City leaders expect new apartments in Augusta’s Medical District will bring more business to the area.
The Beacon Station Apartment complex is now open. Some 220 market-rate apartments already have people living in them, while others are still under construction.
Ever since Kroger left 15th St., a grocery store has been at the top of the list when it comes to desired business in Harrisburg.
“Little Ms. Mable who stays in this area should not have to travel 5-7 miles to be able to get a half a gallon of milk. She should be able to buy that here in her neighborhood,” says Augusta Housing & Community Development Director Hawtorne Welcher.
Welcher explains that a big part of why the city invested in Beacon Station was to raise the average income level for the area and therefore, entice future development.
“Now we’re able to have conversations, legitimate conversations with grocers, with small mini markets, to say– ‘hey, you see the growth in the area?'” Welcher says.
Now that the economic development wheels are turning, Welcher wants to see city leaders take a more active approach to keep it going.
“Not just sit back and wait, but lets pick up the phone and visit pretty much the headquarters to have these conversations,” says Welcher.
NewsChannel 6 reporter Ashley Osborne asked the commissioner over the area, District 1 Commissioner Bill Fennoy, how those conversations are going.
“Whether it be Lidl, Aldi, Publix, Kroger, all of them–What’s that conversation been like because that’s been a big topic, people wanting a place to shop in their neighborhood?” NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Osborne asked.
“The biggest problem I see is the average income of the people who live in this area, as opposed to living on Washington Road or the South Augusta area. The Beacon project and other projects, like the other project that’s going up on 11th and Telfair Street, will help raise the average income of the people who live in this area,” Commissioner Fennoy answered.
Multiple people have said bringing a grocery store to downtown Augusta does not seem like a top priority for the District 1 commissioner. He says it is.
“It is a priority, but there’s just so much a commissioner can do to get a grocery store to come to this area. In the past, we’ve offered incentive to try to put together a package that would be attractive to grocery stores, but so far none of this has worked,” Commissioner Fennoy says.
The idea behind Beacon Station is that the apartments will drive change and bring more business to the Harrisburg area.