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North Augusta reveals stadium plan; Ripken sells GreenJackets

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Rendering shows proposed North Augusta stadium and development in relation to 13th Street Bridge at bottom right
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 9:18 AM
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 1:23 AM
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After lobbying for years to bring baseball downtown, the Augusta GreenJackets found a likely taker – across the river in North Augusta – as part of what Mayor Lark Jones called “the biggest proposal that has ever been made” in the history of the South Carolina city.

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North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover speaks during the announcement of a major multi-use development proposal known as Project Jackson during the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce A.M. Connection meeting. The development, still in the early planning phases, is set to feature a hotel, baseball stadium, and retail, residential and office space.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover speaks during the announcement of a major multi-use development proposal known as Project Jackson during the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce A.M. Connection meeting. The development, still in the early planning phases, is set to feature a hotel, baseball stadium, and retail, residential and office space.

Confirming widespread speculation Wednesday morning that a secret proposal known as “Project Jackson” indeed includes a sports and entertainment center for the GreenJackets – and a hotel, restaurants, townhouses, conference center, parking garage and more – city officials and developers revealed the details at a morning meeting.

The proposal, on which city officials are seeking public input, grew out of long-term plans to develop a high-density town center on the riverbank beside Hammond’s Ferry, City Administrator Todd Glover said. The site adjoins the 13th Street bridge connecting downtown Augusta and North Augusta.

The development proposal includes a 200-room resort-style hotel and conference center modeled after Hampton Terrace, a North Augusta winter resort that burned in 1916; up to four restaurants; 75 townhouses; 225 apartments; 30,000 square feet of retail space; 40,000 square feet of office space; and 900 parking spaces.

Under the proposal, the city would be responsible for about 30 percent of the financing, about $43 million for the sports and entertainment center, conference center and parking garage. In exchange, private developers promise $122 million in investment for the hotel, retail, residential and office space in addition to the already-announced new riverfront Family Y, Glover said.

The announcement Wednesday was coupled with the additional revelation that the GreenJackets are changing owners. Two of them, Chris Schoen and former Ripken Baseball Vice President Jeff Eiseman, were involved in earlier efforts to persuade city of Augusta officials to build a stadium on the Augusta side of the Savannah River and spoke to the group Wednesday.

Shoen, a previous minor-league owner involved with teams in Salem, Va., Fort Wayne, Ind., and Savannah, Ga., said Augusta’s loss of an ideal riverfront tract – the former Golf & Gardens property, now owned by Georgia Health Sciences University – prompted his look across the river.

Schoen, of Atlanta-based Greenstone Properties, emphasized the multipurpose nature of the sports and entertainment complex, which he said could be used for concerts and other sports, including football.

While not all public funding sources have been identified, Glover and Jones said the intent was to make the development “pay for itself.” An example of that would be using a Tax Increment Financing district that routes new property tax revenue from the development back into infrastructure costs at the site.

Jones mentioned a “seat tax” charged to ticket-holders for the facility’s games and other events; other sources of funding would come from a long-term lease of the stadium to the GreenJackets and a bond issue to be repaid from lease and other payments from the GreenJackets but not the city’s general fund, according to a news release.

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Dixieman
13866
Points
Dixieman 12/19/12 - 10:25 am
26
1
Dixieman has 10 billion points

Last person out of Augusta, please turn the lights off.

allhans
23471
Points
allhans 12/19/12 - 10:29 am
8
4
I can't say I blame Ripken

I can't say I blame Ripken for selling. He hasn't been well received by Augustans.

soapy_725
43598
Points
soapy_725 12/19/12 - 10:30 am
1
0
Praise the Lord.....
Unpublished

and that letter to Santa on behalf of ARC taxpayers helped as well. Santa does know who has been naughty. God knows too. Let the healing begin. Certainly a lot of taxpayers have been praying for relief.

The Bean
80
Points
The Bean 12/19/12 - 10:32 am
14
2
Sigh

...and Augusta screws up another opportunity. It's OK, though. As long as our side of the riverfront is lined with dilapidated buildings with no use. Wouldn't want to make "progress" on anything worthwhile.

soapy_725
43598
Points
soapy_725 12/19/12 - 10:32 am
0
0
Deke can still get a N.A. Green Jackets ball cap...
Unpublished

and most certainly celebrity seating. countyman will spin all of the good news of the CSRA into a scenario of the CBD progress. Whatever.

Little Lamb
44874
Points
Little Lamb 12/19/12 - 10:35 am
6
1
Formerly

From the story:

Former Ripken Baseball vice president Jeff Eiseman also revealed at the morning meeting of the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce that the GreenJackets have new owners, including several from Georgia and South Carolina.

So are we to gather that when Ripken Baseball sold the GreenJackets that he also terminated Jeff Eiseman?

Would it be that hard for the Chronicle to report the name of the LLC that now owns the GreenJackets and also, perhaps, some of the principals.

itsanotherday1
41367
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itsanotherday1 12/19/12 - 10:37 am
6
0
A good marriage of

A good marriage of public/private money too.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/19/12 - 10:40 am
11
0
Cal's name was nothing more

than a way to generate interest and resell-ability from the start.

The bigger and more interesting part is the story.

"...revealed this morning to include a hotel, conference center and multipurpose sports facility .

Anyone want to guess which side of the river will get more bookings since the TAXES are lower on the other side and likely lower operational overhead?

countyman
19527
Points
countyman 12/19/12 - 10:56 am
4
12
This is a good proposal, and

This is a good proposal, and I would to see what happens in the future.

Open Curtain.. I'm positive the Augusta side of the river will get more bookings. I'm pretty sure the conference center is going to be rather small compared to Augusta. This is like comparing the exhibition hall in Grovetown versus Augusta. I would like to hear the responses to the conference center. Since some people thought Augusta couldn't support one. I wonder how they feel about North Augusta trying to support one.

I don't know why the same few people from Columbia County always have to take a shot at Augusta. Do they really want to compare Starbucks, Rockwood, Residential Inn by Marriott, Medical Commons, Home2Suites by Hilton, etc in Richmond versus the ALDI, taxslayer, and the fitness center in Columbia County?

I know the sky is always falling Augusta, but there's 17 acres(GGHF site), and the Watermark property on the river.

FormerAugustaResident
101
Points
FormerAugustaResident 12/19/12 - 10:52 am
10
2
Perhaps the Augusta City Government...

....can stand on the banks of the Savannah River and see what could have been.

LostatSRS
15
Points
LostatSRS 12/19/12 - 10:53 am
10
3
NAPS Speeding Tickets

North Augusta will be making money - somebody may want to start a boat service to avoid the 13th Street bridge.

boomhauer
650
Points
boomhauer 12/19/12 - 10:56 am
2
0
North Augusta seems to know
Unpublished

North Augusta seems to know what they're doing, Columbia County seems to know what they're doing, Augusta...well not so much!

Riverman1
81370
Points
Riverman1 12/19/12 - 10:59 am
10
1
Open Curtain, EXACTLY!!! This

Open Curtain, EXACTLY!!! This is going to be a fantastic, safe place for conventions. I wonder how big the hotel and convention center will be?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/19/12 - 11:03 am
12
2
Aside from all the shots

Aside from all the shots being thrown. This is sad for alot of us. I remember meeting Jeter at the Olmstead park playing the Augusta Pirates. I took my son to his first ballgame there. Augusta has always had a minor-league team and now it won't. Don't see why the best option was to eliminate baseball. I don't think we should have been made to choose between building a tax-funded stadium on the river and losing the team but that's what we darn sure got. Way to go whoever is at the helm that allowed things to sour like this.

On the flip-side, way to go North Augusta. I look forward to "breaking-in" the new park and watching awesome baseball on the river.

David

F4therTime
4656
Points
F4therTime 12/19/12 - 11:04 am
1
1
No Countyman
Unpublished

Nobody in their right mind wants to do business with a commission that can't agree to anything unless it benefits Billy and Paul. I said all along if it's a great deal than where is the private money? This proposal shows it.

countyman
19527
Points
countyman 12/19/12 - 11:06 am
3
5
The North Augusta residents

The North Augusta residents will have to choose between a tax-funded stadium, or not get the team.

This is only still a proposal, and that's why that shared their previous plan yesterday.

SON of Scoob
434
Points
SON of Scoob 12/19/12 - 11:07 am
9
3
Bravo fo North Augusta

The clowns downtown have missed another opportunity to make Augusta better and our president doesn't want to make the country better.

Wow and wait a minute, is there a common denominator here ?

soapy_725
43598
Points
soapy_725 12/19/12 - 11:09 am
1
0
Swamp Stadium ?
Unpublished

More power to you, N.A. Better your eebt that S. Augusta taxpayers. Have you every been to that area? Great development. Great concept. But it is in the SWAMP. An area that has always been the overflow of the river. It will take we some serious "pile driving" to support tall building and concrete mass.

But this is the "bizarro world" of Augusta. Now there will be a reflection of Boardman-Copenhaver Stadium, just on the reverse side of the river.

Pickett
67
Points
Pickett 12/19/12 - 11:07 am
6
1
Uhmm....

They are only moving 5 miles away....

Riverman1
81370
Points
Riverman1 12/19/12 - 11:11 am
5
1
So the sale of the

So the sale of the Greenjackets has been in the works for awhile. Interesting how all the talk about the GGHOF property was out there and Ripken people were making the rounds. They were going to sell all along. The Greenjackets just need to keep the major league affiliation. I wonder who the buyers are?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/19/12 - 11:35 am
7
2
So the ratio of tax-funds vs

So the ratio of tax-funds vs owner investment is comparable to each other? Without going back and checking the numbers, I thought the N. Augusta arrangement was about a third from the taxes and 2/3 investment. Wasn't the proposal for the one at the GGHF 100% tax funds? Correct me if I'm wrong though.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/19/12 - 11:34 am
4
2
@ Pickett

True, but if the Bulldogs moved to Columbia SC, it would be the same drive-time from Augusta but it's not the same. Get it?

Little Lamb
44874
Points
Little Lamb 12/19/12 - 11:37 am
5
1
Tax Funds

You are correct, David. All the news stories published about the Augusta downtown ballpark had Ripken Baseball putting up not one thin dime toward the cost. It must have been what inspired Paul Simon to have the city build him an Exhibition Center and parking deck and they pay him to manage them.

Riverman1
81370
Points
Riverman1 12/19/12 - 11:38 am
5
1
What we are all overlooking

What we are all overlooking is that there was never a location on the Augusta side where the stadium could have been built. The GGHOF property was never going to be given away by the state. Azziz wants it for GRU.

Riverman1
81370
Points
Riverman1 12/19/12 - 11:39 am
3
0
David and LL, I recall it was

David and LL, I recall it was reported Ripken would have put up some of the money...not that it matters now.

Ray Marks
48
Points
Ray Marks 12/19/12 - 11:40 am
11
0
Take down the levee

Time to revisit taking down the un-necessary levee on the Augusta side so Augusta will actually have a riverfront to develop like the North Augusta side has.

RonRoberts
63
Points
RonRoberts 12/19/12 - 11:47 am
18
0
Congratulations, Augusta; not

Congratulations, Augusta; not only have you lost your baseball stadium tenant, effectively making Lake Olmstead stadium yet ANOTHER "white elephant" trophy in your city limits, you also lose the team to another STATE.

Meanwhile, across from the downtown you keep pouring money chasing ridiculous fairy tales of "tourist draws" like the Golf Gardens & Hall and the St. Morris Museum of Art, North Augusta puts on its "big boy" britches and puts the downtown ballpark plan together AND builds a "downtown" around the park. Only THEN will you see the benefit of having a ballpark around blocks of pedestrian-friendly retail doors and windows.

Yes, by all means, build your little TEE Center and watch as no one local graces your downtown stores, and no out-of-towner who gets lured in for a conference takes any chances on wandering too far from their hotel and meeting space. Across the river, for 70+ nights a year, 2500+ will be whooping it up, spending that money you'll never get a piece of. And before and after those games, they'll dine at the cafes within walking distance.

The non-game nights? Your TEE center guests will be taking cabs or shuttles over to enjoy the retail around that ballpark, because you didn't want that ballpark on your side of the river.

Brilliant job, Augustans!

junkyardpig
417
Points
junkyardpig 12/19/12 - 11:48 am
12
4
this is nothing new. the

this is nothing new. the lynx left, replaced later by an awful team, NO college football, small level college basketball. now the green jackets heading to sc. the merger of the two colleges didnt even want to use the name augusta. what augusta ( the 2nd largest city in ga) has is high crime, poor schools, high unemployment and of course-alot of welfare housing and moochers

dichotomy
31677
Points
dichotomy 12/19/12 - 12:02 pm
15
1
" public investement $43

" public investement $43 million and private investment of $122 million."

Gee.....a 3 to 1 private/public investment ratio. How novel. If our local clowns had ever demonstrated ANY ability to involve mostly PRIVATE development money there might have been more support for a ball park, excuse me, mixed use facility. But 1) they have never demonstrated such ability, and 2) their estimates have always been off by 100%. It always cost US twice as much as they told us it would and it is always all OUR money and we always follow it up with a maintenance and operation agreement that loses even more money. I told you North Augusta would negotiate a better deal. I wish them luck.

Note to mayor and commission: ZERO confidence makes voters and taxpayers hesitant. Now that Marion is back it's less than ZERO. Can't handle a decision on the golf course....less than ZERO. Too gutless to fix the illegal property tax system.......less than ZERO. The prospects of "I'm against everything the white commissioners are for" Alvin Mason being mayor......less than ZERO. A commission with "walk out" Hatney, "drag stip" Williams, and "I may or may not show up but if I do I will vote against my constituents" Grady Smith.........less than ZERO. Confidence is LOW gentlemen. Welcome to your track record.

Real Justice
5
Points
Real Justice 12/19/12 - 11:57 am
3
7
North Augusta Development

North Augusta has always been considered a bedroom community to Augusta. Now that Augusta is illustrating an inability to agree on almost anything North Augusta should not believe that it can do it better. North Augusta is decades away from considering anything of this size. Their are way too many family's that built their dream on the river in anticipation of a quiet and controlled lifestyle. If the Aiken County Council and the North Augusta Ego's consider proceeding with this "Lark" there will be unlimited battles to wage. This area has shown that any type of Professional Sports will not be supported and in fact it is too unpredictable. I can appreciate the desire for growth in restuarants and other types of entertainment in North Augusta but I say try to accomplish this first before you jump off the bridge with something that way bigger than you are.

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