The future is on the way

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A lot of folks are wondering today why it took so long to approve the trade, exhibit and event center.

In a few years, they'll probably be wondering how we ever got along without it.

But thanks to overwhelming Augusta Commission approval on Monday -- and the hard work and infinite patience of a number of local supporters and out-of-town investors -- Augusta will finally have a riverfront exhibition center worthy of Georgia's second-largest city.

The project will create $110.5 million in construction and even redevelopment activity downtown: $38 million for the TEE center; $37.5 million for redevelopment in the Laney Walker/Bethlehem areas of downtown; $10 million for a new parking deck; and a new $25 million Hyatt Regency hotel across the street from the new TEE center.

The TEE center is funded in large part through already-allocated special-purpose local option sales taxes -- and much of the rest will be financed with a recent $1-a-night hotel room fee.

The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce says the project will create 630 new jobs and will lead to an annual $1.4 million in new tax revenues and an overall $25 million economic impact.

As we've already heard from excited business owners, activity at the TEE center site -- both construction of it starting next spring and once it's open in 2012 -- will help fill area restaurants and other downtown shops.

The likely result is that the Augusta area, which wasn't as hard-hit by the recession as most metro areas in the country, could come roaring back next year. Most areas of the nation would no doubt love to be where Augusta has just put itself.

Some tried to argue during these long months of deliberation that the new economy won't support such facilities. Nonsense. People have gathered together in groups since the dawn of man. Not even the mother of all recessions will change that. Conferences, trade shows and exhibitions will go on for as long as mankind.

Some also questioned the location -- though we're not sure why. Every expert consulted concluded the TEE center needed to be near the river and as close as possible to hotel rooms. Anyone who's ever been to an out-of-town confab knows conferees want meeting and exhibit space that's a short, indoor walk away from the elevators to one's sleeping quarters.

Nor was any existing building in the city amenable to the large shows and exhibits that have been bypassing Augusta for decades for lack of suitable space. They've been patronizing our competitors on either side of the river. Now Augusta will get in the game.

In retrospect, it's amazing this community took this long to do it. But the deed is done, and the future is on the way.

Are the TEE center and all its accompaniments the solution to all our problems? Of course not. It's just a start -- a huge start -- toward realizing our potential as a community.

We will never do that if we expect to be able to sit back and let outside investors carry the load. Augusta needed to invest in itself -- and now it has, albeit in an ingenious way that goes easy on taxpayers through a partnership of public-and-private, resident-and-guest funding mechanisms.

"I'm a happy, happy, happy, happy camper," said local restaurant owner Bryan Mitchell, who can see the extra foot traffic coming from miles off.

Lots of folks deserve to have their hands on the scissors when the ribbon is cut on the TEE center, not the least of which is Mayor Deke Copenhaver, whose calm and patient determination helped a sharply divided Augusta Commission come together in near-unanimity this week after months of difficulty.

It's a new day in Augusta, which will soon begin work on its future.

Comments (43) Add comment
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keysandlocks
0
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keysandlocks 12/09/09 - 02:50 am
0
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Somehow, I can not help but

Somehow, I can not help but wonder what the AC's comments will be 10 years in the future.

concernednative
28
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concernednative 12/09/09 - 03:28 am
0
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Pick up a phone call all TEE

Pick up a phone call all TEE centers and hotels in cities similar to the size of Augusta and see if they are booked. They would probably accomodate a large convention this weekend if you needed them to. No demand= idol TEE center=waste of taypayer money. Augusta would have been off given Morris, Boardman and the others $50 million in cash. It would have gotten them through these times and saved the city $150 million.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 12/09/09 - 04:52 am
0
0
The economy will come roaring

The economy will come roaring back next year? That's just silly. Until the threat of huge tax increases and numerous economic shackles are removed from our small businesses, nothing is going to happen. Remove control of congress from the socialist neo-Dems and get this economy going again. Vote in 2010. Then, and only then, will the economy make a comeback.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/09/09 - 05:12 am
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i really don't see how thhis

i really don't see how thhis $100 million dollar "deal" is any different than our President's plan to uh.. 'spend our way out of a downturn'

Riverman1
94219
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Riverman1 12/09/09 - 05:54 am
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The most foolish thing I've

The most foolish thing I've seen in an editorial in a long time is this: 'Some tried to argue during these long months of deliberation that the new economy won't support such facilities. Nonsense. People have gathered together in groups since the dawn of man. Not even the mother of all recessions will change that. Conferences, trade shows and exhibitions will go on for as long as mankind.' That is an authoritarian statement that sounds like it came from the Bible or something. If that's the kind of reasoning used to counter concerns about the economy and business downtown, I know we are in trouble with this $110 million dollar gamble.

Riverman1
94219
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Riverman1 12/09/09 - 05:58 am
0
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A few facts and not

A few facts and not authoritarian unsubstantiated statements such as "people have gathered in groups sine the dawn of man." (that still has me laughing). The stated $110 million scares the heck out of me for a city this size. Saying we are the second largest city is actually not necessarily the truth. We are a consolidated city-county government with a large metro area that is largely based on another city, Aiken&#0133.The Chamber of Commerce study is seriously flawed according to the Brookings Inst scholar, Dr. Sanders, quoted in the Chronicle today. Are we really going to mortgage the future of Augusta on this foolish bet?

Riverman1
94219
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Riverman1 12/09/09 - 06:05 am
0
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"Anyone who's ever been to an

"Anyone who's ever been to an out-of-town confab knows conferees want meeting and exhibit space that's a short, indoor walk away from the elevators to one's sleeping quarters."...So the truth is starting to come out. This is all about benefiting ONE HOTEL. What about the hotel complex that has sprung up on Stevens Creek Rd with luxury hotels? Don't they deserve a little help too?

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/09/09 - 06:14 am
0
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i think its in Leviticus

i think its in Leviticus somewhere Riverman

Riverman1
94219
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Riverman1 12/09/09 - 06:27 am
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Omnomnom, definitely from the

Omnomnom, definitely from the Old Testament. LOL

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/09/09 - 06:40 am
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lol

lol

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 12/09/09 - 07:25 am
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Interesting to note that Mr.

Interesting to note that Mr. Sanders, who has never visited Augusta, couldn't be specific in his criticism of Augusta's expanded Trade & Exhibit Center -- I'm glad the Hyatt Hotel group doesn't take him seriously -- Hyatt is committing $25 million of its own money to build a new hotel close to our TEE Center --and predicts a $215 MILLION 25 year economic impact from the new hotel alone --over $800,000 collected in new taxes the first year --I know the critics of Augusta doesn't like hearing this but Augusta is a unique destination for tourists, convention groups and others interested in a combination of historical assets going back to the beginning of man, a great arts community, a beautiful riverfront setting that many cities would die for, and is the epic-center of a dynamic trade area -- anyone interested in being educated should study the Greater Augusta history and research why the Masters, Futurity, the recent Ironman and other venues have brought so much economic activity to Augusta -- might be a little enlightening to you.

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 12/09/09 - 07:33 am
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Another interesting point --

Another interesting point -- it doesn't require any knowledge or expertise to criticize -- and there is no risk of being wrong -- on the other hand supporting anything is a bit risky because it usually requires facts and a little research -- but the real challenge is to get behind something and make it work -- might require getting up out of that ez chair and actually doing a little sweating -- think about it.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/09/09 - 07:55 am
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wiz, as that last statement

wiz, as that last statement contains no speculation as to the fabled profits of this storied hotel that is to grace Augusta with its glorious presence, i think I'll agree with it.

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 12/09/09 - 08:02 am
0
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The interesting thing about

The interesting thing about the free enterprise system is that everyone has the right to fail --profits are never guaranteed and even in the most successful enterprise represent a relative small percentage of gross revenues --anyone who does a detailed and comprehensive proforma on a proposed business project has to question himself as to the risk involved vs the potential profits -- every venture can go either way -- and I've been on both sides.

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 12/09/09 - 08:12 am
0
0
wiz, the man said he did not

wiz, the man said he did not have the data in front of him so he could not answer AT THAT MOMENT on the phone. Tell the whole truth why don't you? That is the problem with you folks who are going to profit of this directly, you care NOTHING about the tax payer and it is all about you getting your money. This is just like the 'cehrry picked' intelligence used to satrt the Iraq War. It is flawed and based not on the entire set of facts, just the ones that support your own argument. By the way, can you show me one town that this has worked in in the past two years? Ten year old data is not useful given the past years economic downturn of the ENTIRE world (except India who has grown at a staggering %8 a year). I hope you all like the taste and smell of this load of bovine feces because you will be eating it for 50 years.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 12/09/09 - 08:13 am
0
0
The cartoon should have been

The cartoon should have been the COPENHAVER conference on "Its a hot time in old Disgusta tonight. People with lots of money always find a way to make more at the expense of the weak minded. The Deekster is scheduled to be on OPRAH to tell of his "Rise to Power" which is in the hands of the publishers as we speak. The movie will follow with Boob Young playing the part of the mayor in a small Georgia Dukedom.

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 12/09/09 - 08:21 am
0
0
wiz, the man said he did not

wiz, the man said he did not have the data in front of him so he could not answer AT THAT MOMENT on the phone. Tell the whole truth why don't you? That is the problem with you folks who are going to profit of this directly, you care NOTHING about the tax payer and it is all about you getting your money. This is just like the 'cehrry picked' intelligence used to satrt the Iraq War. It is flawed and based not on the entire set of facts, just the ones that support your own argument. By the way, can you show me one town that this has worked in in the past two years? Ten year old data is not useful given the past years economic downturn of the ENTIRE world (except India who has grown at a staggering %8 a year). I hope you all like the taste and smell of this load of bovine feces because you will be eating it for 50 years.

Brad Owens
4914
Points
Brad Owens 12/09/09 - 08:21 am
0
0
wiz, the man said he did not

wiz, the man said he did not have the data in front of him so he could not answer AT THAT MOMENT on the phone. Tell the whole truth why don't you? That is the problem with you folks who are going to profit of this directly, you care NOTHING about the tax payer and it is all about you getting your money. This is just like the 'cehrry picked' intelligence used to satrt the Iraq War. It is flawed and based not on the entire set of facts, just the ones that support your own argument. By the way, can you show me one town that this has worked in in the past two years? Ten year old data is not useful given the past years economic downturn of the ENTIRE world (except India who has grown at a staggering %8 a year). I hope you all like the taste and smell of this load of bovine feces because you will be eating it for 50 years.

deekster
24
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deekster 12/09/09 - 08:24 am
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The future is on the way for

The future is on the way for Augusta. Massive high rise luxury condos overlooking the river. High End shoppe's line the river walk. Broad St. has been renamed "Rodeo Drive South. Strolling minstrels entertain the "vast crowds" of world wide tourist and locals. A permanent "amusement park" with the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. Double Decker electric trolleys weave in and out of traffic. Peace and tranquility abound as large numbers of security troops patrol this mecca called "Billy World".

RIPAmerica
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RIPAmerica 12/09/09 - 08:29 am
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Odd so many people are

Odd so many people are voicing objections to $38M for the TEE yet no one seems a bit concerned about $37.5M for the LW/B bribery. If you are so dead set against the plan, here's some tips for you: Don't stay in any hotels in Augusta and don't shop in Richmond County. Guess what, you won't pay a dime of YOUR money for this project.

austinevans
0
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austinevans 12/09/09 - 08:29 am
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Chronicle Staff, i usually

Chronicle Staff, i usually agree with you, but youmissed the mark on this one!! Guess you have to tho, Billy owning the paper and all!.

JacquesUlar
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JacquesUlar 12/09/09 - 08:38 am
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Brad, we got your opinion,

Brad, we got your opinion, okay?

austinevans
0
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austinevans 12/09/09 - 08:40 am
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Rip, review my posts! I am

Rip, review my posts! I am with you 100% and that little project has NOT been VOTED on by the CITIZENRY!!!

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 12/09/09 - 08:46 am
0
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It is always interesting to

It is always interesting to hear from Bob Smith, Howdy Doody & the Peanut gallery --Brad, your mind-set is that the world is flat & the sun circles the earth -- I do not have the data in front of me to disprove it -- but you are as wrong about economic development as you would be about the other --if you think buying a piece of property, donating part of it to the city for the Augusta Common and paying taxes and insurance on it for over 10 years is a great profit venture then you'd best go pray over the graves of the victims killed by Sadam Hussain's weapons of mass destruction that killed them -- but it is too bad Bush followed Clinton's recommendation -- but it may have just prevented another 9-11---but who cares about that

austinevans
0
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austinevans 12/09/09 - 08:48 am
0
0
Come on Chronicle, be

Come on Chronicle, be up-front, WHY did the commission come together in "NEAR-UNAMINITY" this time????

RIPAmerica
0
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RIPAmerica 12/09/09 - 08:58 am
0
0
Yes Austin, I know we're

Yes Austin, I know we're singing from the same hymnal.

austinevans
0
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austinevans 12/09/09 - 09:37 am
0
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Mike Ryan, waiting on your

Mike Ryan, waiting on your comment with the data to support this editorial!

oh man
0
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oh man 12/09/09 - 09:45 am
0
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Augusta has been spending to

Augusta has been spending to revitatize forever but nothing seems to make a difference; but the politicis remain the same.

justus4
113
Points
justus4 12/09/09 - 09:59 am
0
0
What construction company
Unpublished

What construction company associated with what commissioners are going to benefit? Where is the investigation to determine conflict of interests? Lets say a minority elected official owned a plumbing company and he voted to supported the building of a underground piping operations for city-wide use, guess who would be printing stories of possible benefits to the minority elected official - who happens to own a plumbing business. He would be questioned to death about possible benefits for his vote, but in this TEE case, NOTHING! Not even a suggestion...this charade is transparent to some, others are being dishonest.

imdstuf
10
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imdstuf 12/09/09 - 10:06 am
0
0
Wiz, did the Augusta Golf

Wiz, did the Augusta Golf Hall of Fame or Krystal River bring in tourists from far and wide? Do our museums and Fort Discovery bring in thousands of visitors from outside of the CSRA? Oh, and if even if we were a destination spot, do you think people won't notice they have to take connector flights just to get here.

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