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A $13.6 million Plan to Buy and Overhaul the Historic
 Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia Includes Loan
 Request from Georgia's Tobacco Settlement Money

By James Gallagher, The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Mar. 18, 2005 - County development officials on Thursday ratified a loan application from an Atlanta company looking to buy and renovate The Partridge Inn.

Walton Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Songy Partners Limited, is trying to borrow $275,000 from the OneGeorgia fund, which allocates tobacco settlement money for economic development purposes. The loan is a small part of a $13.6 million plan to buy and overhaul the hotel, said Walton Holdings spokesman Rick Patton.

The sale is scheduled to close in May or June.

The renovations, which include gutting all guest rooms, replacing furniture and refinishing the exterior, are expected to net about 53 new jobs, justifying use of the OneGeorgia funds.

"The OneGeorgia fund is tobacco settlement money that has been allocated for employment growth, and that's what we're doing," Mr. Patton said.

The Development Authority of Richmond County voted unanimously Thursday to approve the OneGeorgia funding request that will be submitted by the CSRA Unified Development Authority, which handles OneGeorgia funding requests in the 13-county area.

OneGeorgia officials in January changed how funds are dispersed. Richmond County is now listed as a "conditional county" that receives funds only if the project benefits the region.

"The Partridge Inn is a destination hotel for the region," said David Shellhorse, grant writer for the Unified Development Authority. "Its upkeep and improvement is a benefit for the region."

Richmond County officials on Thursday also approved a 3 percent raise for its two staff members, Authority Executive Director Walter Sprouse and Existing Industry Manager Laurie Davis.


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Copyright (c) 2005, The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.

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