
These are almost the exact boundaries of the Downtown Historic District. I wonder why Olde Town, an Historic District contiguous to that of Downtown, is being left out. My own guess is that property owners in Olde Town aren't as well-connected (or well-heeled) as property owners in Augusta's lucrative downtown slum-to-be.

Little Lamb
45321
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 10:18 pm
9
2
Let Sanity Prevail

Commissioners must vote NO! on this Fred Russell plan.

Russell's idea is to bypass state requirements designed to protect taxpayers from crushing debt and taxes. This kind of thinking leads to Detroit outcomes.

Vote NO!

afrost777
13
Points
afrost777 09/05/13 - 10:22 pm
11
2
More ways for the landowners,

More ways for the landowners, organizations, and contractors to siphon money from fed grants and line their pockets while letting the city rot into another Detroit. All of those organizations that are supposed to help build and renovate merely use the same consultants and contractors that end up just pocketing money and never doing a thing. You may see a couple of new cheaply made houses sprout up. Most of the money will still make it into the usual suspects pockets.

Little Lamb
45321
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 10:37 pm
10
5
Obama Way

The keystone of the Obama administration is Government By Waiver. Just appoint a magisterium to appropriate taxpayer money for whatever the man in charge wants to do. Make rules for the dumb masses to follow, but allow waivers for the ruling elite.

From the story up above we see that this proposed designation would create waivers for the cognescienti. (See the last paragraph in the above story)

dichotomy
32125
Points
dichotomy 09/05/13 - 10:45 pm
11
1
Noooooo...........They are

Noooooo...........They are obligating us to $26.5 million dollars of debt to be paid back out of a SPLOST that HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED......AND HOPEFULLY WON'T BE.

They are totally OUT OF CONTROL. The are willing to declare the entire downtown area to be a SLUM to run this scheme to get money to spend today that WE have NOT AGREED TO SPEND OR TO PAY BACK.

Who are these people making these STUPID, OUGHT TO BE ILLEGAL, DECISIONS............and why can't we pour hot tar and feathers on them and ride them out of town on a rail?

Here we go Southside.....another $26.5 million PLUS interest for the next 50 years that WILL NOT BE SPENT IN YOUR AREA. Ooooh and they get increased power to waive zoning requirements........maybe some of you will be lucky enough to get a 40,000 gallon Chlorine tank with an orange windsock next to your house like I did. If there is anything I like is for the same government that has the power to MAKE THE RULES, AND THEN TO MAKE YOU OBEY THE RULES to also have the power to BREAK THE RULES WHEN THEY DEEM IT CONVENIENT.

Do ANY of these local politicians ever asked themselves why some people just snap and end up on the 6:30 national news with everyone saying "no motive has been identified". Well you don't have to look far in Richmond County to find a motive.

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 09/05/13 - 11:00 pm
1
14
There's no point of

There's no point of responding to the usual comments. The private construction in the CBD speaks for itself. The CBD, Olde Town, Waters Edge, Medical District, and parts of Laney Walker/Harrisburg aren't slums.

The only slums would be East Augusta, the sketchy areas of Laney Walker & Harrisburg, MLK, Turpin Hill, 15th street near Cherry Tree, Old Savannah, etc.

Little Lamb
45321
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 11:02 pm
12
2
Memo:

To Fred Russell, Deke Copenhaver, Augusta Commissioners - - -

Augusta does not need more funding. Instead, Augusta needs less spending!

KSL
126683
Points
KSL 09/05/13 - 11:39 pm
5
3
Countyman

Pay up, bud. You have tooted your whistle for years. You will heap huge benefits in the future going forwatd when you move to the suburbs with your wife and children.

Little Lamb
45321
Points
Little Lamb 09/05/13 - 11:49 pm
9
2
Scoop of the Year

After I read this story, I went to the local TV news stations to get their take. Neither Channel 6 nor Channel 12 covered this story on the 11:00 p.m. news. Instead, one of them covered a story of the importance of exercise for old folks.

Augusta Chronicle rocks on local coverage!

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 09/06/13 - 02:54 am
2
14
Augusta is moving forward

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

I think my kids would love growing up in Olde Town, CBD, Summerville, Forest Hills, Country Club Hills, or Waters Edge.

I expect for Sand Hills, Laney Walker, and Harrisburg, to improve greatly over the next few years, and begin to attract more families. The Medical District will probably focus on singles, because you're going to have to build up.

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

Riverman1
82414
Points
Riverman1 09/06/13 - 03:56 am
11
1
Augusta Has Lost Its Pride

No pride. Sell yourself and reputation to please the city government panderers. Borrowing from the reserve fund to pay the bills and now this scheme. The Vice Squad should lock them all up.

Riverman1
82414
Points
Riverman1 09/06/13 - 04:34 am
11
1
So Which Is It?

If the Augusta bureaucrats don't actually believe downtown is a slum and are lying to the feds simply to be able to borrow money, the feds should get involved and turn down any borrowing schemes. Personally, I believe it more than meets the definition of a slum area, but that doesn't mean I'd borrow money to throw at it, leaving the rest of the county to pay off the loan.

Lori Davis
905
Points
Lori Davis 09/06/13 - 05:22 am
11
1
Sorry Countyman, All of

Sorry Countyman, All of Harrisburg was designated a slum in 2010 to make it an Opportunity Zone, a zoning change of mass proportions without a public hearing... which by the way was against the law. The application that was put together by George Patty to send to the the DCA for approval stated that he got these stats through a privately funded study which just so happens, did not exist. I guess our government is getting the last little bit out of Mr. Patty before he retires. Just an observation......Augusta has no rule of law....Oh, and Riverman...the feds don't care...been down that road.

Bodhisattva
6011
Points
Bodhisattva 09/06/13 - 06:06 am
4
6
Obama?

"The Urban Redevelopment Act (O.C.G.A. 36-61-1 et. seq.) was adopted in 1955 by the Georgia General Assembly."

http://www.dca.state.ga.us/communities/downtowndevelopment/publications/...

Community Development Block Grants were created in 1974 under Gerald Ford. Just a tad before Obama's time.

Fiat_Lux
15115
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/06/13 - 06:22 am
6
0
Has anyone thought about filing an injunction

to stop this stupidity from coming to a vote without a voter referendum? Can that be done in a case like this?

When elected officials play fast and loose with taxpayer fiscal obligations, it's time to do some serious showing up and even some recalling.

corgimom
31440
Points
corgimom 09/06/13 - 06:38 am
8
2
Lori, don't confuse Countyman

Lori, don't confuse Countyman with the facts.

nocnoc
41303
Points
nocnoc 09/06/13 - 07:00 am
7
1
We are moving forward

What do I care if Downtown screws the pooch yet again, my family has decided to leave and we are about 1/2 packed. Pictures on request to regular bloggers, if you doubt.

Like Brad more less said ....
This was sudden and unexpected. I speak with more than a few political types every week and this wasn't ever mentioned.

Make No mistake about it
The Downtown Mob is getting ready to slap ARC residents with yet
another TAX to pay for this latest round of DOWNTOWN million $$$$
renovations.

Not even a 1/3 of the money is coming from inside the old city limits. We the residents of ARC (Richmond co.) will have the commission and Fred in our pockets yet again.

QUESTIONS:
Why bother spend more to fix it than it costs to demo and rebuild it better?

Why $40 million to renovate?

IF they MUST spend $$$$ like an addict needs a fix, then
accomplish something while doing it. Let them give ALL of ARC recovery fix.

For $12-14 Million buy Regency Mall. - That was the last price offered I understand.

For $10 - $20 Million Renovate it into a CENTRALIZED Municipal
Building complex. Then a 1 Stop, 1 stop, and plenty of close by parking.

If we are truly a CONSOLIDATED Government? Then start acting like it. Quit milking the County taxpayers to fund a failing city and pump collected tax $$$$$ into repeated DOWNTOWN focused Renovations and Giveaway plans, while neglecting the county Taxpayers that make it possible

Downtown needs to get out of the idea of Washington DC type Tax
and Spend, just because they can.

If this type of 1 sided abuse keeps up,
De-consolidation is not that far away .

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 09/06/13 - 06:41 am
0
0
A whore will do anything for money.
Unpublished

A whore will do anything for money.

townsends
185
Points
townsends 09/06/13 - 07:18 am
9
1
NUTS

LOL, you just cannot make this stuff up to be any more asinine.

The city administrator, with overwhelming support (or lack thereof) from the commissioners, police, and the rest of the local government, is failing to manage, maintain, and make livable, their charge. Because of this failure, the local government wants a handout from the state government and more money from the local populace to do what they already said they would do with the resources they are allotted.

At one time in this great country people were fired for incompetence, not given more resources to screw up further. That is truly asinine.

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