Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Downtown Augusta Revitalization

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - Downtown Augusta is situated along a picturesque riverfront featuring paths, magnificent vistas and open spaces. It is bound by the Savannah River to the north, Walton Way to the south, 5th Street to the east and the medical district to the west. Its well-designed network of roadways and sidewalks makes downtown easily accessible.

Serving as the focal point for a metropolitan population of 500,000, downtown has undergone major public and private investment in revitalization and beautification initiatives.

The downtown area is home to a majority of Augusta’s tourism generators, including museums, performing arts centers and professional sports teams. Downtown also includes the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, one of only 27 designated heritage areas in the nation. A beautiful riverfront serves as a popular gathering place for daily lunches and conversation breaks, as well as a main stage for outdoor entertainment throughout the year.

The outlook for downtown is bright, as recent investment has generated a flurry of activity. New restaurants, additional retail and more people visiting has invigorated downtown. Today, downtown is Augusta’s center of community activity.

Resident Population: 2,661
Households: 1,540
Housing: 1,679 units (8.1% owner units, 82.1% rental units, 9.8% vacant)
Resident Labor Force: 799
Workforce Population: 17,479
Businesses: 895
Major employers: Medical College of Georgia (7,800), University Hospital (3,860), Augusta-Richmond County Government (2,600).
Retail Goods and Services Expenditures: $44,295,123
Major Planned Investment: $136,000,000
Transportation: 3 major arterials (AADT from 2,905 to 21,864; all roadways LOS C or better)
Colleges and Universities: Medical College of Georgia, Paine College, Cambridge College.
Medical Facilities: Medical College of Georgia, University Hospital.
Land Use: Mixed residential/commercial, with major institutional uses interspersed.
Tourism: 1.5 million visitors annually (city wide) generating $366 million in revenues.

Broad Street has anchored downtown Augusta and ensured its status as the metropolitan area’s financial hub. There are 895 businesses employing approximately 17,476 people located downtown. 

The service sector accounts for the largest share of businesses and jobs. Over 463 service businesses (51.7% of all downtown businesses) employ 9,187 people (52.6%). Downtown is well diversified with a significant number of businesses and employees in Finance, Insurance & Real Estate (5.5%), Retail Trade (7%) and Government (19.8%). Approximately 1,228 (7%) workers are employed in the manufacturing sector. Major downtown employers include: Medical College of Georgia (7,800), University Hospital (3,860), and the Augusta-Richmond County Government (2,600).

Unlike many downtowns engulfed by residential land uses, the number of businesses around downtown increases substantially. Within a 1-mile radius of downtown, the number of businesses grows by 33% to 1,190 while employment increases by approximately 4,000. Within a 3-mile radius, there are an additional 1,913 business and 22,108 workers. For residents living downtown, this means access and convenience of neighborhood shops and larger retail areas.

Downtown Spending Patterns
Downtown retail goods & services expenditures reflect the need for a wide variety of products. Approximately $45 million is spent annually on products ranging from apparel and computers to food and home furnishings. Expenditures within a 3-mile radius of downtown climb to nearly $725 million. The primary downtown expenditure is home services ($6,231 per person), which include rents or mortgages. Other major expenditures include financial services ($5,817), food ($5,188), and transportation ($4,593).

Parking Meters 
In the weeks ahead, additional public meetings will be scheduled to continue the productive discussions about how to make downtown Augusta a better place to live, work and play, including how to coordinate the needs of downtown customers, workers and residents for safe, convenient parking. The DDA will continue to identify a variety of alternatives to on-street parking throughout the downtown area and plans to produce a comprehensive catalog of locations and pricing for these options along with a map.

DDA Executive Director Margaret Woodard said the amount of public interest the proposal has generated is producing a surge of interest in downtown improvement that merits further dialogue before the proposal is offered to the City/County Commission. 

Source: Downtown Development Authority (DDA)


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