Plans for The Greens on Washington unclear

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An Augusta National Golf Club member has bought a Washington Road apartment complex across from the club, and tenants are not being allowed to renew leases.

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The Greens on Washington apartment complex was purchased in February by Robert L. Johnston, an Augusta National Golf Club member, as an investment.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
The Greens on Washington apartment complex was purchased in February by Robert L. Johnston, an Augusta National Golf Club member, as an investment.

Robert L. Johnston, who bought The Greens on Washington in February, said the purchase has nothing to do with the club’s property acquisitions around Washington and Berckmans roads, but he confirmed that leases were not being renewed and tenants were moving out. The Atlanta businessman said he was still evaluating what to do with The Greens.

Nicole Hawkins said she had to move out June 30 because the apartment management refused to renew her lease. She lived at the apartments for two years.

“(The managers) told me that the National bought it and everybody was going to move out,” Hawkins said.

The Greens’ on-site managers refused to answer questions about the situation and told reporters they were not allowed on the property to interview tenants.

Johnston and his partners formed The Greens on Washington Road Ventures LLC on Dec. 14 and purchased the property for $8.3 million on Feb. 28 from the Mayo Group of Boston.

Johnston said The Greens has deteriorated over the years to the point where a major investment is needed. He said he bought the property because there was substantial value in the land and the location.

“The owners didn’t invest in it like it could have been done,” he said. “It was at 48 percent occupancy when we bought it.”

That might have something to do with the number of tenants being asked to move out. According to Richmond County marshal’s records, more than 190 dispossess notices were served on tenants at the Greens in 2011, about 80 more than the previous year. More than 50 notices were served in the first two months of this year, before the property was sold.

Representatives of the Mayo Group did not return a call seeking comment on the sale of the property or the evictions.

Johnston’s company, First Communities, manages The Greens and two other nearby apartment complexes, Madi­son on the Green on River Ridge Drive and Century Glen apartments on Alexander Drive.

Johnston is business partners with Augusta Na­tional Chairman Billy Payne through their real estate investment company Centennial Holding Company, described as a “sister company” to First Communities on the company Web site.

Johnston said The Greens had no connection to Centennial Holding and that he had not discussed the property with Payne.

Over the past decade, Augusta National has bought nearby properties through holding companies.

Some of these properties along Berckmans Road have become grassy parking areas and others, such as the former Big Tree shopping center next to The Greens, have become administrative buildings and staging areas for Masters Tournament preparations.

Johnston dismissed rumors about Augusta National’s involvement, saying he “couldn’t imagine” a situation in which the club would control the property. He said his goal is to make money on his investment.

How he’ll do that he would not say. Johnston said he’s not sure whether it is best to reinvest in the buildings or just level them and start over. In any case, he said he’ll have a plan in place by spring.

“Maybe a bomb would be best,” Johnston said. “Do you put in thousands per unit and try to get a high rent, or less and try to get a (midrange) rent? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

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Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 07/08/12 - 04:35 pm
6
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It's got nothing to do with

It's got nothing to do with the Augusta National....

Um....yeah.

rmwardsr
525
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rmwardsr 07/08/12 - 05:01 pm
6
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Let the Richmond County Fire

Let the Richmond County Fire Department use them for practice.

proudgunowner
148
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proudgunowner 07/08/12 - 05:09 pm
0
0
Would love to see it another
Unpublished

Would love to see it another parking lot for the Masters. Since last year the crime rate in National Hills has gone way down and now we know why.....The criminals have been evicted!

Just My Opinion
5466
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Just My Opinion 07/08/12 - 05:18 pm
3
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Don't know what they'd do

Don't know what they'd do with that large piece of land that's that far away from the main property. It's not like they could make more parking for the patrons....since they've moved the main entrance gates, it wouldn't be feasible. The past several years, the ANGC has made it apparent that they want to keep their patrons from being screwed over by the public and businesses....they've provided free parking and new restaurants on site. What's to keep them from some sort of accomadations for the patrons...and maybe even the golfers? Build apartments, or something similar, on the grounds that they could put up the golfers or the high-dollar patrons for the week! These could be sold as condos that the owners could use anytime they wanted, but mainly for the week. Businesses could buy them and have a sure place to put up their executives and clients. This would address all those folks who rent out their homes for ridiculous amounts of money during Master's week. Hate to mess over the locals, but I initially think that'd be great use of the land.
Mr. Johnston, you can have my idea....for a free condo!

BTW, rmward...that's a GREAT idea! Hope they do that.

Fiat_Lux
15132
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Fiat_Lux 07/08/12 - 05:39 pm
10
0
No definite plans in place yet...

except to continue enlarging the buffer zone around the National, by private means, of course.

Augusta National members are some of the most astute business people in the United States. They aren't oblivious to or disinterested in the continued deterioration in the level of Augusta's citizenry, nor are they also unaware of its creep north and westward. They also are not the kind of people who will just sit around and let it happen without doing something to protect and insulate their own investment and interests.

The Masters is what puts Augusta on the global map--unless you happen to be an allergist. If some clueless Masters patron ends up murdered by one of our homegrown thugs in the area of the Augusta National itself, well, you can imagine the outrage. And the fall-out of that could be as bad for us as all the attacks on European tourists have been for Miami's tourist trade.

The Augusta National membership is not going to let that happen, if there's anything that money can do to prevent it. This is a preemptive move and nothing less, no matter what they decide to do with the property.

I applaud these efforts to control the environment. It helps that whole corridor.

seenitB4
85735
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seenitB4 07/08/12 - 06:18 pm
5
1
8.3 million

Does anyone really think he just paid 8.3 million on this property & doesn't know what he is going to do with it?? Anyone??

Also has the tenants moving out.....

bye bye downtown--hello new Augusta..

Just My Opinion
5466
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Just My Opinion 07/08/12 - 06:49 pm
4
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I can't see why any Augustan

I can't see why any Augustan would feel threatened by these purchases....except for maybe the Augustans who are living/renting around there! I never thought of what Fiat alluded to, and it makes perfect sense to upgrade that which the city can't. Along the lines of taking care of your own neighborhood if you had the oppurtunity to do so. If we had that chance, wouldn't each of us do the same? I know I would.

countyman
19731
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countyman 07/08/12 - 10:02 pm
0
5
I don't think the renovation

I don't think the renovation of one property on Washington rd is going to cause panic downtown.. I haven't notice this much private construction downtown in decades.. You have the JB white condo expansion on Broad/private parking on Ellis street, renovated Regency Inn(Holiday Inn Express), Fort Discovery renovation, Bath Fitters next to the Marbury Center, Sprint Food & Metro Market, 901 Broad residential/retail, 2K Architects renovating the Jacoby Phinizy house, 834 Greene residential, 307 9th residential/retail, 1120 Jones street 8 apts, 920 Greene six apts, Saint Sebastian/Broad/Greene landscaping etc in the CBD..

Then you have the future projects starting later this year and 2013 in the urban core... Medical Commons, Laney Walker pedestrian park, 9th street/James Brown Boulevard streetscape, Hyatt Place, Augusta Canal expansion, Laney Walker/Bethlehem, and the 15th street neighborhood Walmart/other businesses.....

There's two developments who will help changed the face of the CBD are the TEE center & GGHF property.... The future of the CBD is extremely bright.. If the CBD can land another white collar company(Rural Sourcing: 100 IT jobs) in 2012/2013 then the grass is only greener...

Tourist coming to Augusta want to visit the Riverwalk, local businesses, culture, etc in the CBD... They don't want to visit West Augusta except for the Augusta National... West Augusta is very nice, but it doesn't have the culture of the CBD.. The high growth around Washington rd isn't hurting the CBD from moving forward...

If Cal Ripken and Jim Jacoby get their wish, and become involved in the GGHF property.. Then people can watch sporting/concert events, eat, shop, and live on the river....

justthefacts
21399
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justthefacts 07/08/12 - 10:13 pm
4
0
Tourist?

What tourist?

Just My Opinion
5466
Points
Just My Opinion 07/09/12 - 05:05 am
3
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There's going to be a Laney

There's going to be a Laney Walker pedestrian park?? Really?? That's one of those things that SOUNDS like a good idea on paper, but when it happens, you just KNOW what the place is going to look like in the future! I mean, the beautiful Laney stadium was vandalized and wrecked BEFORE it even opened!! I would love for this park to be a showplace...but it won't. I challenge the people of that area to keep the crime element out of there and let that park be a clean, safe place for children to play in WITHOUT parents having to worry about their child being beaten up, robbed, or raped! I challenge the parents, preachers, and politicians to cut out my comment here and post it up and talk it up amongst the people in that area. I hope you all prove me wrong...but I doubt it. In a couple of years after it's built, I hope I won't have to come back on one of the crime stories involving this Laney Walker pedestrian park and say "I told you so!".

Riverman1
82431
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Riverman1 07/09/12 - 06:27 am
3
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Just My Opinion and Fiat get

Just My Opinion and Fiat get it.

But this: "West Augusta is very nice, but it doesn't have the culture of the CBD." Is hilarious.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 07/09/12 - 07:19 am
3
1
It is going to be a holding

It is going to be a holding cell for ticket scalpers. Nice quarters will be set up for the off duty cops patrolling and arresting offenders, There will be large chain wire dog cages with tops to hold the scalpers. This will expediate the booking process and cause no problems on 4th street. Bondsmen will be standing ready.

RogueKnight
210
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RogueKnight 07/09/12 - 09:07 am
1
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Tournament housing...

Tournament housing...

itsanotherday1
42227
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itsanotherday1 07/09/12 - 09:33 am
1
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Fiat_Lux nailed it down tight

Fiat_Lux nailed it down tight IMO.

bdouglas
4899
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bdouglas 07/09/12 - 09:43 am
2
0
Nothing to do with Augusta

Nothing to do with Augusta National...

George Strait said it well:
"I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona,
From my front porch you can see the sea.
I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona,
And if you'll buy that, I'll throw the Golden Gate in free..."

allhans
23546
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allhans 07/09/12 - 10:10 am
1
0
It is so good this Monday

It is so good this Monday morning to read something other than bad news.
If we could just have some more of this?

Little Lamb
45337
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Little Lamb 07/09/12 - 10:31 am
2
0
13th & Reynolds

Countyman wrote (syntax corrected by LL):

If Cal Ripken and Jim Jacoby get their wish and become involved in the GGHF property, then people can watch sporting/concert events, eat, shop, and live on the river.

Sorry. The land belongs to the Board of Regents, now. They have a solemn obligation to use the land for the benefit of their students and/or faculty. It is not to be used for commercial activity.

triscuit
2995
Points
triscuit 07/09/12 - 11:07 am
2
0
As a tax-paying homeowner in

As a tax-paying homeowner in the nearby area, I am hoping this LLC that owns this property AND the Madison on the Greens will simply raze these properties. To believe this has nothing to to with Augusta National is...hahahahaha.

countyman
19731
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countyman 07/09/12 - 11:40 am
0
1
Justthefacts... The millions

Justthefacts... The millions of tourist who visit Richmond County each year......

JustMyOpinion... The Laney Walker pedestrian park is located in the Medical District, and not in the actual neighborhood.. I also have to disagree with you earlier comments.. There's plenty of new homes/residents in the area, and the crime rate is going down... AR Johnson,Tabernacle, Laney Walker Enterprise center, etc all have new buildings with no signs of vandalism..... A private developer is turning the fomer Orphange on 12th street into housing.... There are plenty of good people who live in neighborhoods like East Augusta, Laney Walker, or Harrisbug who are making comebacks...

Riverman... Actually your comments telling us Augusta is 61% black, Aldi coming to Martinez is no big deal(Mikes Furniture, Ryans, Golden Corral, Kmart, Electrolux, two Food Lions have/will dissapear) or the TEE center would attract zero events(12 booked) is hilarious...

Nobody in thier right mind would think Washington rd has more culture than the CBD... I've talked to several tourist who stayed in both the Sheraton in West Augusta and the Marriotts downtown... What local shops, local events/festivals, musicians playing on the side of the street, street vendors, etc do you see on Washington rd??

Sean Moores
192
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Sean Moores 07/09/12 - 11:29 am
2
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@ countyman

countyman, contact me please 706 823 3448 or sean.moores@augustachronicle.com

Just My Opinion
5466
Points
Just My Opinion 07/09/12 - 12:33 pm
1
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County, I don't understand

County, I don't understand what I wrote that you don't agree with...you need to be more specific please. Don't know about the others, but I've never had a problem with County's posts...I like to hear about the new stuff coming in. And what is the problem with building up the area around the ANGC? Anyway...County, I wouldn't call Sean if I were you! Can't be good news! Best to put off the bad news as long as you can!

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 07/09/12 - 01:29 pm
0
1
JMO... It sounded like you

JMO... It sounded like you were saying nice things can't exist, because of the local residents in the area... The Laney Walker stadium might have been vandalized in the past, but now it attracts AAU meets/other events from around the state...

There's plenty of new homes, businesses, etc in the area... My point is things can survive in the area without having any problems.... I don't think anybody expects the neighborhood to magically turn around overnight... If Olde Town can attract people who can afford to live anywhere, and it's located right next to East Augusta... Then Laney Walker can attract medical students/empty nesters because it's located near the CBD/Medical District...

allhans
23546
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allhans 07/09/12 - 01:31 pm
1
0
Maybe countyman knows

Maybe countyman knows something and Sean is curious.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 07/09/12 - 01:38 pm
1
1
Bruce Dickensen needs more Countyman!!!!

It's so obvious Mr. Johnston is buying up land to develop into a Senior's course or some type of secondary 18 holes.

Just kidding but I remember a recent article that made mention of a second course development and I'm just connecting the two. I truly think that the purchase is to secure the area, like Fiat stated already. It could just as easily be to make money like Mr. Johnston was quoted as saying. That land is valuable due to location and proximity to the ACC. It was bought cheap. There is money to be made if someone wants to put in the effort.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 07/09/12 - 01:54 pm
4
0
Since some folks think that a

Since some folks think that a new a baseball stadium will cure cancer, end hunger and establish world peace, maybe the apartments should be torn down and replaced with a baseball stadium.

It would be fitting to have the GreenJackets play ball that close to the National.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 07/09/12 - 02:59 pm
1
0
Blanchard and Calhoun is also

Blanchard and Calhoun is also acquiring property in the Vineland neighborhood.. for pretty steep prices... more hospitality homes in the future?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/09/12 - 03:40 pm
1
0
I gotta fever, and the only

I gotta fever, and the only prescription is more golf courses!

triscuit
2995
Points
triscuit 07/09/12 - 04:01 pm
1
0
it would make more sense for

it would make more sense for them to use all of Vineland to expand the actual golf course if that is what they want to do one day. That would give Aug. Natl land down to Lake Olmstead. But anything outside of the gates, like across the road, will probably be parking or non-secured use. It would be great if a developer would build single family homes, around 1800-2200 sq. feet, under $200,000. There's no new home availability in that area.

Just My Opinion
5466
Points
Just My Opinion 07/09/12 - 04:17 pm
0
0
County, I wasn't exactly

County, I wasn't exactly saying that nice things CAN'T exist in places like Laney Walker, but I do have to admit that I seriously doubt they can! We both know that there are very good people in those neighborhoods that take pride in what they have, but there are also many people who don't care about those things because when you have that sense of entitlement, along with that comes apathy and a scornful nature. Houses/apartments aren't cleaned, lawns aren't mowed, broken windows aren't replaced, etc.....and that does go on in the Laney Walker area as well as South Augusta and Columbia County! But the degradation SEEMS (note I said "seems") to occur most often in the Laney Walker area, and further east....and yes, I do travel into those areas enough to see this. And, like I said earlier, I do HOPE they prove me wrong. Time will tell.
Keep up the good info work! Some of us do enjoy it....the editorial stuff, not so much. But if we can put in our 2 cents worth, you've got a right also.

countyman
19731
Points
countyman 07/09/12 - 04:23 pm
0
0
If the Greens on Washington

If the Greens on Washington was similar to some of the poorer apartments in the county, instead of having a few bad residents.. Then the apartment complex would have been purchased before the multiple homes off Berckman rd, Big Tree Shopping center, etc instead of years later.. How bad can the apartments be if the National Hills shopping center(right next door) had Elextrolux, Legends Club, CVS, and Fresh Market expand??

If you ask the sherriff department they would tell you burglaries/car break ins were problems, and not people afraid of being killed... If they really wanted to 'secure' the entire Washington rd area... They wouldn't have denied the condo development at the National Hills shopping center... The new condos would have automatically raised the surrounding real estate prices....

The National wants to make money off the location, and control the surrounding area.. The problem was having an underutilized piece of real estate in one of the richest areas.

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