Mon, May 20, 2024

All systems go for JBA staff moving day

Plans have been approved to lease space for administrative staff working at the James Brown Arena. It was one of the items approved by members of the Augusta Richmond County Coliseum Authority during their April 23 meeting.

The authority will rent 3,300 square feet on the 14th floor of the Augusta University building on Broad Street at Seventh Street. The space will be used by the employees of the Oak View Group (OVG360), the management company that oversees the operations of the JBA and Bell Auditorium.

“This is intended to commence May 1st and run through April 30 of 2027,” explained Ed Enoch, legal counsel for the authority. “The only thing that I would say that’s a little unusual about this lease is that we’ve negotiated to pay the full fee upfront. It’s $249,663.41 for the rent and the parking fees for that building for the full three years. I went back and made sure that we were protected if something happened, and we had to move out. We get money back.”

Enoch said, in return for paying the full amount upfront, the authority was given a reduction on the rent and promised no increases over the three years of the lease.

Brad Usry, chairman of the authority’s New JBA subcommittee, estimated that will save about $20,000 off the original estimate for renting the space.

“We’re just trying to save money right from the start where we can, because we know we needed to finish the project on time and on budget,” he said, adding the space will be used for more than just the administrative offices.

“It will also be a sales showroom, to show off the boxes and the furniture that will be in the boxes. So, potential people that want to buy a box, or buy a loge box or premium seats, they’ll be able to see what it looks like,” he said.

The authority also changed the plan to bring construction trailers to the site to support the construction of the new JBA. General Manager, Chris Martin explained they discovered space in the Bell Auditorium, currently not in use.

“That could potentially be renovated, updated with nice fresh paint, new carpet, HVAC system upgraded, those types of things,” he outlined. “We went through there, itemized those expenses, and got a budget of actually under what I thought it would be for a trailer system. Originally, we’re just shy of $100,000, but this budget would actually be right around $70,000. So, we’re going to save $30,000.”

Usry told ABD the cost savings are just one benefit of the new plan.

“Once we looked at it, it was a $30,000 savings to not have trailers, but also improve a space in the Bell. This is going to be permanent, we’ll be able to use it forever, for all events. So, great for the project and good for the building. We now have more space we didn’t have to use before,” said Usry.

Authority members also approved two contracts totaling just under $44,000 with NOVA Engineering and Environmental. One is for inspecting the JBA, built in the 1970’s, for the presence of asbestos, lead, and hazardous building materials. The second is for subsurface examination of the site once the existing arena is torn down.

“So, this would be core samples to make sure that the site is going to be well able to withstand the load of the building, which is probably important for us at this point,” said Enoch, prompting a chuckle from people attending the meeting.

Preparations for construction of the new arena are ratcheting up as the more than $17 million renovation and upgrades to the Bell are nearing completion.

“We’re coming down the homestretch,” Project Manager, H.B. Brantley told authority members. “The cleaning crew is now active in the building, most of the major things have been installed with the cleaning process now. I think the next couple of weeks, you’ll see the outside being wrapped up, the landscaping is going in, the pavements going to happen next week.”

The Bell had been closed for the project since June 2023. The target is to have the project completed prior to the authority’s next meeting on May 28.

The first show, featuring Ben Folds, is scheduled for May 31. Tickets are on sale now.

Updates on the overall project, including Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for contractors who want to be part of the construction team, are at https://newaugustaarena.com/

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