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Mills proposal seeking $12 million, still no GRU interest in campus

Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 8:19 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 1:09 AM
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The Augusta Regional Collaboration Project needs nearly $12 million to advance its “Mills District” proposal, with or without involvement by Georgia Regents University, according to ARC Executive Director Matt Kwatinetz.

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City officials are pushing the idea of redeveloping the historic Sibley Textile Mill along with the neighboring King Mill, into educational or housing space for the campus expansion of Georgia Regents University.   FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
City officials are pushing the idea of redeveloping the historic Sibley Textile Mill along with the neighboring King Mill, into educational or housing space for the campus expansion of Georgia Regents University.

In a Monday presentation of requests to go on the city’s next special purpose, local option sales tax referendum, Kwatinetz informed the one commissioner who attended, Wayne Guilfoyle, that renovating two historic textile mills in the Harrisburg Mill District is “similar to having a mall” in that the project needs an anchor tenant.

For more than a year, Mayor Deke Copenhaver and some commission members have pushed the idea of renovating the Sibley and King mills – a combined 1 million square feet of vacant real estate located on 2,000 acres of greenspace – into educational or housing space to support the consolidation of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University.

While the city has spent $300,000 to develop the proposal, it hasn’t won support from GRU. A University System Board of Regents-commissioned study last year ranked the mills campus option least favorable of three options for campus expansion, and a new campus master plan, expected to weigh in on the mills proposal, isn’t complete.

GRU spokeswoman Christen Carter said Monday the master planners “haven’t really delved in and evaluated any of the opportunities, including the Mills district.”

Copenhaver said “it is exciting to me that they have committed to expanding in the urban core” whether or not GRU embraces the mills proposal.

Asked by Guilfoyle if ARC had a backup plan, Kwatinetz said “forget about GRU” and focus on the large available buildings and greenspace located in Augusta’s canal district.

“Or, we could just wait for some developer maybe eventually” to come along, Kwatinetz said. “If it were easy to do, a private developer would have done it already.”

The project, which will generate its own electricity, will return $5 in private dollars for every $1 in SPLOST, he said, in addition to new property taxes and sales taxes generated, for a total of $60 million in “private spend” induced after the ARC Project oversees some $87 million in development of the site, Kwatinetz said.

Also seeking funds Monday was the Development Authority of Richmond County, which needs about $3.8 million to complete an access road into Augusta Corporate Park, where the new Starbucks plant is located, and $850,000 to prepare land for a spec building, according to Executive Director Walter Sprouse.

Augusta Canal Authority Executive Director Dayton Sherrouse touted his agency’s ability to leverage SPLOST dollars to secure state and federal grant funding in several completed projects. The authority is seeking $5.15 million from SPLOST 7 to improve the city-owned canal, expecting the allocation will win the authority $20 million in additional funding.

Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority is seeking $5.6 million to oversee “Augusta Common Phase 2,” an expansion of the downtown greenspace to realign it with the James Brown statue in the Broad Street median and across Reynolds Street to the riverfront levee, DDA board chairman Cameron Nixon said.

DDA Executive Director Margaret Woodard said the agency’s other SPLOST request, $3 million for a downtown business incubator, would generate a $2 million federal grant and give new start-ups, even restaurants, “a ladder program or kiosk space” with affordable rent. “It’s very challenging to find small retail space” downtown, Woodard said.

Among the groups requesting the most in SPLOST funds, Greater Augusta Arts Council wants $16.4 million to complete a public arts master plan, develop studio space and implement a public arts program.

Arts Council Executive Director Brenda Durant detailed the possibilities in a series of slides showing statues and other public art adorning Augusta entry points, bus shelters, transfer stations and benches.

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corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 09:39 pm
8
6
THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND

THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS THROWN AWAY

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 02/24/14 - 11:05 pm
10
3
Who brought this carpetbagger to town?
Unpublished

It is obvious that this Kwatinetz guy does not have any plan whatsoever for The Mills but he wants $12 million more of our tax dollars. For what? Now he is saying "forget GRU"? So what is his backup plan? Who else is interested in The Mills since GRU is not? Any commissioner who votes to give this carpetbagger $12 million from SPLOST should be recalled. So what did he do with the $300,000 he already got? This guy is bad news. SPLOST will go down in flames if it includes any money going toward this guy.

corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 11:08 pm
7
4
"For more than a year, Mayor

"For more than a year, Mayor Deke Copenhaver and some commission members have pushed the idea of renovating the Sibley and King mills – a combined 1 million square feet of vacant real estate located on 2,000 acres of greenspace – into educational or housing space to support the consolidation of Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University."

As much as I despise Azziz, you have to give him credit- he wants nothing to do with this contaminated red-brick elephant.

The only problem is that Deke refuses to listen to the resounding "NO!"

corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 11:10 pm
5
4
"Or, we could just wait for

"Or, we could just wait for some developer maybe eventually” to come along, Kwatinetz said."

Regency Mall will reopen before some developer will take this mess. Nobody would be that foolish.

Cities are finding that refurbishing these old mills isn't quite as great as it once seemed- they are finding that they have all sorts of structural issues, and many renovated mills have turned out to be building disasters, they were just too far gone and should've never been restored.

Pops
7714
Points
Pops 02/24/14 - 11:42 pm
6
3
What in the world does the following mean???

"The project, which will generate its own electricity, will return $5 in private dollars for every $1 in SPLOST, he said, in addition to new property taxes and sales taxes generated, for a total of $60 million in “private spend” induced after the ARC Project oversees some $87 million in development of the site, Kwatinetz said."

It sounds like just double speak......

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 02/24/14 - 11:53 pm
7
2
They already Generate electricity
Unpublished

The Canal Authority owns the mills. They already sell electricity to Georgia Power. You do not need to throw $12 million into these mills to get electrical power out of it. I have never understood why the city does not harness the power from the mills for its own energy consumption. That would save taxpayers millions of dollars per year. This Kwatinetz guy sounds like a con artist. Do the commissioners have any accounting of how he has spent the money they have already given him? I would like to know who brought this carpetbagger to Augusta?

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 02:54 am
4
10
Moving into the future!!

The outlet mall, starbucks plant, augusta renewable energy, rockwood plant, medical commons, movie theater, cabelas, whole foods, etc shows Augusta is currently thriving and we need to start thinking bigger.. Every single project can't be related to either law enforcement or infrastructure. The infrastructure component is very important, but many areas inside Richmond County need something to jump start the growth. New roads and pretty medians can only do so much. The Diamond Lakes park will be responsible for producing more growth compared to the phase 1 of Windsor Spring rd(widening between Tobacco and Willis Foreman). The majority of expensive real estate and new home construction in South Augusta is within 5-10 minutes of the park.

The Augusta Canal should be given the $5 million if they can receive the $20 million in funding(if not $1-$2 million). The arts council should only get receive around $1-2 million, because were not building the performing arts center right now.. The DDA should only receive the money for incubators if they have 1-2 companies already signed up..

Corgimom.. The Sibley Mill was under contract before the Augusta Canal Authority recently purchased it, but the negotiations eventually collapsed.. Private developers would redevelop the property if the city helped with some of the cleanup.

Butterman... The $172 million Starbucks(site selection team) plant initially brought Mr. Kwatinetz here to Augusta and mayor Deke wanted him to lead the ARC project.. Mr. Kwatinetz is the one of the people responsible for the $172 million Starbucks and $20 million Augusta Renewable Energy facilities in South Augusta. The consultant firm was hired by Starbucks to find the perfect location. He's already familiar with the local economy and provides the outside perspective.

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 02:24 am
3
11
Three very important projects!!!

1. Mills Campus: The GRU master plan(the potential of the mills campus included) hasn't even been completed yet.. The Chancellor didn't have to include the Mills campus unless they were intrigued.. A private company will build a solar farm on the site and pay the city rent. The Mills Campus is located next to the Kroc Center, new Cookout restaurant, Medical District, CBD, Harrisburg, and the new grocery store/restaurants/green space.. The opportunity of urban renewal(mills, bus terminal, etc) and gentrification(Harrisburg) extends from the mills into the Harrisburg neighborhood.

2. The spec building is essential to providing the companies associated with the Cyber Command existing infrastructure. The new road will only help bring additional growth to the Augusta Corporate Park(Starbucks & Augusta Renewable Energy).

3. The Port Royal project could result in 500-800 new jobs coming downtown on the Riverwalk.. The extension of the common helps create one large urban footprint to allow for private development.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 02/25/14 - 02:35 am
10
3
countyman
Unpublished

My sources tell me the jobs for the Port Royal white elephant are existing call center jobs that are merely being shifted from one part of Richmond County to another.
On the mills. This Matthew Kwatinetz fellah has no plan and no clue. There is no mills campus plan. He is making this up as he goes along. GRU is not interested. If Kwatinetz was such an asset for Starbucks why isn't he working for them instead of mooching off the taxpayers of Augusta?

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 03:19 am
4
8
Medac and not regular call center jobs

The Port Royal project will create around 100(500-800 total) new jobs in Richmond County.. The company is already located in Richmond County and the rumors are pointing to Medac.. This is a huge win for the CSRA and downtown Augusta. The company is currently renting multiple offices in West Augusta and they've been looking to consolidate.
http://medac.com/

White elephant Port Royal? I don't understand what's the point of being negative even when discussing positive growth. How could anybody have a problem with private developers spending money in Augusta? The development is putting the Fort Discovery property back on the tax rolls. Do you realize the amount of new restaurants, retail, and residential developments that will follow behind 500-800 jobs?

The Port Royal project is suppose to include the following:
1. Class A office space
2. Art gallery on the Riverwalk
3. Office space for the DDA
4. 8k SQ FT for a new restaurant
5. Renovated theater
6. Office space for business incubators

Why did the chancellor include the possibility of the Mills Campus in the master plan currently underway if they weren't interested at all? How is Mr. Kwatinetz mooching off the taxpayers in Augusta? The taxpayers aren't paying for his salary and the $12 million is for the mills.. The citizens of Richmond County aren't the only people who shop in Augusta either.. Mr. Kwatinetz's consultant firm was hired by Starbucks and he already completed his job for them(plant under construction)..

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 03:34 am
2
8
Interesting

Butterman.. Do you live in Richmond County? The comment about the Port Royal being called a white elephant really stood out.. The naysayers who live outside RC are usually the most vocal about everything including PRIVATE developments. The outlet mall article is another example of the ridiculous amount of bias..

Why don't some people use their energy to help fix the local government instead of criticizing everything including positive news?

People need to understand that you can be watchful over the government and be proud of the existing growth in Augusta. Why criticize all the positive in the city simply because you disagree with the politics?

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 02/25/14 - 03:51 am
8
3
So far there has been nothing
Unpublished

So far there has been nothing private about this Mills Project (of which this article is about). It is very clear from this article that this Kwatinetz is taking Augusta for a ride and charging $12 million for it. His mills proposal seems to change everyday. All this time it was pitched as a campus for GRU. Now he is saying "Forget GRU!". Now he wants $12 million more but gives no specifics. Who pays this guy? If he is being paid by the city then every commissioner ought to resign tomorrow. There is nothing positive about some huckster riding into town making all sorts of false promises and then duping commissioners out of $millions of tax dollars.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 02/25/14 - 03:55 am
7
3
Also, how is it a positive to
Unpublished

Also, how is it a positive to simply move jobs from one part of the county to another and in exchange give generous tax breaks and subsidies thru the TAD4? This means Augusta is giving up tax revenue for jobs it already had to begin with. How stupid is that?

angedelune
223
Points
angedelune 02/25/14 - 08:04 am
4
9
just stop

countyman, don't bother

you can't tell these people anything. anytime someone tries to do something in this town you have nay-sayers ranting and raving about how "it'll never work" or "why are we spending money on that" without ever coming up with a plan of their own. You don't like the way they are designating SPLOST money? Then campaign and come up with your own ideas. This "I don't know what I want but i'm not going to offer any helpful advice" mentality is so frustrating and counter-productive. Augusta has been stagnant long enough and it's all due to troglodytes like the ones above who just want everything to stay that way.

Any renovation of the Sibley Mill district would be a great advantage to the city. Any renovation of ANYTHING would be a great advantage to the city. However, I have to read the tired old argument of "well what about the Regency Mall!?!?!" That piece is located in South Augusta, way far away from the growth of the city. No one wants to go there, and everytime someone suggests something for south augusta (IE: Augusta Speedway) they scream bloody murder.

I for one am very proud of the direction the city is taking. I see new stores and restaurants opening all around. New jobs are coming to the area en mass. There is an uptick of tourists coming to spend money OUTSIDE of The Masters. We are quickly getting away from the moniker of Disgusta, and it's about time. So I reiterate. Unless you want to come up with some of your own ideas and present them to the commissioners then keep your negative comments to yourself. Crawl back into your holes, and hide behind the safety of your keyboards where you can launch your ignorant diatribes, but find another soap-box for them besides this city. I for one have had it with your backwards mentality and inability to see a bright future ahead.

End Rant.

dsterling9
767
Points
dsterling9 02/25/14 - 08:37 am
7
1
MILL

Unless the Mill will be for the use and benefit of ALL ARC citizens no county funds should be used, loaned, given for this project. Additionally, no more downtown projects unless sufficient FREE parking is provided!

corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 02/25/14 - 08:45 am
6
4
Butterman, Countyman has only

Butterman, Countyman has only lived here a few years, he was not around for the Port Royal debacle, that's why he thinks it's such a great idea.

The rest of us know the history of it, and we know it's just throwing good money after bad.

corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 02/25/14 - 08:47 am
6
4
Corgimom.. The Sibley Mill

Corgimom.. The Sibley Mill was under contract before the Augusta Canal Authority recently purchased it, but the negotiations eventually collapsed.. Private developers would redevelop the property if the city helped with some of the cleanup.

I am very well aware of the history of these mills. They are a contaminated mess, millions have already been poured into them, and it brings new meaning to "sunk costs". The city DOESNT HAVE THE MONEY to clean them up, and they can't keep heaping these projects on taxpayers!

corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 02/25/14 - 08:49 am
5
4
"Maybe Nortonguy, Whole

"Maybe Nortonguy, Whole Augusta or Antione can help us out."

That was my laugh for the day!

seenitB4
85293
Points
seenitB4 02/25/14 - 09:36 am
3
2
That was funny!

"Maybe Nortonguy, Whole Augusta or Antione can help us out."

Where art thou.....where do you live....:)

internationallyunknown
4052
Points
internationallyunknown 02/25/14 - 10:23 am
4
2
South Augusta-wasting $-Regency mall

The (few)restaurants stay crowded.

A developed area (Regency Mall) would attract people from Hephzibah, Burke County, Wrens, etc.

South Augusta is LOOOONGGG overdue for quality entertainment and dining.

By not developing the area, Augusta is throwing away $$$....or are they???

Countyman, not this time.

internationallyunknown
4052
Points
internationallyunknown 02/25/14 - 10:25 am
0
1
I am sure the those mills are

I am sure the those mills are haunted with spirits and filled with mold.

If would be a waste to develop them....typical Augusta.

Only if Augusta had progressive leaders.

Why isn't the electricity being used here in Augusta???

internationallyunknown
4052
Points
internationallyunknown 02/25/14 - 10:27 am
1
1
Port Royal

O yes, the debacle!....and the beat goes in Augusta.

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 11:39 am
1
4
Hilarious

I obviously hit a nerve lol, because somebody felt the need to mention some of the different screen names... Do people like Lori Davis or Seenitb4 actually think I would use my real name when emailing them? I already knew many people weren't accustomed to my positive energy and only wanted to find out my identity. I see were the poster joined the AC a few weeks ago from today and the person is obviously from the crowd who believes everything is negative..

Why does the history of the Port Royal have to do with the current private development in 2014? Why does anybody have a problem with PRIVATE developers spending PRIVATE money? The Port Royal project will create NEW jobs and not simply move existing jobs... The Fort Discovery building is currently vacant and it's not a call center either coming to Port Royal..

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 02/25/14 - 11:46 am
3
1
Now it is becoming clearer
Unpublished

Countyman mentioned in a previous post that a contract fell through on the mills with a previous "private developer" and then the canal authority got the property. This is indeed true. The canal authority got the mills for $100,000. Quite a bargain when you consider the power they generate. Then Countyman made a very telling statement: that a private developer might be interested in coming back in to develop the mills if the city paid for cleanup. So I suppose that is what this $12 million is for? Well I can guarantee you it will cost a lot more than that. Now I think it becoming clear. The taxpayers put up all the money to clean up the mills and then a certain well-connected local developer sweeps in and gets them for pennies of the dollar once GRU says they are absolutely not interested. It's not hard to figure this out since this well-connected developer has been buying up lots of property in that area. It also explains why Deke has been pressing this project so hard. Thanks countyman for clearing things up for us.

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 11:59 am
1
3
Leave the naysayers behind!!

Only the naysayers would have a problem with a PRIVATE developer investing PRIVATE money downtown.. How can anybody take you seriously if you don't even want to acknowledge the positives?

''So far there has been nothing private about this Mills Project (of which this article is about).''

False... The private company Panisolar will build a solar farm and pay rent to the city.. The energy from the solar panels will be sold to Georgia Power.

''Also, how is it a positive to simply move jobs from one part of the county to another and in exchange give generous tax breaks and subsidies thru the TAD4?''

The Port Royal Project will create around 100 new jobs... This is a private company and they have the ability to leave Augusta instead of consolidating here.. How is putting a empty property back on the tax rolls, creating new jobs, etc not a positive?

''Butterman, Countyman has only lived here a few years, he was not around for the Port Royal debacle, that's why he thinks it's such a great idea.''

I've lived in both Richmond/Columbia and have been more than a few years.. The following reasons are why I think it's such a great idea..
1. Private investors
2. New jobs
3. Businesses and residential developments will follow behind
4. The Fort Discovery building is currently empty and providing nothing for the local tax payers..
5. The increased daily foot traffic downtown and on the Riverwalk

''I am very well aware of the history of these mills. They are a contaminated mess, millions have already been poured into them, and it brings new meaning to "sunk costs". The city DOESNT HAVE THE MONEY to clean them up, and they can't keep heaping these projects on taxpayers!''

If you were very well aware, then why did you say no private developer would be interested. A private developer was about to purchase the mills a few years ago..

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 12:04 pm
1
4
Butch??

Is Butch Palmer on here posting??

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 02/25/14 - 12:08 pm
3
1
Levity
Unpublished

"Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it."
----George Santayana

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
----Albert Einstein

seenitB4
85293
Points
seenitB4 02/25/14 - 12:58 pm
2
0
ctyman

I don't care what your name is...or where you work....never tried to find out through emails either..

But just use some common sense about growth-building-expansion of any kind...it takes money to do these projects.....when some have legit needs in their neighborhood they want those needs met first....now I don't blame them one bit...surely you can understand that..

Btw--the project in Roswell is going full steam ahead--new condos--new shopping area---& it is booming now....sometimes growth is a great thing--I agree with you on that.

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/25/14 - 01:41 pm
1
3
Augusta

Seenitb4.. I would agree with you if the comment actually described the current situation.

The people complaining on this article don't even live in Richmond County.. They don't have any legit problems in the neighborhood and many people simply don't want Augusta to move forward.

I don't have any problem with the comments from Dichotomy, Little Lamb, Nocnoc, etc because they are usually debating real perceived issues and not complaining about private developers spending their own money.

nocnoc
41129
Points
nocnoc 02/25/14 - 01:55 pm
3
0
Question

Who owns the surrounding properties, that stand to make a $Mint$ if this happens?

Guess I'll have to head over to ARC GIS and GA SOS sites to do some deep background poking around.

Somehow I got a felling this is going to have more layers that a Vidalia Onion.

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