Mayor, Development Authority say downtown Augusta set to boom

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It may two years before we see new condos on Augusta's riverfront.

But the Downtown Development Authority says the new addition to the skyline means interest in property in the oldest part of town is skyrocketing.

For some folks, downtown Augusta is seen as a place to avoid. But according to the DDA, in just a couple of years it will be the place to live, work, and play.

Inside the office of Augusta's Downtown Development Authority, the phones are ringing more than ever before.

"They're now averaging 15 calls a day of people looking to invest in downtown Augusta," says Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver.

It's a big boost from the one call they averaged less than two months ago.

Executive director Margaret Woodard says it's the sign of what's on the way.

"Downtown Augusta is getting ready to boom again," she says. "You're going to see it like it was in the early 70's "

The DDA is crediting the recent sale of city property on Reynolds Street, making way for luxury hi-rise riverfront condos called the Watermark on the Riverwalk.

The mayor says the commission's decision to sell the property helped to dispel the perception that Augusta isn't developer-friendly.

"This just hit the statewide news and the southeastern news. It just brings Augusta more on the map," he says.

"We've had a garden shop call about relocating downtown, a really nice linen shop, and a meat market," Woodard says.

And for a downtown full of vacant buildings, developers seem to be ready to move. But is Augusta ready for them?

"Do we have the capacity to handle the growth that's coming? I'm sure well be fine with it," Copenhaver says.

"Oh, we're ready, ready, ready," says Woodard.

The DDA says most of the folks looking to develop and invest in downtown are interested in Broad and Telfair streets and the Laney Walker area.

As far as the condos, right now an environmental study is being done. Construction is set to begin next year.