Development includes restaurant, retail storefronts and apartments
The intersection of Broad and 9th Street has had a lot of activity lately. Today is Laziza Mediterranean’s first official day in business, last week the Greater Augusta Arts Council held the official unveiling of Cole Phail’s James Brown mural, and across Broad Street demolition is in full effect at 902 Broad Street.
The former Rhodes Variety Shop, which was formerly a Rexall Drug Store, is being converted to Emil’s, a “not too early coffee, not too late for a bar, somewhere in between” cafe featuring “nice small plates, just a good place to hang out and have a cold beer, a glass of wine and some coffee,” according to Shawn Moseley.
Moseley and his wife Emilie, along with his mother in law, are all a part of “Electric Park”, the umbrella company that has taken on not only the Broad Street storefront, but the entire city block, which includes a number of storefronts down 9th Street and what will be seven apartments upstairs.
“Not counting the cafe we have eight storefronts. Two of them are being renovated right now. The rest of them will all get new ceilings and lighting as we do the apartments upstairs,” Moseley said.
That is a lot to bite off, Moseley acknowledged. “Everything is sort of happening all at once, which is a massive project for us. We are in the demo phase right now, we have six to eight weeks of just demo. It’s a city block, but it is really an assemblage of, people say four buildings, if you look really closely it is actually five buildings on one parcel.”
Building seven apartments and renovating three retail spaces, including our anchor, is not a quick process,” Moseley said. His property shares a wall with the former Bayou, which burned down in 2001 and was never rebuilt, leaving an open air gap in the block.
He and his wife will be living above Emil’s, which is named after his wife’s grandfather, who was from Belgium and an “old mess hall Sergeant in the US Army,” Moseley said. “He instilled in her her love of the kitchen and cooking.”
A component of Emil’s will be self pour technology for beer and wine, which most recently was utilized by the new Evans restaurant Stay. Social Tap and Table in the Meybohm building at the Plaza.
“It’s funny, as we have our deposit in the self pour technology, we find out that Rafi and Norm (Rafi Bassali and Norman Dunagan) are doing their thing across the street (875 Broad Street) with the exact same technology. Which is hilarious,” Moseley said.
While that may seem like unwanted competition, the self pour-pay by the ounce concept is becoming more and more prevalent across the country. Customers are able to sample many beers, and aren’t stuck paying for a beer they didn’t enjoy.
Craft and Vine introduced the idea to Augusta with their wine selection back in 2014 with a sophisticated wine preservation system that allows the restaurant to offer 40 wines by the glass.
It appears self pour will be more and more available locally in the coming years, which is good news for those who like to try a little of everything.
With such a large project at hand, Moseley is focused on getting the cafe and the owner’s apartment in what is called the 9th Street Flats, finished first.
The full project is expected to take a year or more to complete.