- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Augusta leaders are hoping that persuading people to live in the downtown area helps to revitalize the center of one of Georgia’s largest cities.

More than five dozen business and community leaders considered the idea at a recent “Downtown Summit” aimed at rejuvenate the city’s core.

Augusta Tomorrow board member Doug Cates said widespread urban revitalization has been slow to occur because no one individual or entity is willing to take the risk needed to bring “transformational change.”

Participants at the summit focused a lot of discussion on expanding Augusta Common - north to the riverfront and south to Ellis Street.

Participants also discussed efforts to get more people living in the “Broad Street corridor” by converting the vacant Marion Building and under-utilized Lamar Building into apartments, The Augusta Chronicle reported (bit.ly/2276lZB).



Downtown Augusta has 220 traditional apartment units in the Broad Street corridor with a 98 percent occupancy rate, according to the Downtown Development Authority.

Projections show the city could easily support 1,000 more units, which in turn would encourage more retail, restaurants and supermarkets in the urban core, Cates said.

“If we’re really going to have sustainable growth, and if our tax base is going to grow to give our city more money to do the things that our commissioners and mayor would like to do, then it’s going to come from people living and working downtown,” he said.

Other ideas discussed included developing a light-rail system that would loop around downtown and the medical district and adopting more “business friendly” city ordinances for the central business district, the Augusta newspaper reported.

Another suggestion was building pedestrian links to North Augusta via an aerial gondola at the proposed baseball stadium and a foot bridge near Fifth Street.

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