Those left out of meeting with mall owners react

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF) Coliseum Authority Chairman Cedric Johnson says a new James Brown Arena needs to be built downtown, and says that’s his message to the owners of Regency Mall.

“We need to try and find a way to revitalize that area, but it’s not the new arena, then new arena needs to be downtown,” says Johnson.

Johnson didn’t meet with the owners of the mall last week; they met with a handful of city leaders including the mayor and just two commissioners….

One of those left out was Commissioner Marion Williams who has talked about the city using condemnation against the mall property.

“Hopefully spark a conversation let the owners know we do have another tool, we can use and be fair with the city of Augusta who have been more than fair with him for the length of time we’ve allowed that building to sit there like that,” said Williams.

Commissioner Grady Smith also didn’t get a chance to meet with mall owners, he doesn’t like the mall as a site for the new arena nor would the proposal to build the it on land the city lease from the mall owners.

“This is our town he needs to go on back where he’s from, that’s the way I feel about it leaving it like that hey condemn it tear it down turn it into a soccer field I don’t care,” said Commissioner  Smith.

Cedric Johnson wants commissioners to support a new arena downtown, one argument has been if it’s built at the current location, the arena would need to shut down for two years tonight Johnson says that may not  be the case

“We think we’ve come up with a way  it does not have to close for two years so we can actually keep it open and operate and build a new arena downtown you can keep the arena open during construction keep the arena open,” said Johnson.

Commissioner Andrew Jefferson represents the district where Regency Mall is located he supports the mall for the arena and wasn’t invited by the mayor to meet with the owners he says tonight he was disappointed saying all city leaders should have been involved and he says he has called the mayor to express his disappointment.

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