Redeveloping mills top priority for mayor's final 18 months

Monday, June 17, 2013 5:51 PM
Last updated 10:27 PM
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Augusta’s economic future hinges largely on possible redevelopment of Sibley and King mills to support expansion of Georgia Regents University, the city’s mayor said Monday.

At a Kiwanis Club of Augusta meeting, Mayor Deke Copenhaver laid out his top priority for the remainder of his term that expires at the end of 2014.

Converting the former mills into a campus for the university will attract more students, and that growth will drive the local economy, he said.

The mayor told the group he’s adding pressure to move the project forward before he leaves office. “I believe we are at that tipping point and I believe we can get there. I want to leave enough on the ground that bad politics can’t destroy that,” the mayor said.

The mills campuses have received strong support from the Augusta Commission.

“I’ve always wanted to find something in Augusta we can all rally around. To this point, the support has been unanimous at all levels,” he said.

At the end of May, the commission authorized spending $300,000 and use of 1735 Goodrich St., to continue studies and collect environmental data on the mills properties before attracting redevelopment partners and further funding.

Copenhaver also wants to focus on undeveloped land fronting the Savannah River and creating a cultural campus to link the Miller and Imperial theatres with a possible performing arts center on the city depot property on Reynolds Street.

During his tenure, Copenhaver said the city’s economy was supported by major projects including the expansion of Plant Vogtle, the NSA facility at Fort Gordon and the under-construction Starbucks plant. The mills and cultural campuses would maximize the economic growth of the industrial and government sectors, he said.

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Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 06:38 pm
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He's got to be kidding!

From the story:

Copenhaver also wants to focus on . . . creating a cultural campus to link the Miller and Imperial theatres with a possible performing arts center on the city depot property on Reynolds Street.

Excuse me, but the Imperial Theatre is already a performing arts center. Likewise, Symphony Orchestra Augusta is raising money as fast as they can to latch on the many millions of dollars of matching SPLOST dollars to totally redesign the Miller Theatre into a performing arts theatre. If the city uses tax dollars to build a new one on the depot property, it will kill the Imperial and the Miller.

Copenhaver's performing arts theatre idea is wacky. There is no need. Augusta is covered up with performing arts venues from Aiken to Augusta to Evans. Lighten up, Deke. There are roads & bridges we need worse than another stage.

Gage Creed
16818
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Gage Creed 06/17/13 - 08:52 pm
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Follow the money...

Follow the money... "Augusta’s economic future hinges largely on possible redevelopment of Sibley and King mills to support expansion of Georgia Regents University, the city’s mayor said Monday"

countyman
19754
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countyman 06/17/13 - 09:00 pm
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Augusta moving ahead

Little Lamb. I don't understand how you're against everything the city wants to do in order to improve things. Then you expect them to have enoug money to pay for roads, bridges, etc. The city needs to attract new residents, jobs, industry, etc. You can't attract those things by doing nothing. TSplost will repair a lot of the current infrastructure over the next few years.

The metro area does not have a true performing arts center here. Columbus ga has a smaller county and metro population, but spent $100 million on their performing arts center downtown. The renovation of the Miller is a nice addition to forming a complete entertainment district, but its too small to become our performing arts center

showboat
330
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showboat 06/17/13 - 09:06 pm
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DEKE IS LOOKING FOR A JOB
Unpublished

DEKE IS LOOKING FOR A JOB ATGRU!!!!!!

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 09:28 pm
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Columbus

The Columbus fine arts center (named after philanthropist businessman Bill Heard) was financed entirely by private funds. If Augusta will follow suit, I will be a cheerleader. If taxpayer funds are in the forefront, I will say, “Booo!

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 09:36 pm
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2
Copenhaver also wants to focus on . . .

What Copenhaver needs to focus on is how the city is going to raise the money to cover Riverfront LLC's exorbitant expenses of operating the TEE Center and the Marriott parking deck.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 09:39 pm
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Grande

Countyman posted:

The metro area does not have a true performing arts center here.

For people here with Dom Perignon tastes, nothing that's done will ever be big enough, or grand enough, or glitzy enough.

GnipGnop
11935
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GnipGnop 06/17/13 - 10:31 pm
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2
I heard today that the Tattoo

convention was a bust...only around 300 people and they were begging local artists to set up for free....

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 11:11 pm
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Performing Arts

Let us recall once again where there are performing arts venues already established in the CSRA:

Etheridge Center at USC-Aiken

Lambeth Chapel at Paine College

Jessye Norman Amphitheater at Riverwalk

The little outdoor jazz stage also at Riverwalk

St. Paul Episcopal Church sanctuary at Riverwalk

Miller Theatre (under construction) on Broad St.

Imperial Theatre on Broad St.

Bell Auditorium downtown

James Brown Arena downtown

Le Chat Noir downtown

Augusta Mini-Theater in mid-town

Kroc Center Stage in Harrisburg

Maxwell Performing Arts Theater at Grooo (Summerville Campus)

First Baptist Church sanctuary in west Augusta

Fort Gordon Theater in west Augusta

Jabez Harbin Auditorium in Evans

Columbia County Amphitheater in Evans

Lady Antebellum Pavilion in Evans

Diamond Lakes Auditorium in south Augusta

So many venues; so many locations; so much variety. We don't need another one anytime soon!

triscuit
2997
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triscuit 06/17/13 - 10:58 pm
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1
The only Performing Arts

The only Performing Arts center we now need is a new Civic Center. Imperial, Miller, Kroc Center, Bell, etc., etc. we have enough smaller venues.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 11:10 pm
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WOW!

Triscuit, I totally forgot to include those two venues in my list. I'm going back to edit it. Thanks for reminding me.

countyman
19754
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countyman 06/18/13 - 12:43 am
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Public/Private accomplishment

The River Center in downtown Columbus GA was built with an public/private partnership. This is the best route to go until you can rely on the private developers more often. The new arena, redevelopment of the Regency Mall, and mixed use development in South Augusta(along Peach Orchard btw Tobacco/Hwy 88, near Augusta Regional, or on Mike Padgett btw Tobacco/Brown) should be future public/private ventures.
http://www.rivercenter.org/FacilitiesPage1RCPA.htm

The Augusta Mini Theater is located in the inner city/South Augusta, and focuses on younger at risk kids. Midtown is the growing area with the new residential, doctors office, etc near Summerville along parts of Central, Wrightsboro, etc.

While people can't say Augusta is the second largest city anymore. Columbus is consolidated with the entire county, and recently passed Augusta in the 2012 estimate. Cities populations don't mean anything in 2013 anyway, and Richmond County is larger compared to Muscogee(Columbus). Augusta is the second largest metro and urban area in terms of population(Savannah raked third in both categories). The population of Richmond, Aiken, & Columbia is bigger than both metro Columbus and Macon. The James Brown arena needs to be demolished once the new arena with over 15-17k seats opens.

The smaller existing facilities and James Brown arena don't accurately reflect a metro of 575k and CSRA over 700k people.

Young Fred
16807
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Young Fred 06/18/13 - 01:09 am
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1
My ent

Doc is in a refurbed mill. Nice I must say. I'm not going downtown to a rundown ghetto hood.

Call me what you may, I refuse to do business in a place that doesen't inspire confidence.

thauch12
6489
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thauch12 06/18/13 - 02:44 am
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I can't fault Deke for being

I can't fault Deke for being a dreamer. Redeveloping those two mills may be the key to elevating GRU to the comprehensive research university that the Board of Regents intends it to be (one day to be on par with Georgia Tech/UGA) and I fully support that. Then again, in today's economic climate that may be a tall task...especially considering the "liberal arts" component they're starting with at the former community college ASU.

I think the performing arts center bit may have just been some speech filler. There isn't the need, desire or the money to build such a structure...at least not in today's Augusta.

countyman
19754
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countyman 06/18/13 - 03:18 am
2
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Harrisburg=up & coming

The Kroc Center had almost 8,000 members, and over 600 people were coming into Harrisburg everyday as of August 2012. Now the Cook Out(first metro location) restaurant is underway at Walton Way/Crawford. The Cook Out will become a popular hangout for the Medical District/Paine College crowd.

The side of Harrisbug facing the Summerville neighborhood is full of manicured lawns and nice homes. The Mills campus, Kroc Center, redeveloped bus terminal, renovated Martha Lester school, MCG Foundation properties, demolished/redeveloped Kroger shopping center, and the commercial development near Kroger will forever change the Harrisburg neighborhood, Richmond County, and the CSRA. The Broad street area of Harrisburg would feature a bookstore, restaurant, etc. People are moving back into the urban core across the US, and it's already taking place here on a smaller scale compared to larger cities. It makes sense to live next to a bus station/stop, light rail/streetcar, or within walking/biking distance of work, grocery store, retail stores, etc.

countyman
19754
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countyman 06/18/13 - 03:17 am
2
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Augusta is big on the ARTS!

The majority of people living in Augusta would support a new performing arts center. This is the city of the Westobou, Arts in the Heart, Artist Row on Broad, and managed to attract Artspace for a new mixed use development.

First Saturday(city of Augusta, local companies, business owners, etc)needs to be created and become the family, arts, etc monthly event downtown. The event could run from 12 noon to 5pm/6pm since the market dnds at 2 pm. Our leaders must start to use the Augusta Common and especially the amphitheater on the Riverwalk more often.

Riverman1
82451
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Riverman1 06/18/13 - 05:04 am
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Not Enough Need for Mills Campuses

I've stated in detail previously there are simply not enough students or needs to develop the mills campuses. ASU built student housing only 8 years ago. The student population has decreased. The Summerville campus has had lots of construction. The logical plan is for the college to slowly move out over the city from its campus as the need for more space comes.

Riverman1
82451
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Riverman1 06/18/13 - 05:05 am
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"The Cook Out will become a

"The Cook Out will become a popular hangout for the Medical District/Paine College crowd."

Oh, yeah, I can see them all sitting down together eating hamburgers.

soapy_725
43676
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soapy_725 06/18/13 - 07:25 am
1
0
ARC did not build the Boardman-Copenhaver Stadium and
Unpublished

Mixed Use Entertainment Complex for Deke. He must have a "cathedral" built to his name for his future political plans outside of ARC. Old mills are being converted to loft apartments all over. It is done with private, for profit investment. In ARC everything must be "government sponsored and funded". WHY? Government money is free for the taking. ARC voters line up for Mr. Ben Dover.

If you were mayor of a government entitlement town and your family was in the construction/development business, what would your vision look like?

seenitB4
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seenitB4 06/18/13 - 09:10 am
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2
Wow..ya kidding me...right?

It makes sense to live next to a bus station/stop, light rail/streetcar,

Never --ever have I heard someone say that... esp bus station.

countyman
19754
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countyman 06/18/13 - 09:54 am
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Moving ahead

Seenitb4... Probably due to the fact you don't associated with many people who live in the urban areas of larger cities.

The comments in relation to anytime the city wants to improve the entire county. They prove why tons of young people leave this city right after high school. The majority of people don't want to stay home all day being afraid of their shadows, and want to have fun. The only suburban area who can really attract white collar office jobs outside of downtown is West Augusta. The fact remains certain types of companies want to be located in urban areas.

The funny thing is the same people love to mention how bad Augusta is, but don't want any major changes. The people under the age of 40 desperately need to become more active, because some people seem to think all of these new companies, businesses, etc flock to cities who do nothing to improve the quality of life.

countyman
19754
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countyman 06/18/13 - 10:48 am
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Moving ahead

The student population of ASU just started to decline over the last two/three year(only down a few hundred)and GRU plans to increase the population by 2020... The logical answer is that young people want 'campus life', and GRU doesn't have a real campus yet. The Summerville campus can't really grow anymore, and is not a true college atmosphere. College students don't want to live all over the city, but in select locations. This is why many live in Summerville, CBD, OldeTown, etc.

The Mills campus is more than student housing, and University Village is no comparison. There's more than enough room for educational and commercial space. The private sector building the solar farm and paying the city rent shows the private sector interest. I don't see Georgia Power, private companies, non profits, etc with interest in the University Village. The proposal wouldn't have even made it this far unless the Governor, Chancellor, Board of Regents, etc saw the potential.

I think somebody needs to do their research before they make sarcastic remarks. They put the Cookout in that location, because they always tend to attract tons of students for example. I don't understand the daily sarcastic remarks about Richmond especially when somebody makes comments like the light rail terminal should open along I-20 in Columbia County. The same county with the lowest population, tourism, and jobs in metro Augusta among the big three counties. Who visit Columbia County for a business trip lol or for vacation?

The same people are pessimestic in terms of anything related to Augusta, and I remember when they said the Kroc Center would never attract suburban moms, middle class families, etc...

seenitB4
85836
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seenitB4 06/18/13 - 11:11 am
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Really countyman??

Seenitb4... Probably due to the fact you don't associated with many people who live in the urban areas of larger cities.

I live right next to the BIIIG city...Atlanta Ga.....I have my fill of city lights even more than you probably.....

What you want & what is the real world are 2 different things......Augusta is NOT Atlanta & never will be...sorry...don't mean to bust your bubble but it just ain't happening.....& that is not a bad thing either..

When the posters say what they are missing in Augusta...welll some seem to turn a deaf ear....and then they leave.......the oldies are the very people paying the bills for the city......owners of property & etc....I wouldn't poopoo them away.....it is nice to have young students in the midst but please remember ctyman..they are NOT the backbone of paying citizens..

seenitB4
85836
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seenitB4 06/18/13 - 11:18 am
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1
And with this...

"The city needs to attract new residents, jobs, industry, etc. You can't attract those things by doing nothing."

YOU have to pay for these things ctyman....with TAX dollars.....please buy property & taste the tax bite!!

countyman
19754
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countyman 06/18/13 - 12:09 pm
1
3
Moving ahead

Seenitb4.. You live all the way out in Gwinnett, and not inside the perimeter. The moving people into Gwinnett are looking for typical suburbia.

When did I say Augusta will become Atlanta? The funny thing is Atlanta is not even a poster child for urban renewal/city life compared to San Francisco, DC, Boston Philly, NYC, etc. All of the trends suggest people at moving back into the urban core from small to large cities.

The majority of people are under the age of 50 in Augusta, and the city needs them because they tend to go out more which equals higher revenue.

The city doesn't have to pay for residents, jobs, or industry. All of those will come here with progressive ideas.

People who are in the age range between 18-30 constantly tell us what the city of augusta needs. A water park, zoo, aquarium, large arcade, amusement park, etc. they would be happy if we could get a Ferris wheel downtown or at the Regency Mall. These people represent the future leaders of tomorrow and move on to larger cities.

seenitB4
85836
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seenitB4 06/18/13 - 12:19 pm
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countyman please don't misread me

I want to see Augusta prosper but don't poopoo the older folks in that town.....they pay the bills......I would love to see Regency Mall area made into something fantastic & also some ideas in downtown come to life....... you will have to change the perception & I hope Rtree can do just that....I REALLY do.....think how much money could be saved if the crime was cut in half......gotta go now.....you want the best for the CSRA.......many others do too.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 06/18/13 - 01:27 pm
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Exception

CMan, don't let your animosity toward the success of surrounding area/towns skew your perspective on the city of Augusta. You want to know the number one thing that deters a person from CC from traveling to Augusta? The notion that the ARC people don't care for the CC people. The direction you took here:

"Who visit Columbia County for a business trip lol or for vacation? "

suggests you are harboring some feelings toward CC? Or maybe it's your strategy to downplay the prosperity CC has observed for so long. In this manner you can elevate ARC with virtually no effort b/c you are "lowering the bar".

My suggestion is to stick with actual historical events/development. You always bring them up anyway and at least it's consistent. Don't presume to know soooo much about CC and you'll earn more credibility.

corgimom
31535
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corgimom 06/18/13 - 04:03 pm
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There used to be a water park

There used to be a water park in CC. It failed. It was supposedly a sure thing, that people "wanted". When you have a river and a huge lake nearby, you aren't going to pay to go to a water park.

As for "expanding the campus", the trend now is for on-campus enrollment to decline, due to the increased emphasis for on-line classes.

Everytime that tuition goes up, you knock more people out of the pool of potential college students. But hey, Augusta is used to short-sighted plans that are always promoted to be the Next Best Thing, this is just the next one in line.

A large arcade? Why would anyone need to go to an arcade when they have high-tech video games at home? There have been several in Augusta, they have a life of about 2-5 years, then they fold. And they are mostly populated by teenagers, which drives away the young adults.

corgimom
31535
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corgimom 06/18/13 - 04:07 pm
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In my experience, the most

In my experience, the most popular place for medical students in Augusta to hang out was the Recovery Room. Medical students don't care about hanging out in a restaurant. They come, they eat, they leave. There are already more restaurants in Augusta than Carter has liver pills, you don't see medical students hanging out in them.

thauch12
6489
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thauch12 06/18/13 - 05:01 pm
2
2
I think it would be

I think it would be beneficial for the majority of the above people to see what an ACTUAL residential college campus looks like (aka NOT ASU's "university village"). And no going to UGA on game day does not count.

For the vision of GRU as a top-notch, respected research university to actually come together, a true campus is needed and as of now, the proposal to redevelop the mills is the best idea I have seen.

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