SOGO Summit gathers leaders to discuss redeveloping Recency Mall

The SOGO Summit brought in experts in business and development to check out the property, and the city, and discuss development opportunities for the abandoned building.
The SOGO Summit brought in experts in business and development to check out the property, and the city, and discuss development opportunities for the abandoned building.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- Thursday, Mayor Hardie Davis brought leaders together to for what he calls the SOGO Summit. SOGO is short for south of Gordon Highway.

They took a bus tour to check out some recent development in the city and discuss the potential for redevelopment on Gordon Highway.

With the The Army’s Cyber Command coming to Fort Gordon and the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center coming to downtown, billions of dollars and a whole new work force are set to join the CSRA. But the connection between those two, Gordon Highway, leaves something to be desired.

City Leaders are hoping they can begin to clean up the area by redeveloping the one-million-sq. ft. space that was formerly Regency Mall along the corridor.

“It’s at the geographic center of our city,” Davis said. “You’ve got all of our thoroughfares that come through here, and so without question, if we’re able to do this, it would be a catalytic project that transforms the rest of what’s going on around Gordon Highway.”

The SOGO Summit brought in experts in business and development to check out the property, and the city, and discuss development opportunities for the abandoned building.

“It’s what we call a dead mall, so I see that as opportunity,” said Bill de St. Aubin of the Sizemore Group, an Atlanta-based architecture firm.

He specializes in revitalizing areas like Gordon Highway. He says there are three main things the space could turn into: a vibrant town center, a government or community use space, or a job center.

He says the town center would be ideal.

“It would mean we’re going to put high density shops there. We’re going to put residential there. We’re going to put corporate office there. We’re going to put green space there,” he said. “That would be the ideal.”

He says he thinks it could even be used for that as well as a government and office space because it’s so big, 77 acres in all.

But there’s one key person the project turns on: the building’s owner. He was on the bus for the SOGO summit and onboard with redevelopment talks.

City leaders say now is the perfect time. They say the goal is to walk out of the summit with a direction on how to redevelop the property.

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