Originally created 01/19/01

Clearing begins for Armstrong Galleria project



Eighth Street will look a little different this morning.

With the demolition of a duplex in the 1100 block Thursday, the Laney-Walker Development Corp. moved forward with another phase of the area's ongoing transformation.

The home was the first of six slated to come down by the beginning of February as a part of the Armstrong Galleria Phase II project.

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which allocated $250,000 for buying property, tearing down structures and hauling off the rubble on the 15 parcels of land at Eighth Street and Laney-Walker Boulevard, across from the existing Armstrong Galleria.

Once the property is cleared, the plan is to build an 8,600-square-foot drugstore, a 1,200- square-foot drive-through restaurant and 6,000 square feet of retail space for small shops.

"What will happen with Armstrong Galleria II is that it will actually just mirror Armstrong I," said CSRA Business League Interim Director Catherine Maness. "With the exception of the out-parcel restaurant, it's going to pretty much look like the one that's already constructed."

The Laney-Walker Development Corp. hired the CSRA Business League to manage this portion of Phase II, which involves only clearing the land, Ms. Maness said.

Project managers couldn't say when actual construction of the shopping center would begin because no construction company has been identified to complete the project.

Last year, pharmacist Marshall Curtis placed a bid for Phase II's construction but was met with opposition from some Laney-Walker Development Board members. They said the project needed to be handled by people who were involved with Phase I.

Ms. Maness said Mr. Curtis has decided against taking on the project.

"Mr. Curtis is out of the picture now," she said. "They are going to have to go to a new developer and renegotiate costs," she said.

The Housing and Neighborhood Development Department, the department in charge of locally allocated HUD money, has to approve a contractor to handle the construction. Subsequently, the Augusta Commission will have to approve the choice.

"We have the plan, but we just don't have all of the players," Ms. Maness said.

A total of 11 homes will be leveled in coming weeks, she said. Most of the homes acquired for the project were condemned and abandoned. However, two residents - one property owner and a renter - were displaced by the project and relocated to improved living conditions, Ms. Maness said.

Reach Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851.