Project gets more land

Staff

Augusta commissioners on Tuesday approved without discussion rezoning two additional acres for a proposed lifestyle center on Walton Way Extension.

The approval would allow developers to create a right-turn lane allowing access to the 300,000-square-foot facility in addition to the already approved intersection with traffic lights at Hebron Court.

The vote rezoned the land from single-family residential to neighborhood business.

Todd Blowers, the vice president of development for the Forum Development Group, said in an interview before the meeting that the acquisition of the parcels has contributed to project delays.

He said it isn't clear when construction will begin because negotiations still are under way with prospective tenants, which he declined to name.

"We're not at liberty to talk about who we're discussing it with until we have signed a lease," he said.

The other 45 acres at Walton Way Extension and Interstate 20 were rezoned by the commission last year after Atlanta-based Forum Development successfully sued the city for denying its rezoning request after vocal opposition to the project by nearby residents.

A judge sided with Forum and property owners, saying the commissioners' denial was unreasonable and that residents' concerns about increased traffic, safety and flooding issues couldn't be substantiated with hard evidence.

At the time of the ruling, Mr. Blowers estimated the project would create 600 new jobs, $760,000 extra in property taxes and $1.5 million more in annual tax revenue.

Reach Laura Youngs at (706) 823-3227 or laura.youngs@augustachronicle.com.

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