SPECIAL REPORT: An in-depth look at $200 million spent on Project Jackson

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — It’s a $200 million project that has been in the making in North Augusta for more than four years.

Project Jackson was finally approved by the city council last week.

The city of North Augusta, the developer, the hotel developer and the Augusta GreenJackets have been working on the Master Development Agreement behind closed doors for several years.

(Project Jackson – Master Development Agreement) — Download Link

The MDA is a 5 year deal between all parties that lists all components of Project Jackson.

“This is really a dream come true. We’ve been at this, as you know, for more than four years, prior to that, even in Augusta, I mean, this has probably been an eight year endeavor. This is a huge, momentous moment for the Augusta GreenJackets and I’m thrilled,” Augusta GreenJackets President Jeff Eiseman said.

The city is paying for the GreenJackets’ new $40 million baseball stadium.

The facility will also have shops, a bier garden and room for the clubhouse.

Those against Project Jackson have long argued that the government shouldn’t be paying for a private team’s facility.

“I think it’s going to be expensive to keep up and I wonder if they’re doing the right thing. I could be wrong. Only time will tell, but it will be too late once it’s built,” Father Daniel McAughey said.

However, city leaders and team officials say the stadium will also be used for concerts, trade shows and festivals.

“That may not happen all initially, in the first year, but that is what we’re building to, is to make that venue as active as humanly possible and bring people down to Project Jackson,” Eiseman said.

(STORY CONTINUED BELOW)

According to the MDA, the city will spend more than $72 million on Project Jackson.

That number includes the stadium, two parking decks, an $8 million conference center, infrastructure and improvements to the Riverfront Park.

That’s a lot of taxpayer money for a baseball team that could eventually leave, right? Well, Eiseman says the GreenJackets will be in North Augusta a very long time.

“This team has been here since the late 1980’s and it’s been operating continuously. We’ve honored every lease, every agreement and we’re clearly going to do the same thing in North Augusta. We’re in for a 20 year commitment,” Eiseman said.

As for the rest of Project Jackson, the developer, Greenstone Properties, plans to invest more than $152 million.

That number includes the 180-room Crowne Plaza Hotel, 280 apartments, 27 residential flats, 12 homes, a 72,000 square foot office building, dozens of shops and restaurants, the already completed Medac Office Building, 32 more apartments located above the stadium, a third parking deck, and a $30 million senior living facility.

So far though, the names of businesses attached to Project Jackson haven’t been released.

“Their (the developer’s) hands have been tied, as far as getting leases together because people want to make sure that the project is going to happen,” Mayor Lark Jones said.

The mayor expects the names of the businesses to be released in the coming months.

Even though construction on infrastructure has started, a groundbreaking date on the stadium hasn’t been set yet.

City leaders still hope to have the baseball stadium finished by Opening Day 2018.

The rest of Project Jackson, including the developer’s obligations, has to be completed by the end of 2018.

Here is the timeline for Project Jackson:

Stadium – April 1, 2018.
Hotel – December 31, 2018.
Conference Center – December 31, 2018.
Riverfront Park – April 30, 2018
Apartments – December 31, 2018.
Flats – December 31, 2018.
Homes – December 31, 2018.
Office – December 31, 2018.
Retail – December 31, 2018.

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