Hotel planned for old jail site in Downtown Augusta put on hold

AUGUSTA, GA (WJBF) - Construction on a future hotel is now stalled. The Courtyard Marriott was expected for the corner of James Brown Boulevard and Reynolds Street in Downtown Augusta.

Augusta Riverfont LLC is the developer. Commissioner Sean Frantom says they got an email from the company’s president, Paul Simon, saying the hotel planned for downtown is now on hold. The reason they were given is that the cost did not meet demand.

On Monday, we talked to Salvatore Rizzo, the owner of a local art gallery two doors down from the planned hotel. He says he was looking forward to the new hotel bringing more foot traffic into his business.

“I do art, fine art, but also there's a black light theme to it also. It pops really good at night! I was hoping to get a lot of that night time atmosphere to come in here,” Rizzo says. “You have the Marriott right there and that brings a little bit of business, but having one right here—it'd bring more traffic flow through here.”

Rizzo explains when he opened his shop in July of 2017, he chose the location on James Brown Boulevard intentionally. He says part of the reason he chose the spot was because of the hotel he was told was coming to the corner.

“If it's not coming, that's not good for me. It's going to hurt me. I might have to move up somewhere on Broad Street,” Rizzo says.

The site was once the home to the old historic jail. More than a year ago, the jail came down and the land was cleared to make way for the hotel.

Beamies on the River sits right across the street. Restaurant Manager, Alexis Fisher, says she hated watching the old jail come down for a hotel to take its place.

“I don't feel like it was necessary to tear down a historic building if they were going to stop the construction on [the hotel],” Fisher says.

The city agreed to lease out 100 spaces from their parking deck across the street at $65 per spot per month—a total of $78,000 per year. The city tells NewsChannel 6 they are still waiting to hear back from Augusta Riverfront LLC about the future of those spots.


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