Hotel, retail concept gets nod

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The Augusta Historic Preservation Commission approved the concept of a mixed-use development with a hotel in downtown Augusta on Thursday.

The commission voted 7-1 to approve the concept of the $30 million project's size, scope and location on property at James Brown Boulevard and Reynolds Street, where the old Augusta Police Department now stands. The concept includes retail space on the first level fronting the boulevard and along Reynolds Street with two stories of residential space above, underground parking and an eight-story hotel next to the Augusta Common, where a row of historic warehouses now stands.

The police station and most of the warehouses would be demolished. The agreement approved Thursday also calls for the developer to make archival drawings of the old police station, part of which would be salvaged and used in the hotel.

Project designers will work with Historic Augusta to come up with a plan to save as many of the old buildings as possible, according to Tom Robertson, the project engineer.

Demolition of the buildings will be tied to the site plans, which the developers will have a year to complete and bring back to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval. Tennent Houston, representing Historic Augusta, said Historic Augusta believes in the economic development of the city's historic neighborhoods.

"If they're not economically viable, then the job of preserving historic buildings is impossible," he said. "So projects like this, we think can be very, very beneficial to downtown Augusta and can encourage preservation throughout the city. But, I think, it's also important to know that every time a significant building is lost it makes the value of the remaining buildings that much less."

Mr. Tennent asked the commission to delay action until the agency has an opportunity to assess the buildings. Mr. Robertson said delay would not be desirable.

Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard spoke in favor of the project, saying it is good for downtown Augusta.

"It creates 70 to 80 jobs and means about $300,000 annually in hotel tax," she said. "And it will really, really generate retail with 140 rooms -- a $30 million investment in downtown Augusta. We don't get those every day."

Historic Preservation Commission member Lara Plocha also spoke in favor of the project. Member Rob Moon, the only member to vote against approving the concept, called demolishing historic buildings such as the old police department a "slippery slope."

The police station was built in 1935 for "upwards of $120,000," and was referred to as the "new police barracks," according to the Sept. 1, 1935, edition of The Augusta Chronicle.

The property is being developed by Courtland R. Desseau of Maylene, Ala., according to Richmond County Planning Commission Director George Patty.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/28/08 - 04:42 am
0
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"Slippery slope"? Rob Moon

"Slippery slope"? Rob Moon must not know of Augusta's ongoing effort to preserve every possible historic building. The old jail and warehouses are not necessary or needed for historical value. If the new construction is in keeping with down town architecture (see Weeks Automotive @ 13th and Reynolds) there should be no objection.

jdcooper
0
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jdcooper 03/28/08 - 04:52 am
0
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I think it's a great idea.

I think it's a great idea. It's unusual for a company to actually be interested in downtown Augusta!!

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 03/28/08 - 06:30 am
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This project is synonymous of

This project is synonymous of the many great things that are happening and will happen in the urban center--including North Augusta. The Augusta Common is the epic center of the CSRA and this development which will be on the edge of the Common will be across Reynolds Street from the proposed new Morris Museum of Art and possibly a new Performing Arts building—and the Marriott Hotel & new TEE convention center. In spite of those who have abandoned downtown Augusta over the past 30 years for the malls & West Augusta the Center City where General Oglethorpe gave birth to the area around 300 years ago will display vibrancy in the next few years never seen before. Local people are always the last to see unique values in their community that give great essence for the future.

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 03/28/08 - 07:13 am
0
0
Way to go, I'm glad Lord

Way to go, I'm glad Lord knows we need a better skyline.

GuyIncognito
1
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GuyIncognito 03/28/08 - 07:59 am
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Hooray for progress!!!

Hooray for progress!!! Historic buildings should be preserved, if possible, however if they can't be used and are just abandoned, either because of economic reasons or lack of suitability for any purpose, then whats the point of saving them? Please don't put a concrete and glass mess on top of another building downtown.

bigt2u
0
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bigt2u 03/28/08 - 08:47 am
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Sorry, does anyone seem to

Sorry, does anyone seem to remember the "port royal" fiasco?

Lysa
0
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Lysa 03/28/08 - 08:47 am
0
0
What ever happened to the

What ever happened to the Village at Riverwatch plan?

henrystripe
59
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henrystripe 03/28/08 - 10:12 am
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As the old bricks ARE, Jake,

As the old bricks ARE, Jake, to be incorporated into the new development, I suggest they be used in the floor!

natep
5
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natep 03/28/08 - 10:13 am
0
0
Maybe Port Royal was before

Maybe Port Royal was before its time. There is much more support for downtown now than in the mid-late 80s.

WhiteboyforJenkins
0
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WhiteboyforJenkins 03/28/08 - 11:24 am
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Wow, got PT mad at me. For

Wow, got PT mad at me. For the record, Butler Automotive is outside the downtown historic district and I am happy to stack my credentials in historic preservation against most folks any day of the week. My vote was not against the project, it has a lot of merit and can be great for the downtown, but projects like these need to include Historic Augusta at the start and not as an afterthought. Demolition should be the last resort, not the first option; from what I saw they explored no other possibilities. Augusta’s historic downtown and neighborhoods are among this cities greatest asset, and we owe it to the future to make a reasonable effort protect those resources. While I respect the views and opinions of my fellow commissioners, I do feel that we failed to make that reasonable effort in this case, and I am concerned about the implications for other historic structures and neighborhoods as Augusta continues to improve.

coco rubio
53
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coco rubio 03/28/08 - 03:49 pm
0
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this is great news.....

this is great news.....

futureaugusta
28
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futureaugusta 03/28/08 - 03:58 pm
0
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A building, better yet a

A building, better yet a jail, built in 1935 that has not had a major tenant for a great period of time should be demolished so that we can use the land for its highest and best use. Save the buildings that are worth saving and fight the fights that are worth fighting. This is good for Augusta, good for our local economy, and good for me and the future of my children. There is nothing that should stand in the way of our progress especially Historic Augusta. If it were a Civil War jail you might have an argument. Augusta needs re-vitalization in the worst way and we need it now. Historic Augusta can sit atop their soap box and preach to anyone that will listen but I AIN'T BUYING IT.

MartinezWest Augusta
2
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MartinezWest Augusta 03/28/08 - 09:46 pm
0
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great news augusta

great news augusta

bigalsc
4
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bigalsc 03/28/08 - 09:50 pm
0
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The jail was never an

The jail was never an architecturally important or even an attractive building.But the antebellum warehouss have potential to be redevelped into retail, restaurant or meeting space.They should be incorporated into any plan.The best example of this is the Lodge Alley Inn in Charleston. Google it and you'll see what I mean. There is plenty of vacant space for new development in Augusta starting from whole cloth. It is important to retain historic fabric in a 270 year old city. It is what makes the city unique. Mr Moon is right, we need to be vigilant not to throw the baby out with the bathwater!

namaste
0
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namaste 03/29/08 - 12:29 am
0
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Good to see ya'll happy about

Good to see ya'll happy about something...night nite.

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