New authority to be discussed

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Downtown Development Authority members, miffed about being passed over in the building of the TEE center and inner city revitalization, met Monday with City Administrator Fred Russell, who told them it was business, not personal.

Mr. Russell told them the city's legal and financial advisers believe forming a new Urban Redevelopment Authority will be the most efficient way to issue the $35 million in bonds needed to build the Reynolds Street trade, exhibit and event center and to stimulate redeveloping the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods, part of a plan Mr. Russell unveiled to commissioners last week.

He met Monday with Downtown Development Authority Chairman Steven Kendrick, Executive Director Margaret Woodard, authority attorney Byrd Warlick and board members Cameron Nixon and Julian Roberts, according to Ms. Woodard.

Mr. Kendrick said the possibility of a "sunset clause," which would disband the new authority after its work is done so it doesn't compete with the DDA, was mentioned Monday.

"We had a pretty good explanation of what the rationale was," Mr. Kendrick said. "We seemed to be pretty much satisfied, from what I gathered."

Mr. Russell said the five-member redevelopment authority would focus solely on the projects, issuing the bonds, then having two subcommittees, one for the TEE center, another for Laney-Walker and Bethlehem.

"I'm looking for something that ties those two projects together with a focus on getting them done," Mr. Russell said. "DDA has a lot on its plate."

Whether Mr. Russell moves forward with the plan will depend on what commissioners tell him at today's meeting. It's on the agenda, and interviews with commissioners indicated they're likely to pose some pointed questions.

The TEE center and the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods have been intertwined since 2007, when the commission approved the TEE center's site and operating agreement under a compromise that set aside $750,000 a year from a $1 hotel fee for inner city revitalization.

The plan Mr. Russell presented last week involves a total of $92.5 million in projects, including a $17 million parking deck and a $38 million convention center. When voters approved the event center in 2005, the price was $20 million. Of the $35 million in bonds, $9 million would be to kick-start neighborhood redevelopment, with $2 million of that debt being issued through the city's new tax allocation district.

Betty Beard, whose district includes downtown and who helped broker the 2007 compromise, said she's concerned about the city's ability to pay back the bonds. She said this might not be the best time to move forward with the TEE center, and had the vote happened now it wouldn't have been the right time to approve revitalizing the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

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Brad Owens
3676
Points
Brad Owens 05/05/09 - 04:51 am
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The DDA has been the largest

The DDA has been the largest single waste of tax payer dollars in dowtown Augusta in the past ten years. They have received and sqandered over 2million dollars and what have we gotten for it? The reason they are being 'by-passed' is because they deserve to be by-passed. The DDA was created by the State of Georgia as a way to issue bonds to build parking decks, don't believe me? Go ask Penn Mayson who was on the city council and helped write the bill for the Georgia Municipal Association. He was there when it was signed into law. Mr. Mayson also helped form Main Street Augusta which was merged with the DDA by Randy Oliver. Before that, the DDA did NOT have a director, only MainStreet did. Now the DDA has doena way with MainStreet and keep its 'non-profit' status while doing away with all the good thyings MainStreet did. The DDA is a tool for big developers to get interest free loans and fee free grants while NOTHING substantial is being done to fix broken things downtown. Kendrick should not be allowed to serve while he is Tax Commissioner anyway (doesn't matter I guess since the DDA does nothing anyway). All ythis is about is the DDA getting the handling fees for all these bonds.

Brad Owens
3676
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Brad Owens 05/05/09 - 04:56 am
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By the way, Byrd Warlick

By the way, Byrd Warlick would get money for the issuance bonds as the board attorney. This is all about money. They should defund the DDA and save thye tax money for something worth spending them on.

Little Lamb
40311
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Little Lamb 05/05/09 - 07:49 am
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0

It would be a merciful relief

It would be a merciful relief to taxpayers if they would decide to scrap plans to build the mega-convention center, affectionately known as TEE. I would rather see some paving done with the money. That would not require a new political authority to be created.

justus4
93
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justus4 05/05/09 - 08:28 am
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Told ya... This ia all about

Unpublished

Told ya... This ia all about control and not allowing minority individuals to be involved with high-value decision making. "We've" seen this trick before and should have predicted it based the amount of dollars projected. Another example of poor minority leadership and teambuilding skills when they are needed. This was well-planned and some idiots don't even reconize whats happening, and the DDA will end up like the Human Resources Department; gone. They say "they've got alot on their plate" Ha! Well, keep believing what "they" tell U and see what U get.

Brad Owens
3676
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Brad Owens 05/05/09 - 01:50 pm
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By the way, Julian Roberts

By the way, Julian Roberts was one of the owners of the White's Building and we see where the much touted project there has led...

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 05/05/09 - 05:18 pm
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Brad, the government takeover

Brad, the government takeover of the banks killed the White's Building project. Maybe when Hugo Obama gets done nationalizing enough businesses the project will start back up. Sieg heil.

Brad Owens
3676
Points
Brad Owens 05/05/09 - 07:03 pm
0
0

PT, don't believe the greedy

PT, don't believe the greedy developers on that, they were in trouble efore the FDIC stepped in.

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