Project Jackson funding to go before City Council

Project Jackson's next high-profile appearance before a municipal body may be March 18, in the form of a public hearing at a North Augusta City Council meeting.

The immense riverfront development project was also to have undergone a discussion this week, with North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover appearing Tuesday at an Aiken County Board of Education meeting, to address the topic of tax-increment financing.

Glover described his role as "just answering any questions that they may have on the TIF district and the school board's participation."

Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young confirmed that he expects a county-level review as well. "We don't even know all the ins and outs of it yet. They haven't brought that to us yet," he said.

"The ball stadium is a question mark. I don't know whether it will be in the plan or not in the plan, when it comes to us."

The "ball stadium," being presented as a possible future home for the Augusta GreenJackets, may be the most prominent feature in a package proposed also to include a resort-quality hotel, a conference center and a 900-space parking garage, along with 75 town-home units and 40,000 square feet of office space.

Glover noted that the March 18 meeting will include first reading of a TIF amendment. Two more would be necessary for approval.

The proposed changes, he said, touch on lengthening the TIF district, as well as the fact that the original arrangement's wording did not mention "a sports and entertainment complex, or stadium."

If the changes are approved, the plans would have to go through the North Augusta Planning Commission, with three readings required for approval.

The third major step, Glover said, would be "to borrow the money to do the public part of Project Jackson."

The proposal includes some parts that would be privately financed, but others, such as the conference center, would be bankrolled via the municipal government.

Referring to the idea up for consideration March 18, Glover said, "We're amending the plan to make this a possibility, if we decide to go forward with it, but it's not approval of the plan."

Councilman Arthur Shealy, when asked about a possible timeline for the project, said, "Any commitment day or completion day would be completely speculative at this point."