Originally created 01/30/98

Business briefs



Housing funds' fate in mayor's hands

The next step in securing bond financing for the purchase of Governor's Place Apartments is in the Augusta mayor's hands, the counsel to the Development Authority of Richmond County said Thursday.

A hearing was held Tuesday to get public comment on whether a $6.8 million tax-exempt bond financing should proceed. In December, the authority authorized a limited partnership formed by Chicago-based Banbury Group and Plato Foufas & Co. to raise $6.8 million to buy Governor's Place Apartments off Wrightsboro Road, near North Leg/Jackson Road.

The bond hearing was held under the Tax Exempt Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, said Jerry Dye, the development authority's counsel.

evelopment authority members had gotten calls from people upset with what they thought was a move to make the apartment complex one that rented mostly to low-income people.

People representing several groups in the area attended the hearing. After the investors explained that they will upgrade the complex, using $1 million of their money, "everyone left on one accord," Mr. Dye said.

If Mayor Larry Sconyers approves the request, an application for allocation of state funds goes to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which must approve the application before the bonds can be issued, Mr. Dye said.

The process could take several months, said Kevin Shea, secretary of the development authority.

b>Penney to close credit center

ATLANTA -- J.C. Penney Co. will close its Atlanta Credit Service Center and lay off the center's 330 employees as part of its restructuring plan.

The retailer announced plans Tuesday to lay off 4,900 employees and close 75 retail stores. On Wednesday, it confirmed that the plan also will include closing the credit center by April 1.

The regional center, located in Marietta, provides customer support to the company's credit card holders.

he company has not said whether any of its retail stores in Georgia will be closed.

But Ed Asbridge, manager of the J.C. Penney store in Augusta Mall, said this week that the local store won't be closed.

The 137,000-square-foot Augusta Mall store won the chairman's award -- the highest distinction bestowed on a store and based in part on profitability -- in 1992, 1993, 1994. "That's a great sign," that the store would not be closed, said company spokeswoman Vicki Lynn Cartwright.

There are 28 stores in Georgia and 16 in South Carolina.

lso, Mr. Asbridge and another J.C. Penney manager at the Augusta Mall store -- Rebecca Blocker -- were among those offered early retirement and will retire today.