Lake pitched for mall land

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Saying it won't be practical for the city to buy or condemn the defunct Regency Mall, City Administrator Fred Russell gave Augusta commissioners another option Thursday for using special-purpose sales tax money to spur redevelopment in the area:

A 13-acre lake.

"For those of you who have ever sold real estate, waterfront property is the most viable property you've got to sell," Mr. Russell said.

Creating it out of Rocky Creek would cost $2.5 million, he said. He showed commissioners an aerial photo with water drawn in on an area north of the mall, which would be to the right of it in a view from Gordon Highway.

The lake would encompass most of Regency Boulevard, a day care and a retention pond between the mall parking lot and Rocky Creek. At 13 acres it would be slightly larger than Lake Aumond off Walton Way Extension.

Reaction from commissioners was generally positive.

"Whatever we get is better than what we have now," said Calvin Holland, whose district includes Regency Mall. "Everybody is tired of seeing that property the way it is. We want something better."

Mr. Russell presented the plan as part of his reworked project list for the next round of special-purpose local option sales tax collections, which now totals $184.7 million, down from $185.3 million last month.

Earlier versions included $8 million to acquire, raze and redevelop Regency Mall, but Mr. Russell said that plan's a bust. The mall's owner, New York-based Cardinal Entities, wants $50 million for it although the county has it valued at $4.2 million.

If the city condemns it, Mr. Russell said, it loses more than $51,000 in taxes and the property could only be used for a park or other municipal service. The city used a $75,000 federal grant to hire F.A. Johnson Consulting Group to create a plan for the site, which called for a mixed-use, mixed-income community with apartments, townhomes, open space, commercial space and a recreational center.

Along with making such things more likely to be developed, Mr. Russell said, the lake would provide flood control and recreational space, which is scarce in that part of town.

Commissioner Jimmy Smith said he's not happy about losing the $8 million. He said south Augustans are tired of having to drive to Washington Road for a pair of socks, and the section of the county with the most development potential is "going to pot."

"I can tell you that south Augusta will not support this SPLOST unless something is done out there," Mr. Smith said.

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

NONPROFITS, PAINE COLLEGE ADDED TO LIST

City Administrator Fred Russell's revised list of proposed projects now has money for about a dozen more nonprofits and other entities, most of which had been turned down before. They're not getting all they asked for, and at Thursday's commission sales tax workshop Mr. Russell proposed they be required to come up with 20 to 25 percent in matching funds before the city gives them any money.

Agencies now being accommodated include:

Paine College $2.5 million

Fleming Tennis Center $850,000

(MACH Academy, recreation projects)

Augusta Museum of History $600,000

Lucy Craft Laney Museum $600,000

Boys and Girls Club $500,000

CSRA Land Trust $500,000

(as a Public Services project)

Golden Harvest Food Bank $250,000

Pendleton King Park Foundation $200,000

Augusta Urban Ministries $175,000

Historic Augusta $125,000

Jessye Norman School of Arts $95,000

The new list also recommends $5.7 million for the cities of Hephzibah and Blythe, which on Wednesday requested a combined $7.5 million.

Comments (93) Add comment
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As It Is
2
Points
As It Is 02/06/09 - 01:42 am
0
0
After we build this lake on

After we build this lake on property that is obvioulsy owned by someone with ties to get it sold in this area then we can buy full page adds in the AJC to the tune of $30,000.00 per week until we find a buyer. Where is the leadership within our local government? Hell, at this point, I would settle for a smart high school senior.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/06/09 - 01:55 am
0
0
Augusta Urban Ministries

Augusta Urban Ministries $175,000, Golden Harvest Food Bank $250,000 as long as crap like this is putting out goods and services the riff raff/homeless will be coming to Augusta in droves! It is like feeding a cat at your back door. Soon the pet population is a problem and it is your own fault for feeding them to start with. Urban Ministries and Golden Harvest should use the money to by the riff raff a one way ticket to West Palm Beach, Florida. There are plenty of wealthy people to feed, cloth and shelter the homeless there. I understand that the Golden Harvest director gets paid about a hundred thousand a year with all of the perks included. Correct me if I am wrong.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/06/09 - 02:01 am
0
0
All of these non profits are

All of these non profits are a riff raff magnet for Augusta. Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, Tempest-tossed to me I lift my lamp beside the golden Yada, yada, yada enough already! Are we not fed up with this crap?

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/06/09 - 03:00 am
0
0
When are you people going to

When are you people going to get it? These drifters come into Augusta and we don't know anything about them. If they find it pleasant here they call their buddies. If Augusta gets one homeless person a week from each of the contiguous states that is 2304 a year. IF that isn't enough they tell about 5 more from out of state times 2304 equals 11520 and about 10 percent of these abled bodied men lay up with generational welfare women and have offspring! Are you getting a clear picture of this Augusta mess? It is time to bind the sugar tit.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 02/06/09 - 03:11 am
0
0
The 13 acre lake is a viable

The 13 acre lake is a viable idea. Maybe it should be pitched to the owners. I'm confident they would prefer to invest the development money rather than have the property condemned. If not, think imminent domain.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 02/06/09 - 03:15 am
0
0
If south Augustans are tired

If south Augustans are tired of going to west Augusta for a pair of socks,(not a far drive), then they need to come up with a way to control crime in their area so business will be willing to invest there. The city doesn't seem to be able or willing to stop the crime growth and south Augusta seems to attract the crime commiters.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
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No_Longer_Amazed 02/06/09 - 03:48 am
0
0
IMO, if the mall's owner

IMO, if the mall's owner thinks it is worth $50 million then the county should collect tax based on that value, NOT $4.2 million.

ColCo
927
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ColCo 02/06/09 - 06:24 am
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Why is Paine College on the

Why is Paine College on the list? I was under the impression that it was a private HBC.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 02/06/09 - 06:32 am
0
0
Ah, another body of water for

Ah, another body of water for criminals to toss evidence and bodies into! If the management company values it so high then tax them at that rate! It's not rocket science people!

junket83
0
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junket83 02/06/09 - 06:54 am
0
0
Not only should the taxes be

Not only should the taxes be increased to the "perceived value" of the property by the owners, the taxes should be increased substantially for ALL vacant property. The owners are in no hurry to dispose of the property because they have no penalty to let it sit idle and ruin the surrounding community.

Save some money and let the Army or the Department of Corrections raze the property and return it to a vacant lot.

This should be the only involvement by government. The private sector needs to develop the property or let is remain a vacant lot. The only public alternative would be to turn the property over to the Augusta Housing Authority and create a giant housing complex for the poor. Move the Golden Harvest Food bank and other mission groups to the property so they can better serve the population.

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 02/06/09 - 07:09 am
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0
n/a

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 02/06/09 - 07:25 am
0
0
n/a

justthefacts
25501
Points
justthefacts 02/06/09 - 07:26 am
0
0
PT, I hope you were being

PT, I hope you were being your sardonic self when you said "think imminent domain."

Bored in GA
2
Points
Bored in GA 02/06/09 - 07:29 am
0
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PT...Do you not realize crime

PT...Do you not realize crime happens everywhere and alot of it comes from Columbia County! Little rich kids who want more! Go and get the reports from other counties dear! A lot of Columbia is covered as not to embarrass those who pay for QUIET!!!

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 02/06/09 - 07:35 am
0
0
I say that every citizen of

I say that every citizen of the C.S.R.A. just go out to the site, relieve ourselves of the natural fluids in our bladder and save a whole bunch of money. I mean they want to [filtered word] our money away, the least we can do is help keep the cost down. Granted we will have to place swim at your own risk signs, but I am sure we can find some at the Dollar Store.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 02/06/09 - 07:39 am
0
0
Why is Fleming Tennis Center

Why is Fleming Tennis Center on the list?

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 02/06/09 - 07:40 am
0
0
It doesn't matter what they

It doesn't matter what they build there NO ONE from columbia co. will come there or purchase lot's from there. They would not move there if the lots were free. Who would?

HYPOCRITES 08
7
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HYPOCRITES 08 02/06/09 - 07:44 am
0
0
Who said they were depending

Who said they were depending on someone from Columbia County to come and build anything here? Hell they cannot complete the projects they have started there. Wrong example IMHO.

treerock
0
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treerock 02/06/09 - 07:48 am
0
0
what is it? less

what is it? less taxes/government when it applies to you or higher taxes and government seizure when it's some out of town acehole?

J.W.
2
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J.W. 02/06/09 - 08:21 am
0
0
What is this continued love

What is this continued love affair with Regency Mall! How about taking the wrecking ball to it then dig a big hole and fill it with water. You would get rid of a tremendous eyesore and create Fred's lake at the same time.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 02/06/09 - 08:22 am
0
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Take Fred's idea a step
Unpublished

Take Fred's idea a step further, make the dam another 50 feet higher and dam up Gordon Highway. Back when it used to rain, the whole area used to flood!

disssman
6
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disssman 02/06/09 - 08:47 am
0
0
Its fine to say how much we

Its fine to say how much we are giving them. But please tell us what the money is used for by these people. Is this money going for salaries, bonuses or special benefits for directors of these organizations (Many make 6 figure salaries now), or is it guaranteed to be used for the betterment of the entire CSRA?

Little Lamb
49367
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Little Lamb 02/06/09 - 08:48 am
0
0
This lake idea is as much a

This lake idea is as much a bust as the original $8 million mall demolition idea. The land is PRIVATE. Patricia is correct to call for the property owners to make the decisions, not the politicians.

Little Lamb
49367
Points
Little Lamb 02/06/09 - 08:50 am
0
0
Jimmy Smith is a demogogue.

Jimmy Smith is a demogogue. There is a Wal-Mart on Deans Bridge Rd. There are Dollar Generals all over the place. South Augustans have plenty of options for sock purchases.

noway
201
Points
noway 02/06/09 - 08:54 am
0
0
Good question ColCo - Paine

Good question ColCo - Paine College IS a private HBCU - what do they need $2.5 million for and why in the world would ARC give it to them? Ridiculous...

abc123xyz
0
Points
abc123xyz 02/06/09 - 09:14 am
0
0
One reason Augusta has so

One reason Augusta has so much "riff raff" is that Augusta is second only to Atlanta in the amount of Section 8 housing for the state of Georgia. If you don't believe it, go to the Section 8 housing website - it spells it out in plain English! Augusta will never amount to anything respectable as long as it caters to people who refuse to work for themselves & earn their own living instead waiting for a free/reduced place to live & a government handout.

lew767
0
Points
lew767 02/06/09 - 09:17 am
0
0
OK folks let them take the

OK folks let them take the ole mall and tear it down. Put the place back as it was in 1970 so us ole Hippies can go back and party like we did then. Boy was those the days my friend we thought they would never end. If any of you are still around respond to this note! Bobby 60 at Clarks Hill,SC

dashiel
176
Points
dashiel 02/06/09 - 09:22 am
0
0
Market value of the old mall

Market value of the old mall is $4 million (generous assessment). Tax the owners as if it were worth $50 million. Earmark this revenue to convert the place into the Marion Williams Indoor Drag Strip & Institute for the Deaf.

curly123053
5424
Points
curly123053 02/06/09 - 09:37 am
0
0
It is true that there is

It is true that there is crime everywhere, but south Augusta seems seems to be a hotbed of violence including shootings, drugs and gangs. Almost everyday in the media(WRDW, WJBF, WAGT, Augusta Chron), you hear of something bad that has happened. These constant reports do have a negative influence on companies investing in a certain area. Look at Regency Mall. At one time it was advertised as the largest mall in the state of Georgia when it 1st opened. There was no reason why this area could not explode with developments and strip malls back then. What went wrong back then? If I remember right, and I am sure some of you will refresh my memory, there were countless purse snatchings in the parking lots surrounding Regency Mall. Eventually more and more people stopped going to Regency Mall due to being concerned for their safety and the safety of their families. The results of constant criminal activity shuttered the Regency Mall. If Jimmy Smith is upset about this area he should be investing in helping the sheriff clean up the criminal element, get rid of the drugs, stop the panhadlers from harrassing people. One of the biggest nuisances at Southgate are panhandlers.

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 02/06/09 - 09:53 am
0
0
Wth??? why do south augustans

Wth??? why do south augustans have to drive to washington rd for socks??? S Aug has same stores west aug NA & CC has and the mall is in the middle. I understand the frustration with southside, but come on what other BS are you trying to blow. if they have to go across town for socks, the only reason I can see is they are scared to go to the stores in thier area!!! And these morons in NY arent putting forth any effort to make this mall something worth while, so tax them on what they belive its worth, maybe then they will release it!

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