Live, Work, Play Ball: North Augusta Primed for Business Growth
By Witt Wells
Todd Glover, city administrator of North Augusta, is marketing his city by giving it a new, unique identity: the perfect midway point between the Savannah River Site and Fort Gordon.
There are a lot contractors, he says, who are involved with both. Glover said there are already $4 million in cyber contracts based in North Augusta.
“If we become the geographical center – a base or hub of operations where they can have offices here and have staff at Savannah River Site or Fort Gordon, think about the advantage we have here from an economic development standpoint,” Glover said to a room full of business leaders at an Aug. 24 North Augusta Chamber of Commerce lunch event.
Glover said this is the time to capitalize on the region’s cybertechnology growth. In the last year, North Augusta has either become home to or approved for the future construction of a host of new establishments, both locally and nationally based; Your Pie, Diablo’s, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Holiday Inn, IHOP, Petsmart, Burke’s Outlet and Ross Dress for Less have all opened in North Augusta or have been approved for building.
Anne Claire Johnson, who works at the Savannah River Site and attended the presentation, particularly values the multiuse spaces being created in the area as it enters a new phase of robust development.
“It sort of meets all the needs of the whole family,” Johnson said.
There might not be anything that more effectively meets all those needs than Riverside Village, the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets. It’s one thing that will make North Augusta a unique destination.
“If you’re not here, you should be,” Glover told business leaders. “I firmly believe we’re going to be the place to be for the next 10 years.”
Glover said that although SRP Park – the recently named Greenjackets’ ballpark – is on track to be ready for the April 12 opener, not all of the Riverside Village Development will be complete. Still, progress is moving quickly, he said. Some retail will be open, and a good portion of development on Riverfront Park will be complete, even if it’s not open yet.
“There will be plenty of restaurants for you to go and enjoy,” Glover said. “You’ll begin to get a look and feel for what it’s going to be like.”
As plans for the village have evolved, some changes have been made. The front of the Riverside Village hotel will be more appropriately designed for an urban, pick-up and drop-off environment. The presence of outdoor and rooftop seating at restaurants has become more of an emphasis as well, including one on top of the hotel. Renderings of the hotel’s first floor also feature a fireplace, a bar and potential sliding glass garage doors by the bar to be opened during nice weather.
“The views down there over the river are going to be gorgeous,” Glover said.
Other elements of the village include a terraced amphitheater, two more parking decks and a “bike barn” for people to park their bikes.
“This is going to be a vibrant place where people will want to come and be a part of,” Glover said.
Getting Down to Business
Glover’s favorite part of the development at Riverside Village is the opportunity for thriving business that it provides, particularly for companies that want to develop a presence in prime North Augusta real estate.
One building facing the stadium will have a first floor dedicated to retail, with condominiums on the top three floors. Glover said there are eight spots for retail lining the “shell” of the stadium that includes 100,000 square feet of office space.
“If you’re thinking about future office space, this is the place where you want to be, this is a place where you want to build an attractive workforce that you need for the future,” he said.
As the cyber industry and Riverside Village continue to grow North Augusta culturally and in business, Glover believes that what the city will be able to offer over the next few years is second-to-none. More is in store for North Augusta. Riverview Park Activities Center is adding two more courts to its gym, making it an even better home for the annual Nike Peach Jam. A new Public Safety Headquarters is in the works as well.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” Glover said. “This is an exciting time to be in North Augusta.”