Originally created 10/26/02

North Augusta alters development plan



NORTH AUGUSTA - The city's multimillion-dollar riverfront development plan was altered this week to account for wetlands, a move that will delay progress only slightly, officials said Friday.

The developer of the property, Charleston-based Civitas, discovered while conducting field tests that about an acre of land scheduled for residential development wasn't suitable.

The land is dotted with clay pits that had been dug out to make bricks and pottery. The development area, about 200 acres west of the 13th Street Bridge, was an industrial park until the 1960s.

The developer wanted to fill in the pits but found the land was too shallow to keep out water.

"This wasn't unforeseen, but once we got into it, the numbers were a little off," said Skip Grkovic, the city's director of economic and community development.

A final version of the revised plan was originally expected in late September, according to a city memo. Mr. Grkovic said it likely will be approved in December because of the complications.

Civitas still plans to break ground in early 2003, the planner said.

Once the smaller ponds are combined, the riverfront development will include two large ponds. The change will push the residential area about a block closer to the Savannah River.

The bodies of water will be divided by West Avenue, which officials plan to extend to the river's edge.

Georgia Avenue also will be extended.

Mr. Grkovic said North Augusta 2000, an independent economic improvement group working with the city on the riverfront project, has purchased land along Georgia Avenue that will make its extension possible.

Signs of development should be visible early in the new year, Mr. Grkovic said, as Civitas plans to start by clearing the way for a road along the river, to be called Front Street.

Civitas plans to use land originally cleared for railroad tracks as a second road - Railroad Avenue, Mr. Grkovic said. It will parallel Front Street.

The project's town center, complete with commercial property, will be built between the roads. Residential development will include homes and apartments and will be built all around the center.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.