A recipe for success

Augusta riverfront property is brimming with opportunity

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Masters Tournament visitors might be surprised to see so much undeveloped and underdeveloped land along Augusta’s riverfront downtown.

Join the club. We’re just as surprised.

One of the centerpieces of our riverscape was to be a lush, pastoral Golf and Gardens and Georgia Golf Hall of Fame along Reynolds Street that would’ve paid tribute to this city’s abiding kinship with the revered sport. The roots for it were planted, and it began to grow, but as with many grand plans, economic
caprice stepped in.

But what an incredible opportunity the land still presents. It has to be one of the most prime riverfront plots available east of the Mississippi.

Suddenly, after years of allowing nature to take over the site, destiny has taken a hand.

The Georgia General Assembly, which controls the 16-acre parcel, last week agreed to turn the land over to the University System of Georgia – just as Augusta’s Georgia Health Sciences University is set to merge with Augusta State University.

GHSU President Ricardo Azziz, who will head up the combined university, is as visionary a leader as you could ask for, and he has no shortage of ideas for the site. At a recent meeting with local officials and others, Azziz talked of “innovative, creative things: a performing arts center that dovetails with a school of music; an innovation center that dovetails with the sciences; some higher-level student housing that is very attractive ...” A biotech park also has been bandied about.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver also has supported a multi-use
stadium that would be a new home to the Augusta Greenjackets minor league baseball team as well as other events. Thus far, Azziz seems open to the possibility that a stadium could be part of the mix.

This newspaper remains adamantly opposed to that, particularly if high-end student housing is a component. As young and energetic as they are, even students need sleep – particularly medical students, it seems to us.

It’s amusing now to recall that Azziz last year created such a controversy with a throw-away remark at a Rotary meeting about how Augusta needs to be “cool” to be attractive to GHSU students and faculty. Of course he was right. And now, with impending sway over the former Golf and Gardens land, Azziz may have the power at his fingertips to make that happen.

Certainly, a greater collegiate presence downtown would go a long way toward that. Having more students live, work, eat, play and liven up downtown could further energize the local economy and climate.

We would simply urge Dr. Azziz and others involved to keep in mind that, with great power – and a pregnant plot of land – comes great responsibility. The most important ingredient in whatever is cooked up on the river may be the most intangible: What is this precious land’s highest and best use?

We hope the community will be deeply involved in finding just the right recipe.

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Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 04/01/12 - 02:55 am
1
1
How 'bout first-class

How 'bout first-class educational facilties and a world-class medical research park in tandem in a beautiful riverfront setting?

By the way, does anyone else remember Billy's plans (really Paul's, as we all have figured) to develop on the river a baseball stadium in conjunction with a hotel and office building and to sell the complex to Japanese investors? Billy's ambitious plans ran aground on the Nipponese economic meltdown of the late 20th century. This time, they'll run aground on Rick Azziz, GHSU's indomitable and prospectively-oriented president. I think that's "cool."

Riverman1
79316
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Riverman1 04/01/12 - 07:56 am
1
0
I've been pointing out for a

I've been pointing out for a long time that ASU (and now GHSU) expansion was the way to rejuvenate the downtown area. I saw how the College of Charleston affected that city in a positive was as they hopscotched over the urban area. This is THE opportunity.

To Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman and the others who are still pushing for a stadium by claiming the college could use it too as Dr. Azziz has inferred football is a possibility... Let me remind everyone no self-respecting college football team plays games in a stadium shared with baseball. It's smalltime and tacky.

allhans
23240
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allhans 04/01/12 - 08:44 am
1
0
Ditto, Riverman.

Ditto, Riverman.

faithson
4784
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faithson 04/01/12 - 10:22 am
0
0
Ditto, Riverman

Ditto, Riverman

Jake
31665
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Jake 04/01/12 - 10:55 am
3
0
If not football in a stadium,

If not football in a stadium, how about women's beach volleyball?

deadline
0
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deadline 04/01/12 - 11:45 am
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0
I think ASU/GHSU should open

I think ASU/GHSU should open some dorms downtown. Create a mixed living/commercial downtown.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 04/01/12 - 01:47 pm
0
0
Reynolds Street as a canal?
Unpublished

Reynolds Street as a canal? Gondolas from Laney- Walker to the Mighty Savannah? Mr. Copenhaver....tear down this levee!

socks99
250
Points
socks99 04/01/12 - 02:45 pm
0
0
Keep in mind that

Keep in mind that leisure-time attractions like ball parks may underperform as the economy transitions back towards a sustainable model. On the other hand, the housing bust has big financiers eager to broker new deals between borrowers and lenders; and particularly to deep-pocketed folks who can fall back on the taxpayers when the bond issue fails to pay for itself.

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