Plans OK’d for new apartments and growth in downtown Augusta

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 7:05 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - On Tuesday, commissioners gave the green light to start construction for a new complex at the corner of Ellis and Greene streets downtown.

The city’s Downtown Development Authority says there are plans for 615 new apartment units over the next few years.

On just about every corner downtown, you’ll see signs of growth.

“Now is a great time for all downtowns. It’s kind of like everything goes in a full circle,” said Margaret Woodard, DDA director.

Tuesday commission approved a request to build a five-story extended stay hotel across from Davidson Fine Arts School on 13th Street.

They also approved the Atticus, an 82-unit luxury apartment complex on Ellis Street.

“We just know that that would make such a difference--to have a downtown living and what it can do for downtowns development,” she said.

Most of the new housing options are market-rate prices. Data from the DDA in 2021 found the average household income within a mile radius of downtown is only $42,000 per year.

To get a market-rate two-bedroom apartment is about $1,600 a month. Someone with that salary would be paying more than 30% of their income on rent. Which the housing authority considers ‘rent overburden.’

Jordan Johnson, homelessness task force, co-chairman said: “In welcoming people to Augusta, we have to protect those who have been here for decades.”

We spoke to Johnson about the need for affordable housing and policy that protects current residents from being kicked out because of growth.

“It’s important to have policies on the book that will include them in the development and the growth that is going on in Augusta,” he said.

New growth does have benefits for everyone.

Both leaders say affordable and market-rate development is important to Augusta’s growth. As part of the homelessness task force, Johnson says they’ll be looking and zoning policies to prioritize affordable housing.

Woodward said: “The more people you have living downtown that’s going to help recruit the much-needed grocery store.”

Additional Commission Updates:
  • Homeless Taskforce update passed. The Homelessness Task Force & HCD will bring back recommendations for how to implement the strategic plan in 90-120 days. Aspects are already in place. Partnering with local organizations to form day shelters, but other aspects still need money--like hiring the coordinator to manage the plan and building the supportive housing.
  • The Atticus and Extended Stay Hotel were passed.
  • Bathrooms at Diamond Lakes have been closed due to plumbing and drainage issues. Alvin Mason claims 400-1000 people are using the park a day. He says it is essential restrooms are provided. The city has additional porta-potties on the way and is working to fix the drainage issues. There is no timeline for the project.

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