‘Beacon Bluff’ seen as key in revitalizing downtown N. Augusta

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 2:46 PM EST
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - On Thursday afternoon, plans were unveiled for a new development project envisioned as the gateway into North Augusta.

Located directly across from the municipal center on Georgia Avenue, Beacon Bluff will be a mixed-use development including restaurants, retail space, professional space and apartments.

The development is named for an iconic tower, or “beacon,” planned to distinguish the site, and will feature a courtyard to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists from the adjacent Greeneway.

“It’s new restaurants, it’s new retail, it’s bringing something to the downtown that I think’s badly needed,” said Brett Brannon, President of Palmetto Peach Development.

The proposal is coming from North Augusta Forward, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the city’s downtown, and Palmetto Peach Development.

Beacon Bluff is the product of a years-long project by North Augusta Forward to revitalize the building that once housed North Augusta’s skating rink, and the surrounding area.

North Augusta Forward bought the property in 2018 and worked with Main Street America to form a vision for how the vacant land might become a vibrant, welcoming gateway into North Augusta’s downtown.

“So to be honest, I never thought this vision of downtown North Augusta would happen. What’s super exciting is that each level of development and investment we’ve seen has just added on and provided so many things to do throughout the whole year,” said James Whitehead, who lives in North Augusta.

In 2022, North Augusta Forward sold the property to Palmetto Peach Development with the express goal of bringing that vision to life. After a year of planning and design, Beacon Bluff will fulfill North Augusta Forward’s mission of downtown revitalization through the improvement of these landmark properties.

According to Palmetto Peach Development, renovations on The Rink are well underway. The 12,000-square-foot building is scheduled for completion in spring of 2024, and 80% of the first-floor space has been leased to new businesses.

Fleet Feet, a retail store specializing in running and walking shoes, athletic apparel and other active gear, will be opening its second location in the CSRA at The Rink.

The owners, North Augusta residents Jenafer and Michael McCauley, hope that the development’s proximity to the Greeneway and the riverfront might add to the success of Fleet Feet’s popular running and walking groups.

The Rink will also feature Melty, a specialty grilled cheese restaurant offering soups and salads alongside an array of gourmet sandwiches. Palmetto Peach Development will be leasing four two-bedroom apartments on the second floor, but the group says one first-floor suite is still available.

Additionally, Palmetto Peach Development will be adding two new buildings nearby: a 25,000-square-foot building on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Center Street, and a 3,600-square-foot building on the corner of Bluff Avenue and West Avenue.

Similar to the Rink, these buildings will host a variety of retail, restaurant, and professional tenants, with apartments above.

These buildings, together with the Rink, will form the entire development of Beacon Bluff.

“The goal of Beacon Bluff is to meet three objectives consistently identified by citizens in our community: more restaurant, retail, and downtown living options; the completion of the riverfront development; and a thriving and revitalized downtown,” said Brett Brannon, who leads Palmetto Peach Development. “In short, we want to help create the best possible quality of life for the people of North Augusta.”

Locals are excited about what this could do for the city.

“The type of development we’re seeing in downtown North Augusta is going to target exactly the type of families and young professionals that we would love to have in this community,” said Whitehead.

It’s bringing in more people or potentially bringing them back.

“People that might have grown up here graduated and would have typically moved away off to college and never come back. I think now we have the opportunity to attract those families back to North Augusta. And then, you know, just give them things to do as a family and give more opportunity to people for want to start a small business,” he said.

Brannon added that Beacon Bluff is on track to be completed by January 2025.