WJBF Investigates: South Augusta Amphitheater Project - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF Investigates: South Augusta Amphitheater Project

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We are investigating what could be a new music venue in south Augusta. The proposed plan is to build a music amphitheater at the corner of Phinizy Road and Peach Orchard Road.

The big announcement came last month from a development group who claimed they wanted to turn that old drive-in movie theater property into an outdoor music arena that could seat nearly 20,000 people.

The developer wasn't at the press conference last month… instead, a local engineer made the announcement. He told us about the developer's plan to bring several concerts to the venue during the week of Masters. That engineer backed out of the project last week, so we started investigating.

We've spent a lot of time looking into this project. A little more than week ago, we received a tip that the developer was asking local businesses to help sponsor the event. The business owner told us that they felt something fishy was going on. So after doing some research, we uncovered the past of the man behind the project.

Late last month, Engineer Lawson Graham showed us the plans for the amphitheater that could be built in south Augusta. We called Graham last week to check in on the project and to our surprise, we found out he was no longer involved.

"That is correct. I am completely out of the production in any way," says Graham.

With less than three weeks to go until the planned concerts and not much information about the actual events… we called the developer to ask the questions many people in Augusta were wondering.

I said, "you got some pretty substantial work ahead of you, if that's what you are planning on doing, do you still see that feasible at this point?"

Developer Charles Collins replied, "yes."

I asked, "So you still think you can make it happen?"

"Yes," says Collins.

According to Department of Corrections Records, Collins served time in North Carolina on several counts of obtaining property through false pretenses. Several newspaper articles chronicle how Collins plead no-contest to financial crimes related to projects at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

"It was out of my control. I mean, they used technical issues to try and get me away from the track. And they did, they succeeded, but they failed to really cover their bases and I do have evidence to go back and to correct those issues," says Collins.

With Augusta Attorney Tim Moses at his side, Collins told us that he needed help to keep this project moving.

I asked him, "How can people trust you, knowing what your past is?"

"That's why I have a lawyer on board now," says Collins.

Collins says that his attorney is helping him with the necessary paper work to get this project going. The land at the corner of Peach Orchard Road and Phinizy Road is owned by a local church. Last week, the church's pastor told me that Collin's lease with the property had expired and that the church no longer has anything to do with him. We asked Collins about that.

"The attorney is getting a new contract for… they are going to redo the lease and to cover the Master's week for us," says Collins.

As for the promised big acts… Collins says that he is trying to bring in a rock musician and pop star Katy Perry.

"You know, we want to revitalize that area over there. It is in need of some restoration in that area. And we feel that if we put this music venue over there, it will start bringing in other businesses back on that side, some nicer steak houses, restaurants" says Collins.

Collins says that he still needs to obtain a business license and says he will need sponsors to get behind this concert series. He says the Masters event will be a kick-off event and that he hopes enough of Augusta will get behind it that he can buy the property out there to start building.

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