View Gallery Westobou River Crossing & Higher Education/Civic District
Westobou Crossing is the only Master Plan District that spans the Savannah River, includes specific projects in North Augusta and Augusta and takes advantage of on-going collaboration of both the public and private sectors. This will be a huge urban riverfront endeavor working together in a joint development along this span of the Savannah River to realize exciting recreation, retail and entertainment destinations.
The Higher Education/Civic District includes several city facilities including the Municipal Building and the Augusta Museum of History. With open land and buildings that could easily be retrofitted to educational facilities, this area could easily become a cornerstone for additional higher education capacity downtown. Being strategically located along the Gordon Highway, there is excellent access to the high technology centers of the Savannah River Site, Fort Gordon, the Phinizy Center for Water Sciences Swamp & Nature Park, and Augusta University.
Already, the old Academy of Richmond County on Telfair Street has been turned into The Clubhou.se, a space for entrepreneurs, programmers, software designers and engineers who need a tech incubator. Even the $22 million Miller Theater renovation/rehabilitation project is including a 35,000 square foot space on Broad Street in the old Cullum's Building to house a music institute with classrooms.
In Augusta, the Pension Property Fund site is available for a large mixed-use development. Along with this property comes an historic railroad warehouse, located along Reynolds Street, that could be preserved, restored and reused.
To jump start this project, the City of North Augusta acquired acreage between the 5th Street Bridge and U.S. Route #1 and developed a new intersection for ease in traffic flow. The ribbon-cutting for this new interchange occurred on 11/16/2009.
The James Brown Arena is an important public facility. This is an aging structure, and plans are currently ongoing that will decide whether to potentially reconstruct or relocate this facility.
While investigating ownership and possible buildings for the higher education district, there were discussion regarding possible uses for the Old Medical College and the Academy of Richmond County with the Trustees of Richmond County. The Trustees are required to use these buildings for educational activities, and are prepared to work with prospective entities to make this happen. The Committee took a trip to Greenville, South Carolina in 2010 for the purpose of assessing the higher education initiative which produced University Center and the applicability of this model to the Augusta Higher Education District. Other academic models also being investigated include the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) model and the Columbus State University model.