Mall is removed from sales tax project list

Augusta's working list of upcoming special-purpose sales tax projects is down from $185.3 million to $183.3 million, and it no longer includes $8 million to redevelop Regency Mall.

On Wednesday, City Administrator Fred Russell revealed his adjusted list during a meeting with Hephzibah and Blythe city officials.

Asked about the mall allocation, Mr. Russell said he wouldn't comment on it until the commission's sales-tax workshop at 3 p.m. today.

The city used a $75,000 federal grant to hire F.A. Johnson Consulting Group to devise a mixed-use, mixed-income plan for the Regency site.

Early project lists had $8 million for the "Regency Mall/Rocky Creek Initiative," but the mall's New York-based owners say they want $50 million for it.

The new list has $4.5 million for Hephzibah and Blythe, but Hephzibah is asking for $6.2 million and Blythe is asking for $1.3 million.

Hephzibah City Commission Chairman Robert Buchwitz said his city needs $5 million to upgrade its sewer system, which has fallen out of Environmental Protection Division compliance because of copper discharges.

Mr. Russell said he'll weigh their requests and present his recommendation to commissioners today.

The project list likely will be tweaked further before commissioners approve a final list.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.