Updated at 5:00 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – In about two months the CSRA could see plans for the new James Brown Arena. The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted in favor of rebuilding the entertainment venue at the current site.
Augusta Coliseum Authority Vice Chairman Brad Usry told us, “The bottom line Augusta deserves a new arena.”
And it will get one.
The Authority voted 5-1 during a special meeting Tuesday.
Booker Robinson, Coliseum Authority Member, was the first to put the motion on the floor.
“Everything moving downtown, Cyber and everything so, stay downtown,” he told us after the meeting.
Usry said the meeting comes after Mayor Hardie Davis sent a letter July 1 to Chairman Cedric Johnson.
He calls for the Authority to rally behind a new arena at the current location. It also follows talks from commissioners to remove certain members due to term limits.
“We’re playing from the same playbook,” Usry said. “We just had a little disagreement on the location.”
Talks about the JBA stem back to 2015. And in 2017, the idea of moving the entertainment facility to the old Regency Mall in South Augusta came into play, a decision that has stalled the Authority on finalizing a decision until now.
Johnson exclaimed, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to do something really good for this community to help put us on the map when it comes to entertainment.”
The lone member opposing the decision said he thinks 15th and Walton Way would have been better.
“A lot of land there and a lot of redevelopment and economic impact that it could have there versus where it is now,” said Darren Smith. “I think where it is now the economic impact is going to be pretty limited in my opinion.”
We spoke with some Augustans who frequent downtown and they too support keeping the JBA where it currently is located.
“I love coming downtown. Having graduations down here gives us reasons to come down here. I think it’s a great place. The location is good. There may be issues with parking, but having so many people there at one time for a graduation, that’s to be expected,” Cynthia Walden, of Augusta, said adding that she also saw a lot of people in South Augusta at one point. “And, I love the Regency Mall area.”
Drew Garren, who also lives in Augusta, added, “I work for Tax Slayer. They’ve been in Evans a long time. Still have a location there. Bought the old YMCA and renovated it, turned it into a beautiful office. They did that kind of with the idea that the Cyber Center is here. There is a huge technology wave that’s taking over downtown Augusta and you see growth around that.”
Usry said the architects will have renderings in about 8 weeks for the public to see and decide where the new building will go on the site. He said the JBA will remain open during construction.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Plans move forward for a new James Brown Arena.
This comes after the Coliseum Authority’s special meeting to vote on the current site. The group voted 5-1.
Now, Brad Usry says the company Perkins and Will have the green light to complete an 8-week analysis that offers renderings and flyovers to help educate the public.
“The energy of downtown is a big reason to stay where you are,” says Usry. “And plus, every area that is built in the country today is built in a downtown setting.”
That $140-thousand dollar analysis is already funded. Usry expects the public will see the first renderings by fall.