Developer to bid if golf gardens land goes to auction

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Jacoby Group, one of the partners in the proposed development of a $38.7 million downtown baseball stadium, said Monday that if the former Golf Hall of Fame property goes up for auction, the company will make a bid.

"It is Jacoby Development's intent to put an option on the property," Senior Vice President for Development Scott Condra said in a statement issued through spokesman Howard Lalli.

After some tweaking by the governor's office, a bill expected to clear the state House and Senate today will see the property -- 16 acres of prime riverfront real estate -- put up for bid rather than sold or deeded to the city.

With a minimum price of $2.8 million to pay off the state's remaining bond debt, and given the lean economy and the city's ongoing budget difficulties, Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he doesn't favor the city bidding.

For what he's been pushing -- a multiuse minor league field -- the city wouldn't have to bid if Jacoby can get the land.

The company, headed by Jim Jacoby, developed Midtown Atlanta's Atlantic Station and was on board in a stadium proposal submitted to the state in 2008, along with the city and Ripken Baseball.

But with a bidding process can come surprises, and there's no guarantee some heretofore unknown interested party won't walk away with one of the last slices of available downtown property along the Savannah River levee. Copenhaver said he's resigned to that, and he supports the language in the bill, even if it means no new home for the Augusta GreenJackets.

"I have said all along that the stadium was a plan, and if anybody has a plan B, I'm open to it," the mayor said. "The property is doing no good to the citizens of Augusta sitting empty, growing weeds and generating no revenue."

The situation illustrates how the legislation, introduced by Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Gracewood, gets the golf gardens property out of deadlock, but not entirely out of limbo. Along with the question of ultimate ownership, there remains the question of who will maintain the property during the height of the growing season.

The bill puts it in the care of the State Properties Commission, which State Property Officer Steve Stancil said lacks the funds or manpower to do regular grounds maintenance.

Once passed, the governor has 40 days to sign the bill. Even if the two- to three-week bidding process happens quickly thereafter, the property can't officially be turned over to a new owner until the Legislature approves the transfer in the 2011 session, a year away, Stancil said.

Davis' first version of Senate Bill 449 would have had the state sell the land to the city for $1, something his Senate predecessor, Ed Tarver, tried in vain to accomplish in last year's session.

The bill got changed on the Senate floor to have Augusta buy it for the market value or pay off the state's outstanding $2.8 million debt.

It went through further amendments in the House, with the Economic Development & Tourism Committee requiring that the land be sold at a competitive bid for no less than the fair-market value or the debt amount. (Not addressed was the $6 million in sales tax funds the city invested in the property.)

Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, said the governor's office worked with House committee member Barbara Sims, R-Augusta, and Davis and Copenhaver, in pushing for the competitive bid stipulation.

Perdue's attorneys were concerned about violating the state constitution's gratuities clause, which forbids giving away public assets without compensation, Brantley said. Because the land has been sitting empty for so long, it would be difficult to set a fair market value, and a single-seller deal could be challenged as unconstitutional, he said.

"The bid process, in and of itself, will set the value of it," Brantley said.

Davis' bill also disbands the Golf Hall of Fame, which let the property go to seed after its budget was gutted in 2007, and puts the six bronze golf legend statues in the city's possession.

"I haven't heard much chatter about it, but I'd say it has a good chance," said House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Alpharetta, the second-highest-ranking member of the House.

Augusta's delegation chairman, Democratic Rep. Quincy Murphy, said he's heard of no organized efforts to derail it.

That being the case, city commissioners, most of whom are opposed to or undecided on the stadium proposal, are mixed in their positions on submitting a bid.

Joe Bowles said he has no desire to do so, that the land should be in private hands so it can go back on the tax rolls. Jerry Brigham said he'd support paying $2.8 million for it, but not much more than that.

Were there six votes for submitting an offer, City Administrator Fred Russell said the money could be taken out of the reserve fund, which is about $28 million.

As for other bidders stepping forward, certified commercial and investment real estate expert David C. Penix, the owner of David C. Penix & Associates, said there has been loose talk around town about developing high-end residential units, incorporating restaurant and retail space, for medical professionals.

But with a buyer having to pony up at least $2.8 million -- a steep price of more than $173,000 per acre -- he doubts many developers in the region can muster that kind of backing in this financial climate, especially given the way the Watermark development went belly up a little ways down river.

"To be honest with you, there's no cash out swinging around in the marketplace right now," he said.

Perdue, appearing in Augusta for a bridge dedication Monday, said he still believes the stadium would be a good use for the property, but what happens now is up to Augusta's community. As chairman of the State Properties Commission, he said, he wanted to make sure the sale was fair and transparent.

"I think it's a great piece of property," the governor said. "And I think at some point in time, even in this economy, it could sell for a good value."

Morris News Service reporter Walter Jones and Staff Writer Susan McCord contributed to this article.

Halls Struggle

The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame will be no more under a measure expected to clear the state House and Senate today.

Even before the current budget crisis, the Legislature had begun spinning off or closing most of its halls of fame and museums. None have lived up to their original projections of visitors and revenue.

Macon legislators are pushing a bill allowing that city to raise its hotel-motel tax so it can take over funding of the Music Hall of Fame and Sports Hall of Fame before state money runs out.

State taxpayers shouldn't be funding the halls of fame, said Rep. Burke Day, R-Tybee Island.

"I've always believed that these halls of fame ... are too finely attached to the teats of the state," he said. "I've always believed they should be self-supporting."

 -- Morris News Service

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Frank I
1208
Points
Frank I 04/27/10 - 01:35 am
0
0
batter UP!! so there's a

batter UP!! so there's a private company willing to put up for the mixed use stadium.. where can the city lose.. I mean honestly, the state put up $2.8 mil for the property, but the city foot $6 mil for subsidizing the operation of the G&G.. seems to me the state is $3.2 mil upside down for the property and now they have a private company willing to bid for "fair market value" of the property? who's gonna lose?

mable8
2
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mable8 04/27/10 - 03:53 am
0
0
Why not open the land for

Why not open the land for public use rather than putting in a stadium people won't use anyway. As it is, tickets to events like this are too expensive and average workers cannot afford it.

Riverman1
110910
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Riverman1 04/27/10 - 04:34 am
0
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Even though a private group

Even though a private group may buy the land, the city is still going to have to foot the bill for the stadium if one is built there. Mable8, I reckon we don't have much say in what happens to the land if a private group buys it.

fdn315
2
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fdn315 04/27/10 - 04:53 am
0
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I like both ideas Lease the

I like both ideas Lease the area for public use in the mean time until the auction or sale goes through. A stadium on the river would be a great way to rejuvenate and help developments downtown with emphasis on businesses in the area. With its proximity to the Marriott it'd be a great attraction for baseball tournaments and classics for teams to travel in and be able to walk the river to the games...

deekster
24
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deekster 04/27/10 - 05:14 am
0
0
We used to have many

We used to have many "softball tournaments" at Fleming Field. What happened? We used to have adult baseball and softball all over the county. What happened? And speaking of "picking up dog poop" in Dysfunction Junction. Can I hear an All Abooooard for another "big load of poop" dumped on the ARC taxpayers. There "ain't enough zip lock bags" for this load. Taxpayer are going topay to have the "Deke Coperhaver -Boardman Stadium and Multi Use Center" built on the river if it "hair lips hell". The "man" must have "his memorial". Not just an "overpass named for the little king". Newman has the tennis center. McIntire has his cell block. Devaney has the Riverwalk. Boob Young-Fulcher donated his rocker to Brigham Young.

Brad Owens
5223
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Brad Owens 04/27/10 - 07:02 am
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This is better than the tax

This is better than the tax payer picking up the entire tab. Notice that we as a county put in $6,000,000.00 in tax monies and what do we get for it? Nada.

If I had the money I would buy it and turn it into a public park with frisbee golf, a dog park, and walking trails.

But then again, I ain't no Boardman...

andnowfor
0
Points
andnowfor 04/27/10 - 07:59 am
0
0
Right on Brad, you said the

Right on Brad, you said the two magic words, DOG PARK! This city has got to stop trying to copy every other city in the Southeast and start to set itself apart. Dogs are huge, Frisbee golf is growing; these two things would attract younger people to the area year round while a stadium would sit dormant at least six to eight months a year. People would drive out of their way to stop at a world class dog park, come on Augusta…take a chance and dream big.

Frank I
1208
Points
Frank I 04/27/10 - 08:30 am
0
0
do I get to bring my snake to

do I get to bring my snake to the "dog park"? otherwise it'd be useless to me.. watch out for you chihuahuas...

bettyboop
8
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bettyboop 04/27/10 - 10:33 am
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0
Prime river front property

Prime river front property for a dog park? Small minds.

Rob Pavey
560
Points
Rob Pavey 04/27/10 - 11:02 am
0
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The sale should be

The sale should be interesting. It only takes two people to make an auction.

sjgraci
2
Points
sjgraci 04/27/10 - 11:02 am
0
0
Average workers can't afford

Average workers can't afford a $7 ticket to a minor league baseball game? Give me a break. Build the stadium Downtown! And put with it condos, shops, and restaurants like the investor has done with Atlantic Station. This is the right move and it appears the right backers are finally behind something in Downtown Augusta.

themaninthemirror
0
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themaninthemirror 04/27/10 - 11:34 am
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Augusta would not support an

Augusta would not support an undertaking such as Atlantic Station. While sitting in Fox Sports Grill eating a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich,( the only reason I mention the sandwich is that is the hottest buffalo chicken I have ever eaten.) I looked out at the surrounding stores in the area, and wondered how Augusta would look with such an attraction downtown. But the stores were high end, and not the kind that would receive downtown Augusta support.

countyman
22770
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countyman 04/27/10 - 11:39 am
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A dog park opened December

A dog park opened December 2008.

The 1.5-acre Bark Park is split into two areas: one for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds and the other for dogs weighing more than 30 pounds.

Construction of the dog park began the week after Thanksgiving and was completed the week before Christmas. It opened Dec. 22, and will have an official ribbon-cutting Saturday.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2009/01/14/met_507588.shtml

countyman
22770
Points
countyman 04/27/10 - 11:54 am
0
0
The stores/restaurants aren't

The stores/restaurants aren't going to be exactly the same. Atlanta is a metro of 5 million compared to Augusta a metro of 550k. But Augusta will get several new stores/restaurants not presently in the area. A huge boost in tax revenue for all of the CSRA.

Atlantic Station doesn't have a baseball stadium attached to it. The first three Greenjackets game had a total of 16,000 people.

grinder48
2257
Points
grinder48 04/27/10 - 11:54 am
0
0
countyman, my dog weighs
Unpublished

countyman, my dog weighs exactly 30 lbs, so he can't go to the park?

countyman
22770
Points
countyman 04/27/10 - 12:57 pm
0
0
Grinder48 your dog is fine..

Grinder48 your dog is fine..

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 04/27/10 - 02:16 pm
0
0
If a private developer wants

If a private developer wants to come in and pay fair market value for the land, and then develop it with his own money and get it on the tax rolls and hopefully adding something attractive to the downtown area in the process.. then I say that's great. I'm not sure high end condos will work in that area.. atleast not now. Rememeber what happened with the Watermark.

Brad Owens
5223
Points
Brad Owens 04/27/10 - 03:22 pm
0
0
Great news about the dog

Great news about the dog park, Betty, you must be kidding about dog parks being small minded.

I supported the stadium but not now that TEE has so much of our taxes tied up for so long downtown that this would also tie up anothe huge chunck of cash for many years.

Do we want massive debts owed in only a small section?

Think about the worst case and plan on that, not the best case which NEVER happens.

Brad

countyman
22770
Points
countyman 04/27/10 - 03:47 pm
0
0
The economy is much better

The economy is much better than the time around the watermark. They didn't start construction before the economy tanked.

Augusta unemployment 9.2%, national 9.7%, georgia 10.6%

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 04/27/10 - 03:57 pm
0
0
actually high end apartments

actually high end apartments would be an easier sell... with a plan for a condo conversion later down the road.

Riverman1
110910
Points
Riverman1 04/27/10 - 05:09 pm
0
0
Oh, I'm sure this has all

Oh, I'm sure this has all been worked out without the public being invited, but if he buys the land, who is going to own the stadium if the county pays the $35 million to build it? How do they work that out?

jb1234
0
Points
jb1234 04/27/10 - 05:14 pm
0
0
who is going to own the

who is going to own the stadium if the county pays the $35 million to build it? How do they work that out?
_________________

The city will have to pay monthly rent to occupy the land, duh! :)

Riverman1
110910
Points
Riverman1 04/27/10 - 05:21 pm
0
0
Are they going to evict the

Are they going to evict the stadium if the city stops paying? LOL

Riverman1
110910
Points
Riverman1 04/27/10 - 05:30 pm
0
0
But seriously, this is going

But seriously, this is going to cost the city a lot of money at a time when we just put out $100 million for the TEE and Laney Walker improvements. We were told last year that Ft. Discovery was going to be sold (still waiting for that) so it couldn't be used for a TEE.

Now hints are being dropped that our TEE is going to be too small. Time for me to do a duh on that one much as I preached it was too small. So now when the TEE opens in two years the push to spend another $20 million on it has already started.

I possibly could go along with the stadium if the money were there because I do believe it will be utilized to the max and could change the area, but the TEE is nothing but a waste of money and we are now committed to it. The TEE will never make anywhere near what the proponents are saying. The next battle will be over enlarging it even though that will only be throwing good money after bad.

countyman
22770
Points
countyman 04/27/10 - 06:38 pm
0
0
Laney Walker is a win/win for

Laney Walker is a win/win for everybody. Lower crime rate in LW, new tax base, higher quality of life, etc. All you need is a couple of middle class/upper middle class families. To start the trend of sending their kids to Laney. The school graduation rate jumps to the high 80's. I've seen it taken place in many areas. Richmond county taxpayers voted for the Tee Center and the Laney Walker/Bethlehem project. The Tee Center starts construction in June. Two hotels(Hyatt Place & Holiday Inn Express) are already coming downtown. Imagine how many more new hotels when it opens up.

The Laney Walker project will bring millions of tax revenue into the city.... We spend $10 million to buy Gilbert Manor. But a $112 school of dentistry is under construction. And over $200 million for a school of medicine and educational commons.

corgimom
46744
Points
corgimom 04/27/10 - 07:15 pm
0
0
"The economy is much better

"The economy is much better than the time around the watermark. They didn't start construction before the economy tanked.

Augusta unemployment 9.2%, national 9.7%, georgia 10.6%"

The Corgimom is stunned, and that doesn't happen too often. We are in the biggest recession (ie Depression) in 75 years, there's no financing to be had, another wave of foreclosures are coming, unemployment is running out for people, and "The economy is much better"???

The other day there was a big long story in the Charlotte Observer about an Electrolux employee living in Martinez that can't- CAN"T- sell a 5 bedroom house in Martinez, and needs to move to Charlotte- and there are no buyers to be had.

You betcha, Augusta is gonna be a boom town. You betcha.

corgimom
46744
Points
corgimom 04/27/10 - 07:19 pm
0
0
"All you need is a couple of

"All you need is a couple of middle class/upper middle class families. To start the trend of sending their kids to Laney."

Better hurry up, hope it happens before the state of Georgia comes in. I cannot fathom any middle class or upper class family sending their child to a high school that is in the bottom 5% of all Georgia high schools.

2 families would make the graduation rate jump to the high 80's??? "I've seen it taken place in many areas." Hey Countyman, just what areas would that be? Please name some. And please name some that have achieved that since NCLB.

stephr721
212
Points
stephr721 04/27/10 - 07:59 pm
0
0
Not a huge fan of the stadium

Not a huge fan of the stadium idea. That part of downtown Augusta has already been revitalized, and a stadium wouldn't add much value, just more traffic. There are plenty of other areas around downtown Augusta that are prime for the revitalization (or, honestly, gentrification) that a stadium would spur.

My boyfriend and I are (sorta) young DINKs that relocated here in March because of the work at Plant Vogtle and VC Summer. Augusta has turned out to be ideal for us. There's just enough "city" - good food, used bookstores, coffee shops, music venues, kitschy shops, a brand-new library, events like First Friday - without the hassles of traffic and overcrowding. We live in a cute, old house one mile from town that we would have paid 3x for in Denver. You can easily navigate the town on a bike, the trails are great and there's plenty of recreation within a 30-minute drive. Atlanta and Charlotte are only a few hours away if you crave big city, and so are the beaches.

The nuclear work combined with the NSA gives Augusta a great opportunity to grow if they make an effort to market the city to potential urban dwellers.

countyman
22770
Points
countyman 04/27/10 - 08:03 pm
0
0
The same people said middle

The same people said middle class/upper middle class families wouldn't move to Laney Walker either. The Enclave has $300k townhomes with private elevators

2 families? Have you seen all the new residential in Laney Walker? Plus their is tons of more new residential coming. The new neighborhood Heritage Pines is 24 homes by itself.

countyman
22770
Points
countyman 04/27/10 - 11:02 pm
0
0
Yeah I love to see the new

Yeah I love to see the new residential going up. The gentrification in Laney Walker looks great.

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