Originally created 05/11/05

Former Woolworth's building awaits redevelopment



An abandoned department store building in the heart of Augusta's business district might soon come back to life.

And if it does, it would be one of the biggest downtown redevelopments.

The 46,000-square-foot former Woolworth's building, one of the largest vacant buildings downtown, closed in 1992.

Plans approved Jan. 27 by the city's Historic Preservation Commission show the building may be redeveloped with retail space on the first floor and loft apartments on the second.

Developers have six months to begin construction but have yet to request a building permit, said Rob Sherman, the county's license and inspection director.

The plans were submitted by Metro Di Bella LLC. Hal Hood, who is president of Main Street Augusta, is listed as the corporation's agent.

Mr. Hood would not comment Tuesday on the project, adding that negotiations are still under way.

The Woolworth's building, located at 802 Broad St., has been owned by area businessman Jimmy Leewood Martin since 1998 and has yet to sell.

Last year Mr. Martin sold the former Augusta Federal Savings building at 823 Broad St. to Augusta general contractor R.W. Allen.

Metro Di Bella's plans call for multiple retail spaces to be created inside the building, which occupies the corner of Eighth and Broad streets.

If developers did follow through with the project, it would be a major step for downtown Augusta, said Chris Naylor, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority and Main Street Augusta.

"All I can really say is that if all of this comes to fruition it can enhance even more development downtown," Mr. Naylor said.

Not every plan to revitalize a major building in downtown Augusta has worked out.

In 2001, Enterprise Mill developer Clay Boardman and his partners purchased the JB White building with plans to convert it into a retail and residential complex.

Those plans have yet to materialize.

Reach Adrian Burns at (706) 823-3352 or adrian.burns@augustachronicle.com.

Downtown Space

Broad Street is home to several empty department store buildings, including:

Building Address Stories Square footage
Woolworth's 802 Broad St.   2   46,000
Kress 834-838 Broad St.   5   47,500
J.C. Penney 732-738 Broad St.   5   80,300
JB White 936-940 Broad St.   4   82,600

Source: Augusta-Richmond County