Augusta considers selling Riverwalk land to condo developer

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A major condominium project could be home to some prime real estate on the Augusta Riverwalk.

A developer has offered to pay $1.8 million for the site.

But the planned project is getting mixed reaction from commissioners and the mayor.

Right now the city property where the old train depot sits at 6th and Reynolds serves as a parking lot for people who want to stroll the Riverwalk.

One Savannah developer wants to buy the land and build condos.

"We have a well-qualified developer that would like to do a $120 million project there," says Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver.

The condos will average $400,000 each and overlook the Savannah River.

Mayor Copenhaver thinks it's a great idea.

"The economic impact study shows that it would add six million dollars to our tax base over the next five years," he says.

But Commissioner Marion Williams says he opposes that type of new development. He wants to use the area as a way to get more visitors into the city.

"People are moving into the Augusta area but they are not moving into Augusta into condos," he says. "We need another five star hotel."

"Basically the responses we've gotten from the hotel developers is: 'It would only be feasible if you give us the property'," Copenhaver says. "So really the highest and best use of land is residential."

Commissioner Keith Brown says, "The project could possibly help, but I think we need to concentrate on industry and good paying jobs. We need people who will spend money in this city."

Mayor Copenhaver says with the city looking at a $5 million budget deficit, the condominium project will help grow the tax base, but Commissioner Marion Williams says the project may not be possible.

"We bought that property with tax dollars, so that means you can't take it and sell it...and that's another thing we need to look at," he says.

Commissioners are scheduled to take up the issue at their meeting next week.