Augusta Housing & Development says Beacon Station is encouraging more development in the area

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More apartments are available for lease at Beacon Station in the Augusta Medical District.

The City of Augusta invested $37.5 million into the area on Wrightsboro road at R.A. Dent Boulevard near the Medical and Dental Colleges as part of it redevelopment effort in the Laney Walker- Bethlehem neighborhood.

“It’s just an exciting time really to be here in Laney Walker- Bethlehem doing the work that we do,” says Augusta Housing and Development Director Hawthorne Welcher.

Welcher describes why the city invested in the area.

“If you rewind a little bit and you talk about what was there for beacon station before. there were 7 acres of abandonment and blight,” Welcher says.

Welcher says demand pushed them to open the first 2 of 6 apartment buildings early back in July. The remaining four buildings opened this month. He says the complex is about 30% full now.

“Beacon Station was important from the standpoint of increasing the average household incomes so now we’re actually able to have true conversations with urban grocery stores who are able to come in the area. Actually able to have true conversations with commercial and retail healthy food outlets who are ready to come into the neighborhood,” Welcher explains.

Beacon Station is full of market-rate apartments so Welcher points out his department continues to stay committed to affordable housing efforts as well.

“Beacon Station is very very important, but affordable housing, workforce housing is equally important as well,” Welcher says. “We are just really diversifying in regards to the types of products that we’re putting on the ground.”

When the upscale apartments started to go up here, there was some hesitation. People wondered if others would even want to live at Beacon Station, mainly because of safety concerns.

NewsChannel 6 asked for the 911 reports for the first 6 months that people have lived at Beacon Station to see if we could learn something about the safety of the location so far.

The report shows any time a Richmond County first responder was dispatched to the address. From July to December, the majority of the entries were for a special duty officer. There was one report of a suspicious person, one for a suspicious vehicle, one for a damage/ vandalism and one for a theft.

Augusta Housing and Development Director Hawthorne Welcher says the small number of criminal reports over the first 6-month period marks a success since people who live at Beacon Station say they feel safe and they love living there.

Welcher says another measure of success is the additional development that is coming soon.

“Another way that we see success is just the residual impact in and around the 7 acre development,” Welcher says about the construction across the street.

When the city bought the Beacon Station property, it also bought lots across the street. The city has since sold those lots to a private developer who is building single family homes.

“That’s what it was all about. It was a commitment of $37.5 million when we started, but the push from your Mayor and Commission was, they wanted it to yield a $125 million worth of investment so we see that residual investment happening right before our eyes,” Welcher says.

The Housing and Development Department says they have some more announcements coming in February related to future housing developments in the Laney Walker Bethlehem Neighborhood.

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