Augusta downtown development hits brick wall

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at six o'clock, April 14, 2008

Augusta, GA---A major downtown development on the site of the old Augusta Police Department is literally running into a brick wall. One small business owner says the project could force him out of business.

Augusta's skyline is set to take on a whole new shape. An 8 story hotel development is now in the works. "I think it's a great idea. I think it would be great for my business," said Jason Hough.

Jason is renting the building right behind the suggested site...the old Augusta Police Department. But there's a problem.

"I like the whole idea. I'm just kinda scared about the wall issue," said Jason.

Jason's has a shop called the Brass Ring. It shares a wall with the old police station. Employees are concerned if the wall comes down that Brass Ring will shut down.

"Hope not because it's a lot of stuff in here that would have to be moved out. We would have to start all over again," said Silas Jefferson.

They would have to abandon what Jason calls a prime spot...a mixed use development with a major hotel.

"It would bring a lot of people to my front door," said Jason.

It's a 30 million dollar project with 140 hotel rooms and 60 lofts along Reynolds Street.

"I can see where it would be great for downtown and great for Augusta. It'll be a good tax base, but I don't feel like I should be penalized for somebody else to make big bucks," said Joe Carswell. He owns the property.

It's true. Big bucks are in the forecast. An annual $300,000 in hotel tax alone and 80 new jobs. Of course, there are those holding out hope that their foundation is solid no matter what side of the wall their on.

"I'm looking forward to that big hotel moving on in here and bringing the work right in here to Brass Ring," said Silas.

There are still a lot more questions than answers at this point. The project is still in the planning stages. But first things first...there won't be a project unless the Augusta commission signs over a piece of city property...a small alley at 840 Reynolds Street.

And that's where things get sticky. Nearby property owners say they will not have access to Reynolds Street. It will force dump trucks, and delivery trucks to find alternate routes...not to mention parking.

"If we can work it out to everybody's satisfaction I think it would be great cause I want to see downtown come back, but at the same time, I don't want to lose my ability to get to and from my property," said Joe Carswell.


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