Historic Augusta is asking the public to unite at today’s meeting against the city’s plans to tear down an antebellum courthouse annex and weigh in on the “futuristic” design of a proposed new Information Technology building.
The annex at 527 Telfair St., adjacent to the former Congregation Children of Israel Synagogue, was built before 1865 and is “a contributing building in the Augusta Downtown Historic District,” according to Robyn Anderson, the Historic Augusta preservation services director. The annex features a Greek pediment, ornate cornice line and Greek Revival entry portico.
The city wants to demolish the annex, now home to the city IT department and print shop, to replace parking spaces lost to the proposed new IT building. The plan went before the Historic Preservation Commission on Oct. 24.
Architect Virgo-Gambill’s design for the new IT building, a two-story, 20,000-square-foot structure with a garage door facing Greene Street, “fails utterly to meet existing design guidelines for the downtown historic district,” Anderson said.
“The plan calls for a futuristic structure with materials not approved for the district and a shape and style not complementary to the neighborhood or to adjacent buildings,” she said.
Historic Augusta is proposing the city demolish only rear additions to the annex building, redesign the IT building’s exterior and develop a master plan for the 500 block that “fits in with the aesthetic and architectural fabric of the Greene Street corridor, one of Augusta’s most beautiful and significant streets and neighborhoods.”
Asked Monday about the challenges Historic Augusta is posing for the city’s $40 million construction project, City Administrator Fred Russell said the project design was driven by the need to modernize the 1957 municipal building to meet current building codes, including fire prevention and accessibility for the disabled.
The city wants to construct the new IT building, allow IT to move in, then demolish the annex for parking. The plans also call for moving the entrance to the municipal building from Greene Street to Telfair Street.