The Downtown Development Authority came to the commission meeting to talk depot project. Something it’s been working on for more than two years, and some Augusta city leaders are ready to get the project off the ground.
“I’m personally ready to see a deal with the depot property. I think it’s time and I think what we’ve been hearing, it’s a great opportunity for Augusta. I’m ready to move forward,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Mary Davis.
The only thing that’s moved on the depot property though is a parking lot for Unisys,
But now Commissioners are moving to approving in concept more than $14 million dollars in bonds for the development
However, with a radical change in the plan, saying the entire project must be built at once instead of phased in.
“This changes the deal substantially and, basically, they passed a resolution that the developer has not seen yet. So it will be up to the developer to accept or reject it,” said Executive Director Margaret Woodard Executive Director of the Downtown Devleopment Authority.
Mayor Davis said the commission shouldn’t be changing the potential deal after months of discussions.
“I think that’s wrong, I think that’s not prudent, and it’s inconsistent with how the project was brought to us,” said Mayor Davis.
But other say this protects tax dollars.
“They’re not guaranteed to do phase two. They do just phase one to the tune of fifty million dollars, we still contribute 14 million dollars, that’s a 43 million dollar difference. There’s no guarantee they’re going to do phase two. So what we’re doing is projecting on this government,” said Commissioner Ben Hasan.
“The city’s had since November to start working on all this and at the 11th hour just changes the deal. I don’t think it sends a real strong message that we’re open for business.” said Woodard.
“Could this kill the deal?” we asked.
“It could yes,” said Woodard.
It was the City Administrator who recommended having the project built at once, instead of phases.
Commissioner Sean Frantom called it a sad day for Augusta, Mayor Davis added that if commissioners wanted to injure this $93 million dollar project, this was the way to do it.