Originally created 09/24/98

Augusta site chosen by Delta Airlines



Delta Air Lines has picked a spot in northwest Augusta to build its $3 million call reservation center, according to a site plan on file with Richmond County.

Plans show Delta's single-story, 25,200-square-foot facility occupying a 5-acre parcel on Brandenburg Properties, a 180-acre tract of prime commercial real estate sandwiched between River Watch Parkway and the Augusta Canal.

Delta has not formally announced the location, but local officials anticipated the airline would build there since its decision in May to bring the 220-job call reservation center to Augusta.

The Delta office complex will set the tone for the rest of the undeveloped property and could encourage future development of much-needed modern office space, said Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce President Jim West.

"We'd like to see more office buildings and speculative space built somewhere in the metro area -- I think this would be a natural area for that to happen," he said.

The call center will take telephone reservations and customer service calls. Two similar centers have been developed in Huntsville and Montgomery, Ala.

Delta officials, who did not return phone calls Wednesday, have stated in previous interviews that the call center will open in the spring and that Delta will accept applications through the Georgia Department of Labor in January.

The proposed satellite reservation center is expected to employ about 200 full- and part-time telephone sales representatives and 20 management personnel. Delta says its average salary at the facility will be $30,000 and, unlike "outsource" call centers, all employees at the facility will be Delta employees privy to company benefits.

Delta's site plans were submitted to the county's planning office earlier this month, according to county Planning and Zoning Director George Patty. His department has distributed the plans to utility companies and other agencies for review.

"Everybody will look at it to see whether it conforms to all the rules and regulations," he said.

Developers will build a road, to be called River Shoals Parkway, to link the site to River Watch Parkway. The building itself would be about 400 feet from the edge of the busy commuter expressway.

Plans also call for a traffic signal to be placed at the new intersection, about two blocks east of the next traffic signal at Alexander Drive. The entrance to the call center is less than a half-mile from Interstate 20.

All 180 acres are zoned industrial, meaning any development other than residential may go on the property, Mr. Patty said.

San Jose, Calif.-based Brandenburg Properties acquired its canal-front land from the city of Augusta in a 1987 land swap, before the completion of River Watch Parkway and efforts to devise a master plan for undeveloped areas along the canal.

The executor of the Brandenburg property, Bill Barron, did not return repeated messages left at his office.

In 1992, Brandenburg privately approached the city council about leasing public land between the canal and the river for a proposed River Shoals Golf Course and shopping mall.

The golf project later was withdrawn after Augusta Canal Authority consultants and others involved in preserving the historic waterway recommended undeveloped public land be left intact.