Why Commission voted down upscale apartment complex

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Foundry Place was expected to be catalyst for economic development in the Laney Walker Bethlehem area, by bringing new residents with higher average incomes to the neighborhood.

“In order to get businesses to locate in my district in this area we’ve got to have more than low income houses,” said Commissioner Bill Fennoy who represents the area.

But the idea has become a dead end as commissioners rejected the plan to issue up to 28 million dollars in bonds for Foundry Place.

“The next step for us is just sort of regroup to have conversations to see exactly what went wrong what went wrong and what are the impediments as to why would couldn’t move this project forward,” said Hawthorne Welcher, Director of the Housing and Development Department.

“The fact it’s market rate housing and the fact that Augusta University has put in dorms in the area after this project was brought to  the table four years ago I don’t feel it’s the right deal for the citizens,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.

Another reason commissioners didn’t move forward was the size of the city’s contribution to the project more than 80 percent of the total cost.

“What is that new development going to cost us in the long run who’s going to pay for it how is it going to be funded,” said Commissioner Grady Smith.

Some Commissioners also raised objects that the nonprofit Augusta Regional Collaboration was to get 300 thousand dollars for its role in putting the deal together.

“Is the project dead now after this vote?

“No comment on this right now but I will say out commission has spoken loud and clear,” said Welcher.

Another potential project may also have had an impact on Foundry Place still behind closed doors city leaders are considering funding options for an apartment complex development at  the depot property on Reynolds Street….the final vote was 6-4 against Foundry place so a switch of just two votes by two would put the project back on track

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