Over-hyped, uninspired Depot Project is a floater.
There is a sense of bad faith between the developers seeking to develop the old city train depot on Reynolds and the city commissioners that makes this project feel hopeless. The collaboration that would be required between the two entities requires trust and a mutually beneficial relationship, one that has yet to show itself.
Bloc Global of Alabama is asking the city for the Depot property by the 5th Street Bridge, as well a total of around $14 million in investments. The proposed Myrtle Beach Days Inn looking structures that were presented are not only uninspired, they aren’t the actual plans.
This according to Margaret Woodard, the point person for the city, yelling to the commissioners from the card table in the den.
Let’s ignore all the ancillary noise surrounding the project-the missed deadlines, confusion between the DDA, the city and the developers, the parking issues, etc.
Also, for the moment, we won’t mention the fact that the developers compared their project to Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, one of the largest preservation projects in the nation’s history.
On paper, the Depot Project simply does not make sense for Augusta. Private developers can do whatever they want, but asking for over 30% of the total cost of their projects in taxpayer dollars is ludicrous.
The original $93 million plan, which the incentives from the city were based, was apparently a JK.
The size of the developers commitment was cut in half, but the city’s commitment stayed the same, although there is a pinky swear on the table to build the rest of the project based on customer demand (sort of like the Meybohm deal in ‘downtown Evans’), but that’s a fool’s deal.
Bottom line-this company, with limited ties to Augusta, has been working the city for years, angling to cut a deal that makes sense to them.
What our leaders need to do is focus their attention elsewhere, and if Bloc Global wants to build an apartment building on the river, have at it.
Downtown Augusta is no desert when it comes to entertainment and shopping options, and the entertainment district appears to be on quite a roll lately. Private money is following public, and the sights and sounds of construction have become commonplace up and down Broad Street.
If the city has $14 million for downtown improvements, parking for what we already have would be a great place to start.