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Old 08-09-2015, 07:33 AM
 
6,230 posts, read 5,066,806 times
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I hope with the infusion of TSPLOST funds over the next decade to improve infrastructure downtown, Augusta will start to see more investment.

Quote:
This summer, an Augusta Chronicle reporter performed a walking canvass of downtown blocks – along Broad Street between Fifth and 13th streets, and the side streets from Greene to Reynolds – and found that of the roughly 415 storefronts and standalone buildings in that area, about 37 percent were vacant.
The vacancy rate for storefronts along Broad Street fared better – at 32 percent – than the cross streets, which were about 45 percent empty.
Upper downtown blocks also remain livelier, with unique restaurants and a diverse nightlife scene.
From 13th to Eighth streets – where most of downtown’s new eateries are located – just under 28 percent of commercial property is unoccupied. From Eighth to Fifth streets – more prevalent with boarded-up and derelict buildings – the vacancy rate is a more glaring 51 percent.
When compared to a Chronicle story published in 2011 that detailed the Augusta Downtown Development Authority’s audit of a similar section of downtown, these recent statistics show that the overall revitalization picture downtown has not improved in the past four years.
In fact, the survey, which only omitted the Greene Street cross section, revealed that the vacancy rate downtown was a lower 22 percent in 2011. Then, only one in eight storefronts on Broad Street west of James Brown Boulevard was unoccupied, and the ratio to the east was one in three.
“You have blocks that are underdeveloped in downtown,” DDA Executive Director Margaret Woodard said. “I know what we need to do, and it’s something that the DDA is looking at, is what kind of further incentives can we offer.”
Woodard said she is compiling an inventory of occupied commercial storefronts downtown, but it is not yet completed. Right now, she said, she is more focused on keeping track of when empty storefronts are filled by new tenants.
In 2014 and 2013, there were net gains of 17 and 12 businesses, respectively, she said, though she could not provide an overall number of downtown businesses.
“We’re looking at commercial occupancy rates,” she said. “We’re trying to get a grasp on that as well.”
Woodard agreed there was scarce development activity in middle and lower portions of Broad Street and pointed to a lack of “foot traffic generators” along those blocks as a hindrance. The upper section of downtown has the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center to drive movement, she said.
Woodard believes the new Holiday Inn Express on the 400 block of Broad Street, IT firm Unisys relocating to 1 Seventh St., and future renovation of the old Woolworth building at 802 Broad St. will help spur investment there.
Downtown Augusta redevelopment still stagnant | The Augusta Chronicle
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Old 08-09-2015, 08:12 AM
 
Location: I-20 from Atlanta to Augusta
1,313 posts, read 1,482,425 times
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It's going to remain that way until we attract some larger employers to locate downtown. Unisys is a start but the city needs more like it to form a cluster. With all the problems with taxes in the northeast Augusta should try and make a run at Textron since one of its subsidiaries in Club Car is already here. Augusta needs a corporate base particularly downtown, that coupled with growing GRU and adding some more entertainment venues like a new arena or performing arts center will help revitalize downtown Augusta. Downtown already has charm and a bunch of small business owners, all it needs is some heavy hitters and being home to one of the Cyber legs of the military should help as well.
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Old 08-09-2015, 09:17 AM
 
6,230 posts, read 5,066,806 times
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While I concur with your assessment about investment in downtown Augusta. I do have to wonder how realistic would it be for Textron or ADP to move their HQ's from the Northeast to DT Augusta. It would be nice though if they did. Looking at DT Greenville, their downtown is successful and they don't have any major F500 companies HQ'ed in their downtown. I believe for right now, Augusta leaders should focus on cleaning up the downtown landscape, repair infrastructure, improving parking and providing loans for people to set up businesses downtown. Another program I would love to see started for downtown Augusta, is a program to provide low interest loans to people to buy homes and condos in the downtown. I believe if institutions like GRU, Doctors Hospital and Unisys came together to provide funding for a program like this, you would see more people moving downtown.
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Old 08-09-2015, 09:38 AM
 
Location: I-20 from Atlanta to Augusta
1,313 posts, read 1,482,425 times
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What Greenville has done to its urban core is truly remarkable and I think represents an anomaly in urban growth. Not to knock Augusta and all but I don't see it succeeding in the same context. To me Augusta must take a similar approach as Raleigh and build downtown up with education, corporate presence, and the right kind of infrastructure. We have GRU which is a start and that part will take care of itself in time. We however need a larger corporate presence downtown. I think Augusta could be marketable. The city is home to the Augusta National Golf Club which alone is a huge tool.
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:02 PM
 
Location: Savannah GA
13,420 posts, read 16,894,837 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpatt.marine1 View Post
It's going to remain that way until we attract some larger employers to locate downtown. Unisys is a start but the city needs more like it to form a cluster. With all the problems with taxes in the northeast Augusta should try and make a run at Textron since one of its subsidiaries in Club Car is already here. Augusta needs a corporate base particularly downtown, that coupled with growing GRU and adding some more entertainment venues like a new arena or performing arts center will help revitalize downtown Augusta. Downtown already has charm and a bunch of small business owners, all it needs is some heavy hitters and being home to one of the Cyber legs of the military should help as well.
Downtown Augusta most definitely has a unique set of challenges not faced by the other 2nd-tier cities. Attracting more employers may bring more people downtown during the daytime on weekdays, but what happens after they all go home? There is also the problem of access to downtown: Is it possible for thousands more people to commute into the heart of the city daily with the road network that currently exists? Downtown Augusta seems so far removed from the city's main arteries.

And while I hear Augustans talk about downtown's 'charms' ... I fail to see it. Maybe I just haven't looked hard enough, but outside of a couple of blocks the stock of historic buildings in downtown Augusta has never impressed me (unlike the architecture in downtown Macon). Oh, and those parking things in the middle of Broad Street are simply awful. There's also an unfortunate disconnect between the downtown and the river (unlike Columbus). Those are the things that need serious attention IMO.

It's a shame that GRSU through the years has not been persuaded to establish a greater presence downtown like Columbus State in Columbus and Mercer in Macon and SCAD in Savannah and Georgia State in Atlanta. As history has shown, nothing breathes new life into decaying downtowns better than an influx of college students.

Last edited by Newsboy; 08-09-2015 at 11:11 PM..
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:38 AM
 
29,761 posts, read 27,191,110 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpatt.marine1 View Post
What Greenville has done to its urban core is truly remarkable and I think represents an anomaly in urban growth. Not to knock Augusta and all but I don't see it succeeding in the same context. To me Augusta must take a similar approach as Raleigh and build downtown up with education, corporate presence, and the right kind of infrastructure.
I don't think Raleigh would be the best model here; historically its downtown hasn't really had a large corporate presence for its size due to the proximity of RTP, which is truly the region's CBD. It's mainly the schools and government offices that has kept the CBD viable and in more recent years, there has been some corporate movement into the core. Downtown Augusta's biggest asset is the Savannah River, and I think Chattanooga serves as an excellent model in terms of capitalizing on such an asset to spur downtown revitalization.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newsboy View Post
Downtown Augusta most definitely has a unique set of challenges not faced by the other 2nd-tier cities. Attracting more employers may bring more people downtown during the daytime on weekdays, but what happens after they all go home? There is also the problem of access to downtown: Is it possible for thousands more people to commute into the heart of the city daily with the road network that currently exists? Downtown Augusta seems so far removed from the city's main arteries.
I don't think access is a big problem; Riverwatch Pkwy and Calhoun Expy/Sand Bar Ferry Rd are major arterials that provide relatively easy access to downtown. But I do think improved signage could help here.

Quote:
And while I hear Augustans talk about downtown's 'charms' ... I fail to see it. Maybe I just haven't looked hard enough, but outside of a couple of blocks the stock of historic buildings in downtown Augusta has never impressed me (unlike the architecture in downtown Macon). Oh, and those parking things in the middle of Broad Street are simply awful. There's also an unfortunate disconnect between the downtown and the river (unlike Columbus). Those are the things that need serious attention IMO.
I definitely agree with you about the disconnect between downtown and the river. The issue there is that removing the levee which is what separates them wouldn't be the easiest thing to do as it would literally take an act of Congress, but I still think it's worth pursuing. Aside from that, I think the proposal to extend Augusta Common towards the river would be very helpful, as would developing the old GGHF property.

Quote:
It's a shame that GRSU through the years has not been persuaded to establish a greater presence downtown like Columbus State in Columbus and Mercer in Macon and SCAD in Savannah and Georgia State in Atlanta. As history has shown, nothing breathes new life into decaying downtowns better than an influx of college students.
Agreed on this point also. Perhaps this is the direction the post-merger GRU will now take, but it will take time to see if the efforts bear any fruit in downtown. But the university's aspirations for a larger downtown presence combined with an influx of tech jobs in the area presents a unique opportunity for the city that I hope it truly takes full advantage of.
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Old 08-10-2015, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Hephzibah Ga
104 posts, read 69,314 times
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I definitely agree with you about the disconnect between downtown and the river. The issue there is that removing the levee which is what separates them wouldn't be the easiest thing to do as it would literally take an act of Congress, but I still think it's worth pursuing. Aside from that, I think the proposal to extend Augusta Common towards the river would be very helpful, as would developing the old GGHF property.



Agreed on this point also. Perhaps this is the direction the post-merger GRU will now take, but it will take time to see if the efforts bear any fruit in downtown. But the university's aspirations for a larger downtown presence combined with an influx of tech jobs in the area presents a unique opportunity for the city that I hope it truly takes full advantage of.[/quote]
The people here in Augusta may need to start a petition here to remove the levee cause I think that's the only way it will get done and I also think gru will need to invest in the mills project and start from there to develop more into downtown.
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