Timeline of Project Jackson: From the Beginning to Now
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Do you remember when Project Jackson was first announced? It seems like a distant memory now, and so much has happened since that December 2012 announcement. Relive every moment of Project Jackson below:
The City of North Augusta announces plans to develop the riverfront near Hammond’s Ferry. Rumors have circulated that Cal Ripken, owner of the Augusta GreenJackets, wants to move the team to a new stadium in that location.
Many Hammonds Ferry residents were “vehemently opposed” to the move, due to concerns of property values going down, lights, noise, and traffic.
Ballpark Digest reported that Ripken Baseball is in the process of selling the GreenJackets for $7.5 million.
A $150 million proposal of a new North Augusta complex named “Project Jackson” was unveiled, which would feature a resort-style hotel and a brand new baseball stadium for the Augusta GreenJackets.
The "Project Jackson" designation comes from the founder of North Augusta, James U. Jackson. In 1891, he called for the development of the North Augusta riverfront in his plan for the city.
The development would also have a 900-car parking deck, apartments, townhouses, a new Family YMCA, and space for offices, retail stores, and restaurants. Mayor Lark Jones commented, “This is the largest economic proposal ever made in the history of North Augusta.”
Signs across North Augusta show support for Project Jackson, in particular the new GreenJackets stadium, but not everyone is on board. Residents express concerns with how close the stadium would be to their homes, as well as concerns over funding by freezing property values of homes in the district.
Vote delayed on Tax Increment Financing for the new Project Jackson.
Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) announces support for Project Jackson, saying he would enjoy seeing the jobs created and the tax base created. “It’s the chicken and the egg,” Wilson said, “It also then leads to better school [and a] better quality of life.”
Aiken County approves Tax Increment Financing for the new Project Jackson in a vote 6-3. The vote was delayed and caused disagreements between council members. North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones remarked, “We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve said from the beginning this is an A to Z process and we are just getting into G and H and I and all that sort of stuff.”
North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover has plans to add public safety initiatives for Project Jackson to the 2014 proposed budget. Under the proposal, two more officers would be hired, a new precinct will be installed as part of the new development, and security cameras will be placed everywhere.
City council arguments begin over whether the riverfront region for Project Jackson is truly blighted. Residents like Steve Donohue say the area is not. News 12 took a look for ourselves with historian Tony Riley, who believes the plot of land containing abandoned factories and mills is definitely blighted.
North Augusta is sued by Steve Donohue along with the River Club Homeowners Association. Donohue and company argued that the city claimed the area was “blighted” in order to collect improvement funding for Project Jackson. They also argued that home values would depreciate in the area due to increased traffic and congestion.
Not all neighbors in River Club are agreeing with the lawsuit against Project Jackson. Resident Lee Wetherington said that he was surprised to find the suit was filed in the name of the Homeowner’s Association. “It should’ve just never been filed. If you were gonna file a lawsuit, I guess those were the proper things to put in there, but the fact is that’s not the route that we want to take,” he explained.
The Homeowners Association Board for the River Club has voted to remove itself from the lawsuit filed against North Augusta over Project Jackson, leaving Steve Donohue the sole defendant. The HOA Board claims that its President, Donohue, was the only board member who voted against the resolution to withdraw.
Another lawsuit filed in Project Jackson issue. The suit filed by North Augusta Riverfront company alleges that Steve Donohue "intentionally and improperly" interfered with the sale of the 45-acre stake of land where Project Jackson is expected to sit on North Augusta's riverfront.
New renderings of Project Jackson show more specifically where buildings and restaurants may be when the project is completed. Leaders are calling for the project to be completed by April 2016 but if the lawsuit isn’t taken care of soon, Glover says they may have to push that date back.
North Augusta City Council approved of hiring of Structured Parking Solutions, LLC to build parking decks for Project Jackson.
Steve Donohue and representatives meet in an Aiken courtroom to plea their cases. The arguments mainly centered around the word blight and whether or not the area where Project Jackson would go. Donohue spent nearly two hours on the stand trying to argue that point. “I would be a fool to be sitting here if I didn’t think I could win,” Donohue said.
The master developer of Project Jackson said that if the judge rules in favor of North Augusta and allows the plan to move forward, they expect to break ground in November. Their hope would be to have the entire project completed by the start of the 2016 baseball season.
North Augusta submits their paperwork for the judge to make a decision. Steve Donohue and his attorney do not.
North Augusta leaders are free to move forward with Project Jackson, after dealing with a lawsuit for six months which made them unable to.
Motion to reconsider Steve Donohue’s Project Jackson lawsuit is denied by a judge.
South Carolina Supreme Court to hear the Project Jackson lawsuit case. The city said they do not have a timetable for when the case will be seen and can’t say if it will delay the project.
The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled on two motions involving the city of North Augusta’s Project Jackson. One of the motions asked the Court to dismiss an appeal based upon the City’s feelings that Donohue’s initial appeal was not filed in a timely manner. This motion was denied. The second motion was to expedite the process of the case if the court would not dismiss the case outright. The second motion was granted.
North Augusta resident Steve Donohue submits brief to the S.C. Supreme Court to stop Project Jackson.
New design plans for Project Jackson have been released. The renderings show the most recent plans for the baseball stadium and other businesses planned along North Augusta's riverfront. The city is still waiting for a decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court before it can officially move forward with the project.
SC Supreme Court rules that North Augusta can move forward with Project Jackson.
Project Jackson is slated to bring new businesses to North Augusta, reaction between residents remain mixed. Augusta GreenJackets owner Jeff Eiseman says groundbreaking for the stadium will likely be as soon as September or October of this year.
City leaders are set to approval the final rezoning plans for Project Jackson.
The GreenJackets want to be in a new stadium by April 2017. North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover says to meet that deadline, they need to start clearing land by November or December of this year.
City of North Augusta discusses creating a municipal improvement district for Project Jackson, which would help the city recoup money through taxes, borrow up to $75 million to cover cost of new infrastructure around the development, and hopes to approve Project Jackson’s master development plan.
Trees are coming down on the very spot Project Jackson will go up, but while it might look like progress, that's not necessarily the case. North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover says the private owner is cutting down dead trees.
The project everyone has been waiting for is still up in the air as council discusses deals with developers.
City Council looked at their first contract with developers for the baseball stadium with a possible groundbreaking in May and a tight deadline to follow. However, council chose to table a vote for the contract, saying they are getting ahead of themselves.
Concerns are being raised over parking and traffic in the Project Jackson area. The city currently has plans for more than 2,000 parking spots around the project with two more parking decks coming.
City leaders could finally sign off on an agreement for the company expected to build the GreenJackets new stadium.
North Augusta's City Administrator Todd Glover says Augusta will see big benefits from Project Jackson
City Administrator Todd Glover released new renderings, detailing what the ball park, hotel, retail, apartments, office buildings, and more should look like.
Residents we talked to react positively to new Project Jackson renderings.
North Augusta will have to pay 35% of legal fees incurred by homeowner Steve Donohue, around $15,000. North Augusta Councilman Fletcher Dickert says it would only be fair to taxpayers that Donohue pay 65% of the city’s legal costs, especially since it wasn’t the city who initiated the suit.
North Augusta City Council members plan to talk about the $75 million proposal master development agreement, as well as stadium plans.
North Augusta City Council meets to vote on several key pieces for Project Jackson, including the Master Development Agreement.
City councilman Fletcher Dickert says Project Jackson work could start this year.
North Augusta and Greenstone debuted a video at the city council meeting, giving people a firsthand look at what Project Jackson will look like. The big question is what hotel, retail, and restaurants would be coming, but those names will not be revealed until 3rd reading which they expect in the next 2 weeks.
If the votes go as planned, there is hope to start grading this year and finish the stadium by 2018 opening day.
North Augusta's City Council holds a public forum on the Municipal Improvement District or MID. It protects the city's investment.
"It's just to keep track of hopefully getting something done in November to finalize this and begin to move forward," said City Administrator Todd Glover, "I think we'll be in a position to finalize everything this month."
"We do have some developers. They're up against timelines, and they want to get started," said North Augusta's Mayor, Lark Jones.
North Augusta estimates it will contribute $69 million to the project., that money comes from several places including stadium rent and parking revenue. The city is planning to pay the money over a 30 year time span, but the city says it's conservative because they don't account for any new restaurants opening in the city or how much tax money comes in.
North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones confirmed that he will not seek re-election. Jones said he wanted to see Project Jackson through but cannot go another four years.
The Aiken GOP Executive Committee has voted unanimously to put the $35 million Project Jackson stadium on the North Augusta city primary election ballot in February. The committee said that the vote will allow taxpayers to decide whether the city should build a minor league stadium without the prior approval of the voters.
The hope was Monday night's council meeting would be the final Project Jackson vote, but the city is optimistic with key developers in the crowd, they think the ballpark village is close to being a reality.
"People say well your hotel left you and that's not true," Glover said, "We've got a hotel lined up and I think people will be very excited about that."
The city says a third vote on the Project Jackson Master Development Agreement could still happen this year and a January groundbreaking is still in play.
Council's vote to allow Brasfield and Gorrie, the contractor, to start general site work for Project Jackson is a move forward, the first towards seeing new life by the river.
In the past council said they want all parts of the project in place before starting work, but say they feel confident enough to move forward before approving the master development agreement.
By mid-January the city's hope is an approved master development agreement and work under way for the ballpark village.
"People will see this and I think for all intents and purposes it is a beginning of the project," Glover said.
With the approval of the site work the city can still stop the work if there are further delays for Project Jackson.
People in North Augusta finally get to see construction equipment make its way to the riverfront. City crews will work to connect the sewer system this week before working on the rest of the infrastructure gets underway next week. North Augusta City Council approved the funding for infrastructure work, but the key to the project is the Master Development Agreement. The third reading is now a little further away.
City officials confirm Crowne Plaza will be the hotel chain for the hotel in Project Jackson.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, North Augusta City Council approved the second reading of the Master Development Agreement.
Crowne Plaza was officially named as the hotel chain for Project Jackson, but it could be awhile before we hear any more announcements.
Developers say they are waiting till a third reading, so tenants feel assured the project really is moving forward.
Brett Brannon and Bob Pettit, two North Augusta mayoral candidates, both talk about the importance of the next couple of years for North Augusta after Project Jackson starts coming online.
Pettit says Project Jackson construction will be one of the biggest roles for mayor over the next couple years. Brannon says he is cautiously optimistic about the project and says if done right it could be huge.
Excavation begins on the Project Jackson site. The older brick buildings that used to stand on the property are gone now. The city says the construction group is working on clearing the site and other infrastructure work in preparation to start work on the stadium once final approval is voted on.
Four years later, North Augusta is saying play ball for Project Jackson and development on the riverfront. North Augusta city council approves final reading for Project Jackson.
Four years later, North Augusta is saying play ball for Project Jackson and development on the riverfront. North Augusta city council approves final reading for Project Jackson. With the Master Development Agreement approved, construction on the stadium and the apartments are next up to bat.
A birdseye view of Project Jackson shows that crews started digging down to form the outline of a new baseball stadium. We're still waiting for the specific businesses to be announced, but Todd Glover says all the developers are in position, four of them in all. Greenstone handling the left field building, office building and retail and restaurant space. Ackerman Greestone is the hotel developer, LIV Development is the apartment developer and another developer yet to be named is over the senior housing facility.
It's the end of an era at Lake Olmstead Stadium. The Augusta Greenjackets hold their last home opener, they will relocate to North Augusta for the 2018 season.
Funding for Project Jackson is coming along slowly. Construction keeps moving along for North Augusta's field of dreams and people are anxiously waiting. Most of the construction focuses around the ballpark, which has a deadline of next April for opening day. But right now the city is only giving out a little money at a time for work.
"To this point we've been taking the stadium contract in pieces, so we would authorize and then the next piece so this was the third authorization," North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover said.
The city says they are still on budget and work is on track, but this is not the way funding will continue.
New North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit talks Project Jackson.
"It really becomes a destination and that's going to be my focus, the ball stadium is certainly a major part of it, but it's really the rest of the development that's going to make a destination for people," he said.
North Augusta leaders close on bonds, Project Jackson to move forward. "A lot of people were sitting back and waiting on those bonds to be issued and even in the two weeks since we've done that a lot has happened," Glover said.
Now with the city's $69.4 million investment, the stadium, apartments and now a fully financed hotel can get to work. Some people are still in a wait and see mode with Project Jackson though.
The City of North Augusta breaks ground on the new GreenJackets baseball field.
MiLB President Pat O'Connor says this will be a destination for the region.
Schoen says this stadium will be a top 5 ballpark in minor league baseball.
In a season full of lasts for the Augusta GreenJakcets, the
at Lake Olmstead Stadium is bittersweet.
Project Jackson is pushing forward at the future North Augusta Ballpark. But it's what's popping up behind the progress that's drawing attention. Originally designed with the historic hotel in mind,
leaves more to be desired for some.