AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – City leaders were quick to embrace the blight ordinance however, they did not embrace using it here at the old Regency Mall site. City leaders are saying they’re not saying never, but they’re certainly saying not now.
Regency Mall has been out of business for nearly 20 years. Commissioner John Clarke is saying now is the time to get the owners to clean it up.
“Let’s show the people we’re taking actions on something. We’re not going after it for eminent domain, we’re not going after it to take it over, we’re going after it to get them to do something about it,” said Commissioner John Clarke.
But Clarke’s proposal to use the new blight ordinance, which allows taxes to be increased seven times on properties designated as blighted until their fixed up, was rejected.
“Because I don’t think it’s something the commission need to direct it needs to come from code enforcement and any other agency that deals with blight in our community,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.
Others concerns, the City could end up as the new mall owners.
“But we don’t want to buy the property and put it on the backs of the citizens. Obviously we’ll hold them accountable more,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.
“We have an ordinance and a law that says you have to abide by certain codes, so what are they going to do, force us to buy it? I don’t think so,” said Commissioner Clarke.
But City officials are saying Regency Mall is on a list of properties to be inspected by code enforcement.
“Is it going to be looked at this year, next year, year after when is that list going to be addressed,” said Clarke.
City leaders are expressing concerns about how much it could cost using the blight ordinance here at Regency Mall however, with the $82 Million the City is receiving from the American Rescue plan, a portion of those funds can be used to battle blight.