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Augusta mills campus proposal dropped

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 9:02 PM
Last updated Friday, Aug 15, 2014 1:48 AM
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The Augusta Regional Collabo­ra­tion Project is officially backing down from a proposal to incorporate two shuttered textile mills into the campus of Georgia Re­gents Univer­sity.

Concept art of the proposed Mills Campus of Georgia Regents University.   SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Concept art of the proposed Mills Campus of Georgia Regents University.

The project, founded by Mayor Deke Copenhaver, spent more than $300,000 in city funds to develop the proposal. It blames its change of direction on voters’ defeat of a sales tax package in May.

“Without SPLOST VII, it could no longer recommend that Georgia Re­gents University plan major campus expansion for the (mills) district at this time,” project director Matt Kwatinetz said in a news release issued Thursday evening.

Had voters approved the tax plan, the project was to receive $5.25 million from revenue bonds issued in conjunction with the tax package to acquire nearby land and create a campus contiguous with GRU’s downtown facilities.

A GRU planning document specified that the university would abandon its University Village apartments, demolish 220 units of medical student housing and would need 1,200 beds of new housing by 2018. The project intended to respond to GRU’s request for proposals to provide half of those beds at the mills site.

University officials, still working through a master planning process for the consolidated university, never
openly showed interest in the “mills
campus” proposal, and a study ranked campus expansion around the mills the lowest of three options.
Kwatinetz and Copenhaver
aren’t giving up on redevelopment in and around the historic Sibley and
King mills, located in Harrisburg.

“ARC will continue to advocate for the mills as one of the most promising development opportunities in Richmond County,” Kwatinetz said.

Copenhaver said that with “all the economic game-changers now happening in Augusta, I remain confident in the eventual development of the mills district.”

Kwatinetz said any GRU expansion downtown was positive, and that the project intends to continue its other focus on a downtown campus, now termed the “culture and innovation district.”

The project has spent city funds on renovations of the vacant chamber of commerce building in the Broad Street median. A recent request for tenants generated more than an dozen applications, and a first round of names selected will be released soon, Kwatinetz said.

The Greater Augusta Arts Coun­cil announced Thursday that it would hold monthly workshops, art shows and other events at the site.

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Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/14/14 - 08:52 pm
13
2
$300K
Unpublished

Here folks is exactly the kind of wasteful spending that is causing our property tax bills to go up. $300k for what? More fancy watercolor drawings that will sit up on a shelf gathering dust. Just like the numerous "masterplans" commissioners spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on.. and for what? the Mills campus proposal never made sense. GRU was never on board from the beginning. Why did commissioners hand this Kwatinetz guy $300,000 in tax money on this pipe dream without any commitment from GRU? I would like to know which commissioners voted to give him this money? Then he comes along and wanted $5.25 million more in SPLOST money. Thank God voters said NO to that. This thing had money pit written all over it. I guess we should be glad we only got taken for $300k. It's time we rode this kwatinetz character out of town on a rail!

Lori Davis
1006
Points
Lori Davis 08/14/14 - 08:35 pm
12
2
We knew Kwatinetz was a

We knew Kwatinetz was a Charlatan.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/14/14 - 08:40 pm
10
1
This Says it All
Unpublished

**"But university officials, still working through a master planning process for the consolidated university, never openly showed any interest in the “mills campus” proposal and a study ranked campus expansion around the mills lowest of three options."**
and commissioners still handed over $300,000 of tax dollars to Kwatinetz for this charade and a majority of them were content to hand him over $5.25 million in SPLOST dollars. Unfreakinbelievable!

badmoon426
1187
Points
badmoon426 08/14/14 - 08:47 pm
8
1
It Took This...

...long to announce this boondoggle was dead after the SPLOST VII vote.

Yes, this proposal had pork laden public works project posted all over it probably even surpassing the white elephant Marriott TEE Center and Parking Deck Projects.

Gage Creed
19453
Points
Gage Creed 08/14/14 - 08:51 pm
12
1
Oh MY!

There must be some mistake? No MEDAC in the Port Royal Building? No Mills Campus? Is the Jazz Club kaputt too?

Quick norton.. tell 'em about the HEI and Sprint Metrol Market....

badmoon426
1187
Points
badmoon426 08/14/14 - 08:54 pm
8
1
ARC...

...is it a privately funded enterprise or publicly funded enterprise?

I think it would be nice if the AC really determined if the ARC is funded at all by taxpayer dollars. If it is then it should receive the same amount of oversight as any public agency or commission.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/14/14 - 09:23 pm
9
1
Susan McCord...
Unpublished

Great reporting as usual. But can you do a followup and tell us exactly how much total tax money to date has been spent on this Augusta regional Collaborative Project? Which commissioners voted to give Mr. Kwatinetz $300,000 for this Mills boondoggle? And who exactly pays Mr. Kwatinetz's salary? We have heard conflicting things. Taxpayers have a right to know how much of their money has been wasted on this guy.

badmoon426
1187
Points
badmoon426 08/14/14 - 09:01 pm
6
1
I Guess Any Future Development...

...of 'the Mills' will not be a taxpayer funded option but a private sector funded affair. As we all know without substantial government outlays there is no chance it will ever get privately funded by any of our local wheelers and dealers.

badmoon426
1187
Points
badmoon426 08/14/14 - 09:07 pm
10
1
Butterman Has A Very Valid...

...point.

As a citizen I would like to know about the ARC. If it is publicly funded at any levels there should be accountability and transparency.

dichotomy
37619
Points
dichotomy 08/14/14 - 10:08 pm
16
2
Most bored children throw mud

Most bored children throw mud balls at a wall to see if it will stick.

Our commissioners and mayor Deke throw spitballs made out of our money at imaginary walls to see if it they will stick.

Just like this $300,000....they constantly spend $hundreds of thousands....$millions of dollars cumulative on studies, consultants, and plans that they know they have no intention of following or doing.

They are, in a word, PATHETIC....and they have NO idea of what to do or how to go about it.....but they keep throwing money spit balls at the wall to see of SOMETHING.....ANYTHING.....will stick. It never does. They are always shooting for the pie in the sky projects while they bankrupt us and can't even provide basic services without charging us EXTRA for EVERYTHING.

corgimom
38742
Points
corgimom 08/14/14 - 10:08 pm
12
2
It was never a viable project

It was never a viable project from the GRU point of view, this was just Deke's and Matt's little boondoggle, to justify Matt's salary.

And the IDIOT commissioners, who couldn't govern my 3 dogs if they tried, went right along with it.

There is no study, no project, no pie-in-the-sky birdbrained idea that they won't throw good money at.

And then they vote for a tax increase.

This is obscene.

corgimom
38742
Points
corgimom 08/14/14 - 10:14 pm
11
1
The ARC Project has a payroll

The ARC Project has a payroll of ONE, as far as I can find.

That would be Matt Kwatinetz, the "director".

In the old days, they would tar and feather somebody like this and run them out of town on a rail.

Snake oil salesman.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/14/14 - 10:27 pm
6
1
Corgi
Unpublished

.. you said it. I hope the commissioners who voted for this boondoggle will man up and admit they made a very expensive mistake and cut Mr. Kwatinetz off for good. It is time for the city to disassociate itself with this nebulous Collaborative Project and stop giving it money.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/14/14 - 10:37 pm
7
1
FACTS
Unpublished

Maybe you know who will come on here soon and enlighten us all with some of his FACTS

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/14/14 - 11:53 pm
5
1
Hey Commissioners
Unpublished

I used to paint and have some fabulous watercolors I did of various sites around Augusta. Can I sell them to you for $300,000? That seems to be the going rate for watercolor paintings in Augusta now. I think you will really dig my painting of dogs playing poker at the Discoteque Lounge.. yes the Snake Lady makes an appearance.. but she will cost you extra.

Young Fred
21146
Points
Young Fred 08/15/14 - 12:08 am
7
2
But

but...I heard it be purrty. To look at that is. Purrty, 5.25mill worth of purrty

You do realize that the powers that be consider the naysayers "short sighted" and incapable of long vision? You know what I mean...If you don't agree you're incapable of the grand vision.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 08/15/14 - 03:37 am
8
3
The Commenters Told Ya

The commenters have been accurate for months concerning the ARC and Kwatinetz. The truth is our validation. The problem is the ARC continues to get county money and pay Kwatinetz to bike ride with Deke.

Kwatinetz rationalizes he still has people wanting to use the jazz café as if that makes everything okay. He thinks influential people will meet there, drink a little, listen to music and create a pie in the sky skyscraper on Broad Street. I have a feeling you will see few people in there who are not trying to get a free drink while waiting for the shelter to open.

nocnoc
49636
Points
nocnoc 08/15/14 - 04:22 am
8
2
Augusta Mills

It seems the Goats Ate it.

soapy_725
44144
Points
soapy_725 08/15/14 - 06:03 am
0
0
Copenhaver-Boardman-Allen Construction, LLC. LOL
Unpublished

Kroc, more krok, 100's of millions of krok

TrulyWorried
16708
Points
TrulyWorried 08/15/14 - 06:16 am
5
1
More money down the drain

Why don't we give the Commissioners Monopoly money and they can play with that to their hearts' content and us taxpayers get relief? Another more than unbelievable waste of money!!

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 08/15/14 - 06:55 am
5
1
Kon Man

Yes, we've got trouble
Right here in River City,
And it starts with K
and it rhymes with, “Hey,”
and that stands for FOOL.

nocnoc
49636
Points
nocnoc 08/15/14 - 07:00 am
6
2
I would invite everyone to make use of the AUGUSTA GIS

website and look for example, at land ownership around the King Mill.

Then go to the GA Sec Of State Website and see who owns the companies that own the surrounding areas.

Last year when all the HYPE started, one street next to the King Mill was own by just 1 company.

nocnoc
49636
Points
nocnoc 08/15/14 - 07:05 am
6
2
May it is time for a Financial Forensics Audit

If for no other reason than to see how much $$$$$ waste there is and how much $$$$$ waste there has been.

Any of the recent ARC Lawsuits alone would have covered the fee.

-----
Well I am off to Wally World and Academy Sports and Gander mountain to buy some more supplies ☺.....

Proud2Serve
466
Points
Proud2Serve 08/15/14 - 08:02 am
6
1
A Challenge

I challenge the Augusta Chronicle to do some investigative reporting and follow the money trail. I would be willing to wager that the community would be surprised to see who would stand to benefit from that land being developed.

TrulyWorried
16708
Points
TrulyWorried 08/15/14 - 08:07 am
4
1
nocnoc and audit

Wonderful idea - wonder how that could be done? Would the taxpayers have to demand the audit? Somebody should get the ball rolling. Bet there are plenty of $$$ unaccounted for or floating in space

bdouglas
5782
Points
bdouglas 08/15/14 - 08:36 am
7
1
Matty K's ARC is looking for

Matty K's ARC is looking for a Public Affairs Manager, according to the website. It's part time. Sounds like the perfect job for the resident Richmond Co cheerleader. And part time leaves plenty of time to trawl the building/land records websites, census reports and construct brilliantly copied and pasted off-topic rebuttals.

grinder48
2059
Points
grinder48 08/15/14 - 08:53 am
0
0
SPLOST VII
Unpublished

This shows EXACTLY why SPLOST VII needed to be defeated. Commisioners and Mayor-Elect Davis, know this, remember this, keep in the fore front of your minds going forward: the ARC taxpayers are absolutely sick and tired of all the waste, fraud, and abuse. Your constituents are demanding openness and accountability.

reader54
329
Points
reader54 08/15/14 - 08:56 am
4
1
owners

who owns those mills? i'm across the river but enjoy the entertainment. I thought the Boardmans owned them, at one time.

Little Lamb
49247
Points
Little Lamb 08/15/14 - 09:03 am
2
3
Retro

Dorms are so yesterday, especially for a university sitting in a city the size of Augusta. Today's college students want to live in an apartment or a home, not a dorm. Grooo needs to begin a plan to divest itself of its dorms and let the students fend for themselves regarding housing.

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/15/14 - 09:22 am
2
1
LL 7:55a post!
Unpublished

LL you win comment of the week for that. I laughed so hard, coffee spewed out my nose. That hurt.

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