AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– New information on exactly how the Coliseum Authority decided to recommend the old Regency Mall location for a new James Brown Arena. Tuesday, the authority met for the first time since the controversial decision to build on the former mall site.
The Coliseum Authority hired Sink Combs Architecture out of Denver to take on the task of rebuilding the James Brown Arena. The contractors presented a list of locations to the board in December– all based in Downtown Augusta, including the existing arena location, the parking lot of the existing arena, Upper Broad and Lower Broad.
“The trends, as we said in the beginning of the presentation, was that arenas really are coming back downtown, and that is not just arenas. People are coming back downtown. Businesses are coming back downtown, so it’s a nationwide trend,” Michael Harvey with Sink Combs Architecture said.
In January’s board meeting, the firm presented plans for the four original sites. Mayor Hardie Davis was there.
After that, the committee requested the firm to asses locations at Riverwatch and at a Post Office site. In May came the request to review the Regency Mall site.
“Being honest with you, there was as group who saw that site as a possible site, and there was another group of us who did not see that as the best site. If we would have gone by the scoring of the experts, then the current site then the current site would have come in as the site that we should continue to keep the arena on,” Cedric John, the Authority’s chairman, said.
In August, the Coliseum Authority voted 4 to 2 to build the new arena at the Regency Mall location.
“If in the beginning it had been established that revitilizing South Augusta was a major goal, we would have had to work with that as a criteria, I guess. It just wasn’t a part of the original criteria. To do more detailed analysis of test fit, architectural style, programming, so upon the Coliseum Authority giving us direction to move forward with whatever site they would like, then we will move to the next phase of our contract,” Harvey explained.
“I’m hoping that we can have the best choice, the things that create the synergy for Downtown and for Augusta. I’m hoping we can get to a point where we can get it downtown. Now if the votes are for it to go out to Regency Mall, then we will have to try to make the best of it,” Johnson said.
Johnson told NewsChannel 6 that the Mayor and Darren Smith, An Authority member, asked him to look into the old Regency Mall location. The county commission gets the final vote on the location.