Education

More News | |

Mills project hinges on factory repairs

Sunday, June 9, 2013 5:15 PM
Last updated Monday, June 10, 2013 10:44 AM
  • Follow Latest News

At the height of production in the mid-1980s, Sibley Mill bustled at the edge of downtown Augusta, producing 22 million pounds of denim each year.

Back | Next
A view of the Powderworks chimney is seen from the roof of the historic Sibley Mill along the Augusta Canal. The chimney is the only remaining portion of the original Confederate gunpowder factory that stood at this location during the Civil War.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
A view of the Powderworks chimney is seen from the roof of the historic Sibley Mill along the Augusta Canal. The chimney is the only remaining portion of the original Confederate gunpowder factory that stood at this location during the Civil War.

Since then, spindles have been de-threaded, more than 33,000 pieces of machinery have been scrapped and the bell tower has been silenced.

Only a handful of the plant’s 1,200 employees remain at the 40,000-square-foot facility, manning a set of turbines that siphon water from the Augusta Ca­nal to generate 15 million kilowatt hours of green energy a year for residents.

Billy Power, a 40-year mill worker, is among the surviving class.

“I would love to see it come back to life,” the plant manager said. “Every corner you turn, there’s history.”

Seven years after Sibley Mill plaited its last shipment, Power might get his wish.

The Augusta Regional Col­la­bora­tion Project is working to reinvent the campus – and its sister facility, King Mill – into 50 acres of cultural space where Georgia Re­gents University students can live, study and possibly return the level of innovation and excitement the factories once provided the city.

Matt Kwatinetz, the executive director of the collaboration project, said the group has assembled a team of land-use planners, architects and engineers to inspect the structural integrity of the plants, design a new layout and search for funding.

No official commitment has been made by GRU. Power said the plan, which closely resembles the multimillion-dollar makeover given to Enterprise Mill, is “perfect.”

The project has a “cross-subsidy” growth model planned for Sibley and King Mills.

Reborn as the Mills Campus, the warehouses would house wide-open offices walled with glass, exposed ductwork and walkways that snake around colossal coal furnaces. Cafés, hotels, retail outlets and a solar farm would possibly be built around the warehouses to help leverage investment, increase population, attract business, reduce real estate vacancy and generate tax revenues to further growth.

The state Board of Regents expressed interest in the vision this month, hiring Boston-based consulting firm Sasaki Associates to evaluate whether GRU should offer its support for the 15-year, $1 billion effort.

The initial phase is expected to cost $1.5 million; $300,000 of the total was funded by the Augusta Commission last week. Assuming all parties say yes, Kwatinetz said the mills will be rebuilt to GRU’s requirements, possibly as soon as next spring.

But that’s a strong assumption.

A tour of Sibley Mill last week by Kwatinetz’s panel of planners showed a plant that needs major safety upgrades, substantial repair to meet minimum housing standards and might be too much space for a school of about 9,000 students.

Among the problems identified in the walkthrough include:

• Outdated and disconnected light fixtures

• Chipped concrete and crumbling brick foundation

• Splintered and rotting wooden door frames

• Weed-infested outdoor drainage pipes

• Leaking indoor plumbing wrapped in duct tape

• Metal support beams, overhead walkways, and 40,000-gallon boilers collapsed and corroded

• Rows of bricked-in and boarded-up windows

• Signs of lead paint and asbestos

“Structurally the mills are in great shape,” said Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Augusta Canal Authority, which owns the mills, vacant since August 2010. “It’s just the cosmetics that are lacking a little bit.”

Kwatinetz maintains the project will generate far more money than it will require for cleanup. A study by the Political Economy Research Institute estimates that for every $1 million invested in green energy, 13 new jobs are created.

The figures work well for the mills, as the new campus would be self-sustaining, powered exclusively by the on-site turbine, Sherrouse said.

The mills have been approved for a $200,000 grant through the Environmental Protection Agency to remediate contaminate soil, are Internet ready, have working sprinkler systems and are equipped with freight elevators that could be converted to passenger lifts. The roofs also appear in good shape.

Sherrouse said the canal authority has yet to talk price. However, he said the state would only negotiate an outright sale or lease.

“We ultimately bought the mills to redevelop the land, not really knowing what that might mean,” he said.

He said the plan is a “win-win” for the city, university and region, if it can be worked out.

Kwatinetz said the project will take a huge amount of work and many players to complete.

“But that’s great,” he said. “These mills are a treasure and should once again be restored to their prime, when they were an industry leader in innovation.”

This time, he said, “we’re coming back as leader in education.”

Comments (29)

Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
triscuit
2431
Points
triscuit 06/09/13 - 06:25 pm
2
1

Quote: "Matt Kwantinetz, the

Quote: "Matt Kwantinetz, the executive director of the collaboration project, said the group has assembled a team of land-use planners, architects and engineers to inspect the structural integrity of the plants, design a new layout and search for funding."
Are ANY members of this team LOCAL companies? Why will no one answer this? If not, why should Augusta residents be expected to pay for it. If the movers and shake(downers) of this city would make an effort to keep work local, then maybe the citizens would support it. Don't send construction, consulting, and design dollars to Atlanta and NY, etc. when fundraisers go knocking on Augusta doors, find out who will get that money!

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/09/13 - 06:48 pm
3
4

Great news for Harrisburg, Richmond County, and CSRA

This is a very large development over 15 years, and I'm sure the local companies would be able to participate.

The city's portion was only $300k of $1.5 million, and that shows the private sector interest. On top of the company building a solar panel farm, and will pay the city rent. Any money in the future coming from GRU will be the entire state of Georgia taxpayers.

The Mills campus, Kroc Center, renovated Martha Lester school, redevelopment of the bus terminal, MCG foundation existing properties, and commercial development near Kroger can form a sizable economic storm.

Augusta will become a national model in the US, and especially for metros between 500k-1million populations.

mdl1946
886
Points
mdl1946 06/09/13 - 08:26 pm
2
1

$$$$$$

$1 Billion!!!!!!!!!
There kidding ? Right

mdl1946
886
Points
mdl1946 06/09/13 - 08:28 pm
3
1

$$$$$$

$ 1 Billion???????
Their kidding????? Right?

itsanotherday1
34921
Points
itsanotherday1 06/09/13 - 08:41 pm
3
1

I will have to admit, this is

I will have to admit, this is an exciting prospect. I hope it flies and meets projected financial estimates.

Gage Creed
12708
Points
Gage Creed 06/09/13 - 09:16 pm
2
2

I wonder if any of these news

I wonder if any of these news folks can spell. The mans name is Kwatinetz....or at least that's what is says on Google. They might should look him up... one called him Kwapinetz, this article call him Kwantinetz.

Anyhow, you might want to view his LinkedIn page to get a view of the consultant the has been brought in to spearhead the "cultural" mills.

BTW... What does it mean when you say for every $1M invested in green energy there are 13 new jobs created? So does that mean 13 jobs at $50K and someone slides $350K in their pocket?

Little Lamb
40301
Points
Little Lamb 06/09/13 - 09:24 pm
5
1

Excuse Me . . .

. . . but isn't it more intelligent to build student housing on campus? And exactly what percentage of students studying to become medical doctors really want to live in a dorm or student apartment environment? Also, isn't $1.5 billion a bit steep, even for Azziz?

Gage Creed
12708
Points
Gage Creed 06/09/13 - 09:36 pm
4
2

Don't worry about that lead

Don't worry about that lead paint, asbestos, and contaminated soil. Is Enterprise Mill powered by it's turbines? I seem to remember some issues with the power generation back when it came online.

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/09/13 - 09:50 pm
1
3

Mills campus

Matthew just started recently working for the city of Augusta, and worked before on the process of finding the perfect location for the Starbucks plant(South Augusta/$172 million). It makes sense to hire somebody who can offer an outsiders perspective, but that's already somewhat familiar with the local community.

GRU is multiple campuses similar to GSU located in downtown Atlanta, and this would create one large campus destination. The majority of students at GRU won't be Medical students, and the majority of students definitely want the 'college atmosphere'(especially freshmen).

Gage Creed
12708
Points
Gage Creed 06/09/13 - 09:57 pm
7
3

Moneypit!

Moneypit!

triscuit
2431
Points
triscuit 06/09/13 - 10:36 pm
3
1

Money going elsewhere besides

Money going elsewhere besides Augusta?

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/09/13 - 10:39 pm
1
2

Local

Triscuit.. Click on next link beside the picture twice, and the read sentence under Billy Power.

Riverman1
70943
Points
Riverman1 06/10/13 - 04:31 am
6
2

Number of Students is Actually Decreasing

I THINK I’m in favor of this project, but it does seem to be a case of “build it and they will come.” The campuses of MCG and ASU seem to serve the purposes of those divisions of the university currently. MCG will not greatly increase the number of students for many years due to inherent limitations of medical schools with class size, instructors, labs and so on. ASU has actually had a decrease in the number of students the past few years. Extension colleges have sprung up all over town and the Internet schools are rapidly growing. The Internet is the real game changer, offering excellent instruction at the convenience of the student for less money. Mayor Copenhaver stated if he were an 18 year old with a kayak and bike he would be heading to the campus on the canal. The canal, river and bike paths are not that far from the current campuses, yet student enrollment at ASU lags. To gamble $1.5 BILLION with no assurances of more students coming is foolish. Find ways to increase the student population and then the facilities will make sense. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

nocnoc
31208
Points
nocnoc 06/10/13 - 07:28 am
4
1

Surprise ! Just returned from

Surprise !

Just returned from a trip to Lawrenceville Ga (Gwinnett Co.)

It seem they already are implementing this type plan.
Gwinnett co. is converting local city owned property into Dorm rooms on the hopes that a Local college will bite.

Another Idea copied from Gwinnett Co.
I repeat, hire the guy dreaming this stuff up and get it from the source.

floridasun
279
Points
floridasun 06/10/13 - 07:44 am
3
1

This Is An Exciting Project

This is an exciting project.
It will take time and effort but at the end of the day a big win for GRU and Augusta? The renovation of the Enterprise and Sutherland Mills have been quite successful.

Bulldog
1251
Points
Bulldog 06/10/13 - 08:13 am
4
1

Encouraging

The article is encouraging. The development of this property will go a long way towards helping to resurrect Harrisburg. Capitalizing on the tremendous value of the canal is far overdue.

Little Lamb
40301
Points
Little Lamb 06/10/13 - 09:23 am
4
1

$1.5 Billion

Pretty soon, you're talking real money.

If I were Dr. Azziz and someone from the state told me I had $1.5 billion at my disposal, I would go for land acquisition and new construction. I would search for a location at a place different from the mills and the powderworks area.

You can do a lot of new construction for $1.5 billion because you don't have to spend money on asbestos abatement or lead abatement. You don't have to repair crumbling foundations. And so on.

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/10/13 - 11:41 am
1
4

Mills campus

The current campuses don't even feel like a 'campus' except for the Summerville campus..

The Medical District feels like a bunch of different buildings, and can't be compared to one single campus at the Mills..

1.5 billion is not a lot money in terms of GRU facilities, private sector developments, etc..

A list of completed/future developments.
1. $112 million Dental school opened 2011
2. $76.5 million Medical Commons under construction
3. $5 million going towards the existing Cancer Center
4. $1 million Laney Walker pedestrian park coming soon
5. $200 million Cancer Center/crosswalk over 15th coming soon (helping Augusta become home to the 2nd NCI Cancer Center in the state/Emory in Atlanta)
6. $50 million renovation of the old dental school coming soon
7. 25 acre commercial development is also coming soon

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/10/13 - 11:58 am
1
4

Future growth

The student population of ASU will pick up steam again, and the only problem is the 'commuter' atmosphere... University of Phoenix can't provide this atmosphere, but ASU can't either at the moment.

The governor also included money for 400 new residency slots across the state. The 2014 budget offers $4.6 million to increased the faculty at the dental school because of future higher enrollment.

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 06/10/13 - 12:12 pm
1
0

The Mills could have been the Kroc Center.

Unpublished

But that was not the Kroc Plan. New construction allows for more corruption and graft. New project have "nebular costs and over runs". Capital vs. Expense spending. Retrofitting cost more real dollars. Not Monopoly Money.

Brad Owens
3674
Points
Brad Owens 06/10/13 - 01:04 pm
6
0

15-year, $1 billion effort... Yeah, RIGHT.

A billion on one project? We can't even get the weeds pulled along Riverwalk.

Also, if they say $1,000,000,000.00 it will cost $5,000,000,000.00 id Augusta's past is any indicator. Not to mention inflation.

You all are dreaming. This is nothing more than certain parties getting all the "studies" they need to make money done on our dime.

Absolute waste of money and time.

Riverman1
70943
Points
Riverman1 06/10/13 - 02:04 pm
4
0

About MCG not feeling like a

About MCG not feeling like a campus, there's nothing that can be done about that. Medical schools are usually built in conjunction with teaching hospitals such as MCG is now. You can't move the hundreds of millions in facilities they have there to the Mill campus. In addition there are not that many medical students to create a special housing area for them. ASU doesn't have room for dorms at the Summerville location, so I'm assuming they are the ones projected to live at the Mill campus and as I said, their numbers have been decreasing due to all the extension colleges popping up in the area and the internet. So I'm still not sure what the 1 billion will be for?

corgimom
19634
Points
corgimom 06/10/13 - 04:55 pm
1
0

I wonder if anyone is looking

I wonder if anyone is looking at the predicted future of universities- which is that on-campus demand for classes will decrease, due to more online classes.

As for that mill property, I wouldn't allow any child of mine to live there- that property is contaminated, and always will be, and unsafe to live in. Go to GRU, die of mesothelioma. Hey, why not?

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/10/13 - 06:21 pm
1
2

growth

The Riverwalk is under the control of the city of Augusta. The Cultural/Mills campuses include the city, GRU, non-profits, Artspace, Georgia Power, renovated Miller, peforming arts center, private sector, and local philantropist. I don't understand how anybody can expect the city to provide law enforcement, maintenace(i.e. Riverwalk). etc without bringing in new residents, businesses, revenue, etc.... How can you expect convince the future leaders, entrepenuers, etc to stay here after highschool without visionary ideas like this one?

Riverman1
70943
Points
Riverman1 06/10/13 - 07:17 pm
1
0

Head Scratching

I believe GRU is asking exactly how they can use the property. They already have three large campuses with hundreds of millions invested. So the only thing they could possibly use the land for is housing. ASU has lost students the last few years and is primarily a commuter school with few resident students. They already have a new student housing complex. MCG has relatively few students although they do intend to increase the number by a couple of hundred over the years. The residency programs are spread over the state and don’t affect Augusta.

So I again, I ask, who is going to live in the housing? For the few students who may want to live there, the cost benefit to the state is simply insane. The truth is it is better for ASU to branch out over the city from their current campus slowly with a building at a time over the years.

Gage Creed
12708
Points
Gage Creed 06/10/13 - 07:33 pm
1
0

Visionary Idea....Port

Visionary Idea....Port Royal
Visionary Idea....Tee Center
Visionary Idea....GGHOF
Visionary Idea....Downtown Stadium
Visionary Idea....Bio-Fuel plant in South Augusta
Visionary Idea....Regency Mall
Visionary Idea....Consolidation
Visionary Idea....You get the idea

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/10/13 - 10:45 pm
1
1

Mills campus

The new residency slots do affect the city of Augusta..

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/2013-05-14/ga-hospitals-lin...

''The number of hospitals willing to hire and instruct medical residents is growing, putting the state on the way to meeting its goal of 400 new positions, a Board of Regents committee learned Tuesday. The goal is to have more opportunities for newly graduated physicians at the expanded Georgia Regents University in Augusta and at the campus shared with the University of Georgia in Athens. ''

The idea for the Mills campus is housing, educational space, and commercial developments..

''Reborn as the Mills Campus, the warehouses would house wide-open offices walled with glass, exposed ductwork and walkways that snake around colossal coal furnaces. Cafés, hotels, retail outlets and a solar farm would possibly be built around the warehouses to help leverage investment, increase population, attract business, reduce real estate vacancy and generate tax revenues to further growth.''

The ASU main campus has lost population the last three years, but only by a couple of hundred students.. The University Village opened eight years ago, and that's not considered brand new...

countyman
16899
Points
countyman 06/10/13 - 10:51 pm
1
1

Visionary

I can't believe anybody would consider a normal convention center(something almost every small to large city has) visionary.. This building should have been open years ago, and it's not out of the box thinking.. Regular malls which exist across the US are not visionary either.

I won't even mention the state opening a botanical garden with nothing else to attract people.

The downtown stadium was visionary, and would do more for the CSRA if the project happen in downtown Augusta. Millions of more tourist visit downtown Augusta compared to North Augusta each year. The Augusta side of the river had Jim Jacoby involved, and he wanting to create a mixed-use project(developer of Atlantic Station).

Riverman1
70943
Points
Riverman1 06/11/13 - 04:07 am
0
0

No Demand for Student Housing

Countyman, the residency slots are in hospitals all over the state. The idea is physicians who train at a location tend to stay there. The goal is to keep physicians in state.

As far as the University dorms, 8 years is certainly not a long time. I hope you don't think they are obsolete at 8 years.

The point is there is no demand for student housing because there are not enough students. Fix that problem before building more.

Gage Creed
12708
Points
Gage Creed 06/11/13 - 07:45 pm
0
0

Satire is lost on

Satire is lost on some.....millions of more some.... and he wanting!

Back to Top

Loading...