Historic Mills Could Be Part Of GRU - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Historic Mills Could Be Part Of GRU

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For the city of Augusta it's a royal idea, get GRU expand to the old King and Sibley Mills.

"Thinking like an 18 year old if we are able to do this as your trying to increase student population kids with Kayaks and mountain bikes, those facilities back up to 2000 acres of permanently protected green space," says Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

And there is space, more than a million square feet in between both mills,

For weeks Augusta city leaders have quietly discussing supporting getting GRU to move in.

"A million square feet for classrooms, we can use for living space we can use for small businesses cafe's all under one area, says Commissioner Donnie Smith.

Though there's a vision of this canal campus for GRU, the mayor points out the idea is only in its infancy, but says GRU has been so far  receptive and so should Augusta.

"You're talking community revitalization with what this would do for Harrisburg if we are able to do this it  is a win, win, win," says Copenhaver.

"If this passes, the majority of the money is going to come from the state level the Board of Regents there will be very little impact on the county government as far as the taxpayers" says Smith.

The two mills are owned by The Augusta Canal Authority, the authority paid a little more than a million dollars for both mills and Authority Chairman Richard Isdell is on board with a potential new use.

"I don't think we could ever find a better tenant than the one we are looking at right now," said Isdell.

But Isdell says the Authority isn't of the mind of just giving the mills to GRU.

"We wouldn't give it away but we wouldn't have to make a lot off it either, he said.

Like many places in Augusta the mills have a rail line close by, in fact one runs just a few yards from Sibley Mill.  

And though this proposal to get GRU on board to move to the mills is on track a train could tie up traffic.

 "We would like to see CSX move the tracks and maybe that would be possible," said Isdell.

The city is also pushing a downtown cultural campus approach that would compliment and not compete with the Mills Campus.

Last year the state gave the old Golf Hall of fame property downtown to the new University, Commissioner Donnie Smith says that parcel already belongs to the state and is now part of the proposal as of yet.

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