Thompson gets cold shoulder on $10M Augusta riverfront development, slams city bid process

Train property Augusta
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News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A well-known local business owner is not happy with the city of Augusta. He wants to help build new homes along the river, but he says the city is standing in the way.

"If they were running a business, they would have a real problem." said local business owner Donnie Thompson. "Maybe it is good that they are running a government."

Thompson is slamming the city for what he calls a less-than-stellar bid process.

"We don't have time to waste," he said. "I'm not so sure this isn't a waste of time."

You can't miss the signs around town. Thompson bid $300,000 for the old train depot property.

"I've never seen a sealed bid that worked exactly like this sealed bid," he said.

Thompson has yet to hear from city leaders who are reportedly underwhelmed with the numbers for the riverfront property.

"What you get is the highest price anybody is willing to pay on that day," he said. "And you need to be happy with it."

Thompson's business partner, Steve Maun, is looking to model a suggested new multi-use housing development after his neighboring Hammond's Ferry project.

"$10 million to $20 million would go into this project," Maun said.

"And you are willing to do that?" we asked.

"Oh, absolutely," Maun replied. "I think the market is there now."

The historic depot has been sitting vacant years.

"It's one of the most historic structures in downtown Augusta. We want to bring it back to life," Maun said. "The train depot itself can be a fantastic collection of shops, stores and restaurants."

Maun says what happens next is in the city's hands.

"We need information about the city's vision and we need cooperation." Maun said. "That is all."

Commissioners were expected to talk about the bids this week. That meeting was canceled because they did not have a quorum. The city could take up the topic as early as next week.

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