Originally created 08/17/99

City approves company for development

NORTH AUGUSTA -- North Augusta's plan to turn its riverfront into the city's calling card got a boost Monday night when a Maryland firm was chosen to plan a strategy to develop the central riverfront district.

A resolution approved at the city council meeting authorized City Administrator Charles Martin to sign a contract with Hunter Interests Inc., at a price tag of $115,000.

The contract calls for the city to pay Hunter Interests, including the firm's subcontractors Allison Platt, from $90 an hour to $225 an hour, depending on the team member whose time the city is billed for. The contract puts a limit of the fee at $115,000.

The district extends from the new River Golf Club and adjacent subdivision to Campbell Town Landing.

Work is to begin Sept. 1, and plans call for the strategy to be complete by Dec. 31.

Submission of proposals from developers could begin as early as January.

"The anticipated redevelopment strategy is flexible, and it could include either a master developer approach or project-by-project development agreements," according to Skip Grkovic, the city's director of economic and community development.

Both local and national developers are to be included in the mix.

A marketing plan is to be a major part of the strategy, Mayor Lark Jones said.

Mr. Jones has advocated the inclusion of the Civitas team, consisting of a Charleston developer and, on the local level, Blanchard and Calhoun Realty. Civitas was among the top three firms vying for the contract but lost out to Hunter Interests.

The Hunter team must come to terms with the fact that there is little publicly owned land in the nearly 200 acres in the Central Riverfront District. Any strategy devised by the group must attract private investors willing to pay prices attractive to local landowners.

"The whole key is making sure property owners are involved and receptive," Mr. Jones said.

He noted that the major property owners in the district have been involved in the planning since the mid-1990s when the redevelopment master plan was drawn.

Also, since public money is to be spent, any strategy or resulting development must be of sufficient interest to the public, the source of revenue for roads, other infrastructure and parks in the area.

The public/private linkage has been of concern to Mr. Jones during the process.

"We are concerned about the lack of city-owned property to ensure public access and any strategy would have to include some sense of public interest to get people involved," he said.

The contract does call for continued public participation, although it remains unclear just how many additional public meetings will be held.

Pat Willis can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.


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