The Augusta Canal Authority, in search of a permanent home along the man-made waterway it oversees, is evaluating a second historic mill -- the Sutherland, built in the 1880s.
"It's an important building to the whole area," said Canal Authority Executive Director Glenn Coyne. "And we're just taking a look at it, more or less as an educational thing."
The authority is negotiating with Clay Boardman for space in the Enterprise Mill for a visitors center and permanent offices. Mr. Coyne said those negotiations remain intact and are "moving full-speed ahead."
However, interest is strong in the Sutherland. It is on the other side of the Calhoun Expressway from the 260,000-square-foot Enterprise, which is undergoing a $15 million renovation into apartments, retail and office space.
Mr. Boardman, who purchased the 12.68-acre Enterprise parcel last summer for $500,000, already is negotiating to buy the Sutherland from Avondale Mills Co. and is working with the Canal Authority to help find suitable space.
Canal Authority members toured the mill last week, Mr. Coyne said. "It's a `what if?' sort of thing," he said. "We just kind of looked at it, as a possible future alternative."
Canal Authority Chairman Dick Fox said the authority has high interest in the entire downtown canal area, including the Sutherland.
"We took a look, primarily, as a learning experience," he said. "Since it's also on the market, as we understand, we wanted to get a good feel for how it relates to the Enterprise. The whole strip from Walton Rehab to 15th Street is destined, at some point, to become a park area."
Mr. Boardman also has acquired additional acreage in adjoining tracts, including two nearby parcels along Telfair Street bought from Roberts Chrysler-Plymouth and Sherman & Hemstreet. He is also negotiating to acquire the Sutherland, which currently is used by Avondale Mills to store fabric.