Developer to bring new life to historic downtown building

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April 13, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The old JB White building on Broad Street has been empty for years. Now, some Atlanta developers are ready to transform it into office space and condos.

You keep hearing that downtown is about to boom, with riverfront condos and a possible baseball stadium. Those projects could take several years to complete.

But if things go as planned, the old JB White building could be turned into downtown's newest place to live, work, and eat very soon.

A single shopping bag sits in the window of the JB White building on Broad Street. It's now vacant...but many years ago, it was the place to shop downtown.

By the end of the year, it could be filled with condominiums.

Some Atlanta developers are under contract to make that happen, and sooner than you might think.

"The building is supposed to close at the end of May, and construction will begin immediately after that," said Margaret Woodard of the Downtown Development Authority.

Woodard is working with the Horizon Investment Group out of Atlanta. In addition to their plans for 49 condos on the top three floors, the bottom level would include a Starbucks, a FedEx, and a police substation.

The first phase of the renovation is expected to be complete this October, and when it's all complete, officials says it will increase downtown's population by five percent.

Jeff Ruben's clothing store has been a part of downtown for over 100 years and has always been next door to the JB White building. He's ready for the old building to live again.

"We think it's wonderful," he said. "Any addition to Broad Street, where it brings people, vibrance, and exuberant downtown is great."

The developers say because the structure has been kept in such great shape over the years, they are ready for construction, and eventually a completion that will give folks a new reason to come downtown.

"It starts to build that critical mass we need of residents living downtown, so we can recruit things people are asking for, like a grocery store, drug store, and shops, things of that nature," Woodard said.

Horizon Investment Group will be back in Augusta on Wednesday (April 18) to finish some paperwork, so this could go through really soon.

In all they expect to spend about $9 million for the project, and they expect to get some of that money from a special foundation that provides money for historical building that helps downtowns.

On Tuesday (April 10), the mayor announced a new exploratory committee to look at putting a new stadium for the GreenJackets downtown, next to the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame's Botanical Gardens.

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