North Augusta: GreenJackets deal postponed, injured, but still alive

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News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- For a lot of business owners like Wes Wilson, downtown North Augusta seems like it's dying.

"Nothing seems to have been recently, and a lot of the business seems to be moving away from this area more toward the Super Walmart area," said Wilson, who owns Wilson Studio downtown, where he's also a photographer.

For Wilson, that's the reason he supported Project Jackson, the $150 million public-private venture that would bring the stadium, a parking garage and a luxury hotel, among other things, to the riverfront only about a mile from his store.

"As a photographer, my business wouldn't directly benefit," he said. "But from being in a more upscale area, yes, it would benefit it that way."

"In the economy that we've had in the last few years, people just haven't been seeing that private investment anywhere," said North Augusta City Manager Todd Glover.

But the project has suffered a major setback. Last week, the Aiken County Council voted down the financing plan that would have required half-a-million a year from the county for 30 years.

"You know, I was disappointed," Glover said. "We've put in a lot of work."

Glover told News 12 that the project has now been postponed until further notice. A vote on the financing plan at an Aiken County School Board meeting will not happen. Now, Glover and the Atlanta-based developer Greenstone Properties are working on updating the proposal to satisfy everyone.

"A lot of times, you have to compromise, and that's what we're looking at doing right now," Glover said.

Glover doesn't know what the new proposal will look like, but he did tell us the GreenJackets are still all in.

That's good news to Wilson.

"I hope the GreenJackets do stay in this area -- that somewhere around here they get a stadium," he said.

But there's a puzzle that has North Augusta leaders scratching their chins. School board members want a shorter financing period.

However, some Aiken County Council leaders want the opposite, since they want property values brought up to current levels. That would mean the city would have to collect less money for a longer period of time.

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