Originally created 09/30/00

James Brown buys downtown building



James Brown finally got his name attached to an Augusta landmark.

And it wasn't the civic center.

On Friday, the entertainer purchased the former offices of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association building and filed to officially change its address from 985 Broad St. to "1 James Brown Square."

Mr. Brown paid approximately $1 million for the vacant mid-rise building that was once home to First Federal, then Bankers First Corp. and finally U.S. District Court.

The building was owned by regional bank SouthTrust Corp., which acquired the property during its 1995 buyout of Bankers First.

The Godfather of Soul plans to have his company, James Brown Enterprises, occupy the top floor. The singer's previous office in west Augusta was destroyed by arson in April.

Mr. Brown's advisers said the entertainer decided to buy the 40-year-old downtown building after taking a brief tour of the structure earlier this summer. Mr. Brown especially enjoyed the fourth-floor veranda, which overlooks downtown Augusta.

"When he saw that view, the building was sold," said Buddy Dallas, Mr. Brown's attorney. "He still hasn't seen the entire building."

Mr. Brown wasn't present at the closing of the sale Friday, but Mr. Dallas and the singer's two other trustees, "Judge" Al Bradley and David Cannon, met with reporters outside the building, along with closing attorney John Flynt.

Mr. Dallas said Mr. Brown would discuss his plans for the building's bottom three floors at a later date. Mr. Brown has publicly expressed interest in developing a museum dedicated to his music career and also a television studio to broadcast live performances.

The singer's radio station, WAAW-FM (94.7) currently leases space a block away in the H.L. Green building.

Also present at the Broad Street property Friday were Mayor Bob Young and his wife, Gwen Fulcher-Young, whose real estate company brokered the deal. Both said Mr. Brown's development, whatever it may be, will give more momentum to downtown revitalization efforts.

"This is a great opportunity to bring a high-profile company back to the inner-city," Mrs. Young said. "James Brown's name is known all over the world."

About the building:

Address:

985 Broad Street

Year built:

1959, renovated 1992

Land area:

0.63 acres

Levels:

Four above -ground floors

Parking:

16,553-square-feet, 50 spaces

Building dimensions:

60 feet by 180 feet

Square footage:

21,069, excluding 6,247-square-foot basement

Assessed value:

$1,454,600

Appraised value:

(1992) $1,650,000

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.