Augusta's Mayor Pro-Tem Not Hip To Plan For Jazz Cafe - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Augusta's Mayor Pro-Tem Not Hip To Plan For Jazz Cafe

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Augusta, GA -

There's work to do at the old Augusta Chamber of Commerce building, on Broad Street in Augusta.

For one thing, asbestos needs to be removed, but once the cleanup and renovations are done, Mayor Deke Copenhaver sees the building springing to life, with the sounds of jazz.

"It's really to mix the uses. You will have some incubator space, you will have community space, we're looking at having a jazz cafe element of it, but it's really supposed to be a central gathering place for the community," said the Mayor.

"The cafe thing threw me for a loop. There's been a lot of talk, people are calling asking questions about it," says Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson. 

Johnson says, when the Augusta Commission approved $100,000 for renovating the old chamber building last year, it was to be for a high tech business incubator, and there was no talk of a creating a jazz cafe.

"No, the last conversation we had about that was actually the incubator," said Johnson.

The Mayor says the tech incubator will be part of the building, sharing space with the jazz cafe. 

"Mix the uses, you know, have techies, have artists, have community gathering space," said Copenhaver.

The Mayor says, under the plan, the city would rent space to a private business to establish the jazz cafe, with the city still owning the building. 

"Any concerns that we bring in a private business to run a jazz club? Is that something the city should be doing in that building?" we asked Johnson. "No, of course, I know for the most part that was not the notion of the Commission to move in that direction, if you will, so we need to find out exactly what they're talking about doing here," said Johnson.

The Mayor sees the renovations at the building being completed by late this year or early next year, with the tech incubator and jazz cafe up and running. But, Commissioners who were not aware of the full details of the plan will want to know how this will operate and the impact it will have on city finances first.

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