Planning, Promoting, and implementing
the tomorrow of downtown Augusta, Georgia

View Gallery Central Downtown Core

Augusta's downtown core is the defining heart of the region's urban area and includes the city blocks bounded by 15th and 5th Streets, the riverfront and the Third Level of the Augusta Canal and North Augusta. This area includes the original shopping core for the entire region and, while constantly evolving with the expansion of the suburbs, it remains the center for many new restaurants, bars, specialty shopping and live entertainment including two new hotels being built in 2017.  Downtown Augusta is also becoming a cyber hub. A Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center broke ground on 6/19/2017 and a ribbon cutting is expected in the summer of 2018 at the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame property. Many cyber companies are relocating to downtown Augusta to be close to this new center that will boast a "cyber range."

The urban core also boasts two downtown parks - The Augusta Common and Springfield Village Park. The Augusta Common hosts activities and festivals almost every weekend throughout the year. Springfield Village Park, with its two iconic sculptures, is being finalized and will showcase the historical Springfield Village and Springfield Baptist Church.

The downtown core remains a vital office district and a major center of employment for the region. Residential apartment/loft living is usually at 98% capacity, and new apartments/lofts in historic buildings are continually being built out.

The central downtown core is constantly evolving, and the projects delineated in the Master Plan are just a few of the current core activities.

The Big Idea: With Fort Gordon becoming the Army's Cyber Command, Augusta is seeing a surge of cyber activity
Details: In December 2013, the Pentagon announced that Army Cyber Command would move to Fort Gordon and become a Cyber Center of Excellence. Not only is Fort Gordon expanding to house army personnel moving from the northeast to Augusta, the Augusta region, known as the Fort Gordon Cyber District, is moving forward to embrace the changes Army Cyber is bringing. Augusta University and the Army Cyber Center of Excellence have forged new partnerships.

Companies such as UNISYS are locating. Augusta University has been recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Sibley Mill is being renovated to house Augusta-based IT firms and a data center, and the Governor promised Augusta a new cyber innovation and training center. That Center broke ground in June 2017 at the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame property on the Savannah River.
Progress: UNISYS has already expanded once to accommodate 700 employees on the Augusta Riverwalk.

At the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center groundbreaking, it was announced that, due to the interest in the facility from the private sector, that the building would be expanded from $50 million to $60 million.

The owners of Sibley Mill are renovating the Mill to become a high-tech mixed-use magnet for the local cyber industry and a 10-megawatt data center.
The Big Idea: Maintain Broad Street as Augusta's Main Street
Details: Broad Street is where much downtown activity occurs from restaurants to shops to businesses. In October 2016, a new Hyatt House hotel was announced in the 1200 block of Broad Street.

Broad Street was originally 300-feet wide! When General Oglethorpe established Augusta in 1736, he planned Augusta with 40 one-acre lots laid out with Broad Street and Fifth Street designed as the main streets. In the 1790s, the street width was reduced from 300 to 166 feet. Since the nineteenth century to this day, Broad Street has continued to be one of Augusta's most prominent streets.
The Big Idea: The Augusta Common was first introduced in the 1995 Master Plan. It officially opened in 2002 and continues to be a much welcomed green space in the urban core.
Details: Formerly a row of dilapidated buildings, the Augusta Common has emerged as the center of the urban core with planned activities almost every weekend. This green space is highlighted by a life size sculpture of General James Oglethorpe, donated by Augusta Tomorrow, Inc. The sculpture showcases General Oglethorpe in civilian attire in his mid-30s, the age at which he founded Augusta, Georgia in 1736.
Progress: The Augusta Common has been envisioned as a park spanning from the Augusta levee to overlooking Greene Street. In 2017, earnest work started on how to make the expansion happen in a way that will spur economic development.
The Big Idea: Develop a convention center to augment Augusta's conference center.
Time: 2 1/2 years to build.
Details: The Augusta Convention Center (also known as the Trade, Exhibit and Event (TEE) center) broke ground on June 16, 2010 and officially opened on January 1, 2013. This Center is bringing in millions of dollars to Augusta in direct visitor spending that would not have happened without the addition of this flat-floor column-free space.

The Convention Center is an expansion to the city-owned conference center within Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites on Augusta's Riverwalk that overlooks the Savannah River. The main floor is at street level on Reynolds Street and the second level lines up with the conference level of the Marriott, allowing guests to walk from the conference center down a hallway to the convention center.

Augusta voters approved funding for this Center.

In December 2010, the Augusta Commission approved adding two additional levels to the Convention Center Parking Deck increasing the number of available spaces from 450 to 650. The Parking Deck opened on 9/23/2011.
Progress: The Convention Center opened on 2/25/2013.
RIVERWALK (Award Winning)
The Big Idea: Breach the levee to allow access to the Savannah River
Time: Introduced in the 1982 Master Plan. Groundbreaking Phase I 2/7/1986. Riverwalk has continually been developed since that time.
Details: The idea of a Riverwalk was first introduced to Augusta in the 1982 Master Plan as a public improvement in the form of a promenade/overlook, amphitheater and marina. It took a U.S. Congressional approval to allow breaches in the levee and much work to have the train tracks relocated from beside the levee. With the 2/7/1986 groundbreaking, the Riverwalk was well underway. Other phases included the marina, amphitheater, plaza and Fort Discovery - now home to UNISYS. The Riverwalk continues to be developed with a new park and stage unveiled in 2011. Starting in 2016, there are plans to extend the Riverwalk to the 13th Street Bridge.
Progress: Although the bones of the Riverwalk were completed in the 1990s, the Riverwalk continues to be updated and enhanced. To read more about the fascinating history of the Riverwalk, go to the Resources Page on this website and read the History Update 2016.
The Big Idea: Increase economic activity downtown
Details: The Augusta Market started as the The Saturday Farmers Market on Broad and morphed into the Market at the River and finally The Augusta Market. The market started in 2003 as a project under the auspices of Main Street Augusta with help from the City of Augusta and downtown organizations including Augusta Tomorrow.

The Market has grown since 2003 and moved to various locations before finding its new home at 8th and Reynolds Streets next to he historic Cotton Exchange and on the Savannah River.

The Market's success is seen as the vendors grow and the duration of the Market increases. The season durations have grown from two months in 2003 to almost 10 full months in 2014.
Progress: The Market is a tremendous success and continues to grow every year. In 2014, the market was extended from March through the beginning of December and has continued with the schedule every year since.

The Market was also envisioned as a business incubator. Entrepreneurial vendors, after starting and developing their fledgling businesses at the Market, have opened individual businesses and restaurants in the urban area,
The Big Idea: Revitalize the entire 900 city block in Downtown Augusta from 10th Street to McCartan Street
Cost: $10 million (in 1986 dollars)
Time: 3 years to complete.
Details: On 3/18/1983, The first step toward implementation of the 1982 long-range downtown Master Plan was announced by Bankers First Federal Savings and Loan with the $1 million renovation of 791 and 793 Broad Street, part of the overall plan for the renovation of the entire block that included the YMCA building. Augusta Tomorrow board members were the prominent promoters, investors and developers of this project initially called the Bankers First Project. The project was later named Lafayette Center.

On 11/9/1984, A ceremony for the groundbreaking for Lafayette Center was held. At the groundbreaking, federal HUD funding for this project was presented to the Mayor. This block was considered to be the most deteriorated block of Broad Street when the project was started, and was deemed an important first priority project in the City's first true master plan developed by the American City Corporation.

On 1/21/1986, Augusta Tomorrow, Inc. held the dedication of the Lafayette Center. Bankers First anchored one end of the block at 10th and Broad Streets and the YMCA building (42,000 sq. ft. for corporate offices and 20,000 sq. ft. for a health club) anchored the other end of the block at McCartan and Broad Streets. In all, 5 historic buildings were totally remodeled including the oldest structure remaining on Broad Street.

When Lafayette visited Augusta in 1825, the city united in an incredible spirit of celebration. The 1986 dedication recalled that memorable event and Augusta's historic spirit of unity and civic pride.

Lafayette Center was the largest restoration project in the State of Georgia up to that point. The result was a $10 million historic rehabilitation project of 12 historic downtown buildings undertaken by Bankers First, a member of Augusta Tomorrow.

Due to the huge investment that they had made to renovate the Lafayette Center block in downtown Augusta, Bankers First was the recipient of a Best Overall Project award from The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation for its work on the Lafayette Center. As CEO of Bankers First, Osteen accepted the award. This marked the first large project of many in Augusta Tomorrow's history.

Progress: Project Completed.
The Big Idea: Create a residential neighborhood on Greene and Telfair Streets around a new Third Level Canal Park.
Cost: $140 million private funding, $8 million public funding (in 2009 dollars).
Time: 5 to 20 years
Details: Create a new park along the third level of the Augusta Canal opposite John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. At the same time, create a new in-town neighborhood around this park of private mixed-use development single-family and multi-family homes abutting the park. Eventually, add a neighborhood retail center.

Progress: Future Development
The Big Idea: Revitalize three blocks of Broad Street between 10th and 13th Street into a unique urban village.
Cost: $150 million private funding, $50 million public funding (in 2009 dollars).
Time: 5 to 20 years
Details: This part of Broad Street is one of the most historically intact sets of downtown blocks. 13th Street is a major north-south connector to the medical district and to North Augusta. Develop substantial, new, up-scale residential mixed-use mid-rise to high-rise development on non-contributing properties to the urban fabric of the area.

Redevelop the center median of Broad Street to accommodate restaurants and retail and serve as a steppingstone from one side of Broad Street to the other.

Convert Ellis Street and the rear area of private buildings into coordinated surface parking area. Develop mid-block connections where possible to Greene Street.

Along Reynolds and Jones Streets, consider building a new grocery store.
Progress: Future Development
The Big Idea: Originally, to redevelop vacant riverfront land into an arts and entertainment center. More recent thinking would locate one component, the performing arts center, along Reynolds Street.
Cost: $80 million private funding, $30 million public funding (in 2009 dollars).
Time: 10 to 15 years
Details: The original grand idea was for development of an arts and entertainment center in the urban core. Components of this center would include a 2,000-seat symphony hall, a 40,000 square foot new Morris Museum of Art, creation of a new riverfront boat basin/amphitheater and develop an art/fountain plaza on Reynolds Street opposite the Augusta Common.

More recently, this idea has been divided into components with discussions surrounding a symphony hall performing arts center separate from the other development as funding and property become available.
Progress: The Augusta Tomorrow board has had many discussions with performing arts center architects, developers and programmers as a first step in understanding the intricacies of moving forward with this development. The Board has made multiple trips to other southeastern cities that operate successful performing arts centers to discuss their performing arts center development and ongoing programming.

Discussions about the need for a state-of-the-art performing arts center was at the heart of many community meetings prior to the development of this Urban Area Master Plan. Residents voiced over and over again that Augusta needed a world-class performing arts center while maintaining the current arts district and unique venues.

Development of a performing arts center will require city and state resources in addition to private funding.