The Aiken County Council voted Tuesday in favor of approving third and final reading of the agreement between the county and the city of North Augusta for a modified tax increment financing district that would be used to help fund Project Jackson, a development that would bring a baseball stadium and more to North Augusta’s riverfront.
Before voting, the council recessed to receive legal counsel in an executive session that lasted only a few minutes.
Councilman Scott Singer successfully motioned to slightly amend the measure to provide more money to the county if revenue exceeds projections.
Councilman Phil Napier again unsuccessfully attempted to table the ordinance so it could go to a referendum.
In the end, the council voted 6-3 to approve the agreement as amended.
“I see this as progress for Aiken County, North Augusta. I see it as beneficial to people’s quality of life in our area,” Councilman Chuck Smith said. “We got to grow or we’ll perish if we don’t … I think this project is worthy of moving forward.”
The development includes a stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets; a 200-room, resort-style hotel and conference center; numerous restaurants; office and retail space; and apartments and townhouses on the North Augusta riverfront.
GreenJackets president and owner Jeff Eiseman was present for the vote and said he was excited about the outcome.
“We’ve been working toward this for a long time, and we’ve never been closer, but it is a tremendous project,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of misinformation out there. There’s $100 million in private development. It’s going to be an economic development piece. It’s going to create jobs. It’s going to change the North Augusta riverfront. It’s going to become a destination. It’s going to change North Augusta. It’s going to make Aiken County that much more of an attraction.
“From the standpoint of the GreenJackets being there, we’re very excited to be in the epicenter of all that,” he said.
Now, the North Augusta City Council must consider the modified tax district proposal and hold three readings and a public hearing, City Administrator Todd Glover said.
The modified district would last for 30 years upon the issuance of the bonds, he said, and “even our model is predicated on us paying off that debt early.”
Even if the city council approves the plan, there is still more work to be done, City Councilman Fletcher Dickert said.
“If that passes, then we’ll have a lot of work trying to bring all of the developers to the table, get all the agreements, get the plans drawn up, and once we have everything finalized then it will go back before city council for another public hearing and three votes to actually borrow the money and go before the planning commission,” he said.
“This is a great step forward but we have a long road ahead of us, but we’re excited about it.”
Staff Writer David Lee contributed to this article.