AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – If you’re driving in downtown Augusta, you may have already noticed renovations being done to one of the city’s centerpieces.
Elevator access for talent, a Telfair St. entrance, and a 75% increase in restroom facilities are just a few of the many plans for the Bell Auditorium.
This is all being done with the future in mind.
“The theme that the design team used was ‘Behind the Curtain’,” said Senior Project Manager Joe Kinsey of McKnight Construction.
“We’re going to have this custom brick pattern that’s going to end up looking like a stage curtain,” said Kinsey. “And, so with it being really high, it’s going to give the effect of- as much as brick can do to be a stage curtain.”
While removing lobby carpet, workers discovered the Bell Auditorium’s original terrazzo flooring. They are now looking at preserving this piece of Augusta’s history.
Another big improvement is also underway…
“We didn’t have enough restrooms,” said Cedric Johnson, Chairman of Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority. “So, we’ll have about 75 percent more restrooms for men and women.”
Several new amenities to accommodate highly sought-after artists and shows are also in store, like elevator access to dressing and common rooms.
“We have artists calling us,” said Brad Usry, Vice Chairman of Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority. “They’ve heard about the renovation. Word travels fast with most artists that we’re renovating. And, so, we’ve got requests already. And so, I imagine our lineup in opening will be pretty impressive.”
Work on the Bell Auditorium began this spring. Leaders on the project are hopeful this is just phase one of redevelopment for the Augusta Entertainment Complex.
Augusta voters will decide in November if the James Brown Arena will be next.
“The most important thing to me,” said Usry. “Forty percent of this project- the new area project- is going to be paid for by visitors, not residents. And that’s the fairest way to fund this project. And this C-SPLOST is dedicated just to the arena and it will be administered by the Coliseum Authority.”
Usry tells us that 92% of dollars spent on the Bell renovations are going to Georgia companies, with 66 percent going to companies right here in the CSRA and 26 percent going to minority companies. They plan to keep those percentages the same when working on the arena.
“It’s so important, if we want to move Augusta forward, that we get people to come out and vote,” said Johnson. “The new arena will be a great asset to Augusta.”
Augusta-Richmond County residents will vote on C-SLPOST on November 7th. Early voting begins October 16th.