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Project Jackson clears final hurdle

Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 10:02 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 2:04 AM
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Project Jackson is clear to move forward, but it will be a while before it does.

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The North Augusta City Council voted 6-1 Monday for third-reading approval on the ordinance that will allow the city to create a Tax Increment Financing district to fund the $144 million public development. The project could include a baseball stadium that would be home to the Augusta GreenJackets.

Despite passage of the ordinance, however, council members said that it could take several months to a year before ground can be broken on the proposed riverfront site.

Councilman James Adams once again opposed the amended ordinance, saying that he doesn’t agree that the city should help fund a baseball stadium.

“In January, the abrupt proposal for Project Jackson to include a baseball stadium just astounded me,” Adams told the council. “I supported the development, but not the stadium to be built and owned by the taxpayers.”

Adams expressed concern over the stadium usage – which he estimated would be about 20 percent of the year – and traffic congestion around the proposed riverfront site.

“As we go forward, I hope this council will be very careful,” he said.

North Augusta resident Steve Donohue was one of just two citizens who addressed the council in the half-filled council chambers on Monday. He expressed concern primarily on the city’s use of “blighted” to describe the proposed development site.

“I would be hesitant to use this procedure,” Donohue said. “They want a baseball stadium so bad that you can almost taste it. But (the plan) is flawed. Seriously flawed.”

Donohue argued that property values in the proposed TIF district have increased in value while North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones argued that many areas in the proposed development site still qualify as “blighted.”

“We have been very consistent in our approach and we have tried to do,” he said. “We have been very measured in our approach and we have been very careful in our approach.”

Despite the passing of the amended ordinance, Councilman Kenneth McDowell said the project still has a long way to go. He estimates that it could be months before any conceptual designs are presented on the size, structures and details of the project, and perhaps a year before any ground is broken.

“My goal, and I think that of the council’s, is to ensure public input at each stage,” he said. “Once we start getting a plan out there, we’ll probably invite the public in to show them what the plans are and where everything is supposed to go and get their input.”

McDowell said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the project moving forward.

“This an opportunity to do some great things for the city of North Augusta, and I think it will benefit the entire CSRA,” he said. “But if it’s not done right, we are presented the opportunity to really mess things up. I want to make sure that we do it right and take our time.”

GreenJackets president and owner Jeff Eiseman, who was present at Monday’s meeting, said the final vote lifted a weight off his shoulders.

“There’s a lot of I’s to dot and T’s to cross, and there’s a lot of other steps along the way,” he said. “But having this political process behind us, we can focus on the task at hand, which is creating a magic environment which would be a game-changer for the entire region, and be a civic source of pride for North Augusta and the CSRA.”

Staff Writer David Lee contributed to this story.

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Riverman1
90634
Points
Riverman1 11/18/13 - 10:30 pm
3
2
Play ball!!!

Play ball!!!

etlinks
23391
Points
etlinks 11/19/13 - 06:25 am
3
0
James Adams should run for

James Adams should run for mayor.

Riverman1
90634
Points
Riverman1 11/19/13 - 06:49 am
3
2
Never In Doubt

When it was first announced that a North Augusta group had bought the Greenjackets was there ever a doubt of where the team would end up? Remember that IRS report I posted the other day that showed hundreds of millions of dollars leaving Richmond County for Aiken and Columbia Counties?

seenitB4
93731
Points
seenitB4 11/19/13 - 07:14 am
3
2
Good Location

Good idea...let it happen...move along little doggies...

Little Lamb
47979
Points
Little Lamb 11/19/13 - 08:08 am
3
0
Blighted

I guess the strategy is for the property tax assessor to artificially hold assessments below market during the period leading up to the TIF. Then after the TIF is established, raise assessments quickly to above market. Then the increased tax collections can go directly into the ballpark account instead of the general account.

What's in your wallets, North Augustans living in the TIF zone?

...point to ponder
779
Points
...point to ponder 11/19/13 - 11:17 pm
3
3
Sad day for Augusta...

Thank you Mayor Copenhaver (and Gov Deal and Dr Azziz)
for nothing! Y'all have single handedly tossed Augusta under the bus and thrown baseball out of Augusta ( and out of Ga )!

This is a BIG loss for Augusta and Ga IF the Green Jackets leave.

But I told you they would leave if you didn't build them a new stadium on the golf and gardens site.

The Augusta Mayor just gave up (never even came to bat!).... didn't fight a bit to keep the team here.
Not one ounce of sweat to try and keep the Green Jackets in Georgia. The Governor didn't even step up to the plate to try and help!

That's pretty sorry.... But his friends are happy who are part of the development across the river!

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 11/19/13 - 10:09 am
4
0
disappointment

There are a few disappointments associated with this project and one of them is the loss of beautiful natural habitats along the riverside. The riverbanks are only just beginning to recover from all the housing built on the SC side across from Riverwalk, and it will be a few more decades before the areas alongside this development ever come close to being what they should. IMO it is not 'progress'.

countyman
21299
Points
countyman 11/19/13 - 10:35 am
1
4
Point to Ponder... The $75

Point to Ponder... The $75 million biotech park and $225 million student housing/retail development provides much better oppurtunities.

Augusta is the next San Jose and Raliegh type city were the creative class rules.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 11/19/13 - 04:15 pm
0
0
Aiken county
Unpublished

is to Richmond county what Cobb county is to Fulton county: more affluent and less crime. The term "and there goes the neighborhood" actually is true.

willie Lee
423
Points
willie Lee 11/19/13 - 07:42 pm
2
0
Deal Makers?
Unpublished

I'm still waiting on the city or county to tell us who is going to own this convention center. I'm also sorry for the citizens of Aiken County who got hosed on this one. No politician in their right mind would have voted for this one so all I can say is "follow the money".

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