Counties Seek Grant to Expand Broadband

District 6 Highlight

submitted by Paul DeCamp, AICP, District 6 Director

Thirteen counties in the Central Savannah River Area are jointly seeking a grant to increase broadband and wireless Internet access in their jurisdictions. The grant, funded under the federal stimulus law, is being sought from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The amount of the grant award will depend on the agency’s evaluation of the application. The CSRA Regional Commission and CSRA Unified Development Authority have provided technical and financial support on behalf of the application.

Trade, Exhibit and Event Center to be Built in Downtown Augusta – In December 2009 the Augusta Commission approved a financing plan for a Trade, Exhibit and Event Center (TEE), to be constructed on a site on Reynolds Street adjacent to the existing riverfront convention center. The $38 million facility will feature 40,000 square feet of exhibit space and be financed with a combination of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds, sales tax interest earnings and tax exempt bonds. A $10 million, 400-space parking deck will be built across Reynolds Street from the TEE Center. The TEE Center is to be let for bids this summer and should open in 2012.

Plans Being Finalized for New Hotel in Downtown Augusta –Legacy Hospitality LLC is moving forward with plans to construct a $25 million Hyatt Place Hotel in downtown Augusta. The eight-story, 139-room hotel will be built on a site adjacent to the Augusta Common and near the site of the planned Trade, Exhibit and Event Center. Project financing is being sought through a OneGeorgia grant and a Georgia Cities Foundation loan. The Downtown Development Authority of Augusta will help finance underground parking for the hotel. The hotel will employ 70 people and could open sometime in 2011.

Inner-City Redevelopment Receives Financing – The Augusta Commission has approved plans to issue $8 million in bonds to jump-start redevelopment activities in Laney-Walker and Bethlehem, two of Augusta’s historic inner-city neighborhoods. The bonds will be issued by an Urban Redevelopment Authority and the city’s Housing and Community Development Department will coordinate the redevelopment activities. The bond proceeds will finance property acquisition, housing rehabilitation and new construction, financial and technical assistance to homebuyers, commercial development and improvements to public facilities. Proceeds from a $1.00-a-night hotel occupancy fee will finance repayment of the bonds, as well as the cost of additional projects in the neighborhood. Over a 50-year period the hotel occupancy fee is expected to pump $ 37.5 million into projects in the neighborhoods and trigger an additional $100 million in investment, mostly from the private sector.