|By Jenna Martin, The Augusta Chronicle,
Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 14, 2013--The Augusta Chronicle
It was out with the old and in with the new Wednesday at the site of a future Holiday Inn Express & Suites that will replace a dilapidated hotel on Broad Street.
Despite cloudy, bleak weather, Augusta leaders spoke of a bright future spawned from the $8 million project led by local businessman and developer T.R. Reddy that will turn the former Regency Inn at 444 Broad St. into a new 118-room hotel.
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression," said Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver. "This will be the first impression that a lot of people have coming into Augusta."
Reddy purchased the site for $588,500 at a 2009 auction after the building sat vacant for years. Reddy initially planned to start renovations in 2010, but financing issues caused a delay.
In November, Augusta commissioners helped move the project along by creating a tax allocation district downtown to assist in redevelopment of the property.
"Augusta is growing," City Administrator Fred Russell said. "The opportunities are multiplying. People are re-investing in our community."
The building, first constructed in 1965, will undergo a complete overhaul, with only the original steel structure remaining.
Work is slated to start March 1 and could be finished by the end of 2013, said Mason McKnight, president of ACC Construction Co., which will build the hotel.
The project will employee about 100 workers and all local subcontractors will be used, he said.
Once complete, the six-story hotel will serve as a closeby lodging destination for those using Augusta's new convention center on Reynolds Street and improve the surrounding area, Reddy said.
"The developers' goal is to provide needed rooms for the Augusta Convention Center as well as providing a foundation for the redevelopment of the lower end of Broad Street," he said.
Reddy said he will likely hire between 20 and 25 employees.
The hotel will be designed as an energy-efficient facility that receives Leadership in Energy Environmental Design certification, Reddy said. The design also includes an outdoor swimming pool, gym and meeting space.
The development represents the first new downtown hotel in recent years. Financing woes caused a $25 million Hyatt Place hotel on Reynolds and Ninth streets to be delayed in 2010. A $100 million project that included a 150-room hotel at the old train depot on Reynolds Street never got out of the ground in 2008 due to a faltering economy.
On the other side of the river, plans continue for the Project Jackson development that will incorporate a 200-room riverfront hotel, conference center, retail and stadium complex in North Augusta. The $166-million project is proposed as a public-private partnership.
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