Scrupulously planned development will enhance riverfront

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As an individual who has dedicated the past decade of his professional life to Hammond’s Ferry and the North Augusta Riverfront, I have been a logical recipient for questions and concerns about “the stadium,” and the practicality of its place within the community’s Riverfront Center.

The majority of calls, emails and casual conversations, while not unanimous, have been quite positive. Indeed, the response from the younger professional generation has been and continues to be underscored with hopeful, but guarded, excitement.

I SAY “GUARDED” because those who see the potential of the North Augusta riverfront center and the possibility of its capacity to actually touch and embrace the Savannah riverfront are hopeful for a destination that truly embraces the ideals of the great American city; however, the hopefulness is tempered by the same points of contention that are voiced by those who categorically oppose what is now called “Project Jackson,” namely security, traffic/parking and noise.

But whether face-to-face with someone expressing optimism or dissent, I feel compelled to remind that person or people of the visionary purpose of Hammond’s Ferry and its function as a vehicle through which the city of North Augusta can, and hopefully will, see through the plans of its founders to physically connect this great city to the Savannah River.

AS EXCLUSIVE neighborhoods began to spring up along the North Augusta Riverfront in the late 1980s and 1990s, approximately one mile of riverfront, which happened to represent the exact single mile of riverfront laid out by James U. Jackson and his city planners in 1892, remained untouched by developers. And through the vision of city leaders, the property was acquired for the purpose of a public/private partnership to complete this original master plan and ultimately to link downtown North Augusta to the river.

The development and architectural code, which is responsible for the extraordinary design and planning standards reflected in the currently developed phases of Hammond’s Ferry, were put into place to ensure that this vision would be completed in such a way that every single feature of the newer community would enhance the greater “public realm” of North Augusta.

IT IS CLEAR that Hammond’s Ferry has enhanced the city’s public realm, with the addition of the riverfront/Greeneway park, Brick Pond Park, wonderful landscaped sidewalks and beautiful streetscapes. And while the beauty and allure of the community’s scale and individual homes certainly are matters of pride for property and business owners here, the purpose of this detail is to frame the public realm in the most responsible way possible, thus adding value both to the riverfront community and to the city as a whole.

Commenting on the potential of Project Jackson, Charleston, S.C., Mayor Joe Riley wrote to me: “I want you to know I have seldom seen a more exciting and worthwhile mixed use plan than what has been recently unveiled for Hammond’s Ferry. It is world-class.”

IT IS WORLD-CLASS in its intent to deliver the most exceptional public realm possible where it was originally intended. This can be achieved not just by a handful of restaurants and pubs on the river, but with family-oriented cultural facilities, sports venues and public gathering places – the components of any great town center. Why attract someone for an evening meal or a cocktail when one can make an entire family feel welcome for an entire day on the North Augusta Riverfront?

Provided that the city and development partners continue to follow best management practices and exercise responsible due diligence relating to all public safety, traffic and other concerns, the proposed programming of the stadium and related entertainment facility will deliver a true family destination on the river. This plan will allow the city to truly realize the critical civic components that will enhance the quality of Hammond’s Ferry while simultaneously drawing guests and visitors to existing downtown businesses.

Some have told me that “the stadium” was not mentioned in the early days. They are correct, but the opportunity did not exist at that time. Neither Brick Pond Park, Blue Clay Farm nor even Edge Salon, Taste or Manuel’s Cafe were envisioned in the
beginning. But they came, and the public realm is better for it. It offers a sample of the quality to come.

INDEED, I HAVE a homesite adjacent to mine that is now vacant. I do not know who will live there or what the house will look like, but I know the standards are in place to make it right. The standards also are in place for Project Jackson to be carefully executed, and become the catalyst for North Augusta to truly interact with its great river.

(The writer has represented North Augusta Riverfront Co. LLC since its inception and is a resident of Hammond’s Ferry.)

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Riverman1 02/03/13 - 08:11 am
I agree. North Augusta has

I agree. North Augusta has the right demographics and government to make this project work well and uplift the entire hub of the CSRA. Interesting comments by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. That's a city we should emulate.

Tyler-Ray_Daddy 02/03/13 - 10:56 am
The City of North Augusta

The City of North Augusta wants to short change the schools all the tax money they need to build, operate, and maintain the public schools so they can build a baseball stadium. In 2010, the Aiken County School District requested voter approval for a $236 Million bond issue to rebuild and renovate 6 schools. It was defeated 70% to 30%. Now the City of North Augusta wants to divert property tax money away from the cash strapped school district to build a baseball stadium which will have no economic impact and a huge negative community impact.
For those interested: Tuesday night (2/5/2013), the City of North Augusta will make a "Jackson Project" presentation at the Aiken County School Board.
In my opinion, neither a hotel nor a baseball stadium is necessary in downtown North Augusta. The hotels on the Georgia side of the river are adequate enough for this area. Put the baseball stadium out near Costco and I-20 thus locating it more centrally to attract patrons.

countyman 02/03/13 - 12:47 pm
Interesting how none of the

The mayor of Augusta and Charleston are good friends. Interesting how none of the former mayor of Charleston comments pertaining to Augusta ever got mentioned before...

He was very impressed after visiting Augusta, and looking at the new parking deck across from the TEE Center. All of the recent new buildings(library, judicial center, tee center, etc) peaked his interest.

jic 02/03/13 - 04:42 pm
If we want to continue

If we want to continue developing the riverfront on either side we need to support the needs of the river. My pier is currently on dry land because the water level was lowered to reduce stress on the lock and dam. I rarely can take my boat out because the motor hits mud and weeds. N Augusta and Augusta need to team up and prioritize the real needs for riverfront development, the first being shoring up or replacing the lock and dam, and secondly, reducing the noise pollution and congestion from the train industry. Both have a significant negative impact on residential desirability.

Gage Creed
Gage Creed 02/10/13 - 12:53 am
The Mayor of Charleston was

The Mayor of Charleston was impressed by a parking deck? He probably should get out more....

mike1sc 02/15/13 - 04:48 pm
A Legitimate Explanation

This is an excellent overview and explanation of "Project Jackson" from the most probable and credible source, and that is the person who has been responsible for the entire Hammond's Ferry project since it's beginning.

This is an excellent article and as a resident of North Augusta I feel very confident of this project with Turner Simkins indicating his approval of it.

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