Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corp. officials held the grand opening of their long delayed office building on Laney-Walker Boulevard on Saturday.
Interim Chairman Charles Walker cut the ribbon, officially opening the $1.7 million, three-story, 18,000-square-foot facility, although two of its tenants cannot move in until all utilities are complete.
In December, after months of delay and controversy over a bogus payment and performance bond, the corporation gave Savannah-based contractor Pat Mathis until March 1 to complete the building or face a $1,000-a-day penalty.
The corporation has moved into its third-floor quarters, but the city's fire administration, which has leased the first floor, and the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department, which will have offices on the second floor, have not moved in.
Housing Director Warren Smith said he expects to move in in two to three weeks.
During Saturday's ceremonies, Mr. Walker said newspaper articles that detailed construction problems had helped to get the building completed.
"Sometimes you think that criticism hurts," he said.
"But actually, criticism motivates. Sometimes if you don't get no criticism, you might move slow."
An investigation by The Augusta Chronicle showed that what was supposed to be the contractor's payment surety bond from Global Bonding of Las Vegas was bogus.
Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine issued a cease-and-desist order against Global Bonding.
In December, the ANIC board directed Ms. Mathis to take legal action against Global Bonding and refund the $42,621 that ANIC President Robert Cooks paid to help Ms. Mathis get the bond.
The money has not been refunded, according to project architect Nicholas Dickinson Sr.
While he was state Senate majority leader, Mr. Walker was instrumental in getting $20 million in state money to help revitalize the Laney-Walker area.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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