Check off another important step in the process of bringing new economic growth to North Augusta. City officials agreed on Monday to start negotiating with the architectural firm that they hope will design the new GreenJackets baseball stadium. If the City and the firm can agree to terms, this will bring Project Jackson closer to fruition – paving the way for unprecedented development in North Augusta.
City Council selected Odell Associates, a Charlotte, N.C. based firm, that is the lead designer for BB&T Park in Charlotte – the new home of the Charlotte Knights, a Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
However, North Augusta is currently mired in a lawsuit involving the riverfront project, which certainly handcuffs officials’ efforts to positively impact the community. In the meantime, the City needs to make the most of its time. Letting the project fall by the wayside would ultimately be too detrimental.
If the City doesn’t determine the footprint of the stadium, then the rest of the project is essentially moot. As the anchor of Project Jackson, the stadium will determine where everything else in the proposed development is going to be.
Officials obviously cannot move too far forward because of its pending litigation. Council’s action on Monday night should be viewed as one of the initial, much needed steps in bringing baseball and new retail to North Augusta.
The City has wisely laid out a game plan for ensuring Project Jackson becomes a reality. First, North Augusta needed to approve the Tax Increment Financing District, or TIF, to actually generate the publicly-financed components of the project. Now it’s time for the City to negotiate a sensible, cost-effective contract with the firm to design the stadium, which will be owned by the City if constructed.
Additionally, the principal developer – Greenstone Properties – has to find additional pieces in place to complete the development. Each component of the overall vision for the project has to be fulfilled before the community can truly reap the benefits.
Residents must also remember the stadium isn’t merely for baseball. If built, it can be used for concerts, festivals and other community events throughout the year – not just GreenJackets’ games during the summer. A hotel, parking garage and conference center are also planned for the development, which should cater to both locals and visitors.
As the City takes the necessary steps to bring each amenity to the community, it shouldn’t lose sight of the need to continually garner community feedback and consider the impact of noise and traffic.
But if the necessary pieces come together, North Augusta can offer a final product to area residents that will ultimately reinvent the riverfront by creating positive economic growth.