Situation Reflects Challenges Facing Developers Retrofitting Augusta’s Vacant Properties
Owners of the building that runs alongside the Augusta Common were moving forward with a new nano brewery. Plans came to a halt when project engineers discovered the structure was unsafe.
Derek May, president of Azalea Investments LLC, which purchased the property from the estate of Julian Osbon, said the news was unexpected. “We were planning on going in there and renovating it and putting in a microbrewery,” May stated.
“Unfortunately, we had engineers go in and was in much worse shape than we realized.”
The discovery was made just before Arts in the Heart of Augusta and it’s 80,000 guests descended upon Downtown Augusta. “Our first concern is safety, so we went to the city and alerted them we had concerns. They came in and agreed with us and condemned the building.”
A fence was installed to keep people away from the property.
May said he is unsure what will happen with the former warehouse. “At this point we don’t know. We have engineers studying the building to tell us what the options are.”
“There’s a tendency to say tearing it down would be the right thing, but without knowing what it would take to restore the building, we just don’t know yet,” May relayed.
The company also owns the former jail property adjacent to the building.
“If it’s some astronomical number it might be the right thing to do, tear it down and start over again. If we did that we would go before the historic preservation and talk about it.”
May says the company wants to be good stewards of the location and do what is best for the community.
With the city blocking one lane of Reynolds Street near the building, there is urgency to come up with a path forward.
‘It’s a front burner project for us to figure out right now. We have to have the engineers to tell us what we need to do,” May said.