Mon, June 24, 2024

Winding down the life of the James Brown Arena

Members of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum are taking steps to close the James Brown Arena and prepare for demolition. Members held what is expected to be their second to last monthly meeting at the arena just before the ribbon cutting to re-open the renovated and expanded Bell Auditorium.

Ed Enoch, the authority’s legal counsel, updated members on the hiring of a construction manager for the $250 million project that includes a concourse to connect the new JBA to the Bell.

“I got to fill out an RFP (Request For Proposal) for the construction manager,” he said. “We got one response off of that. That was PCL Construction Services in conjunction with the partnership with McKnight (Construction Company, contractor for the project). They will be paid a percentage of 3.25% of whatever the guaranteed maximum price (GMP). In addition to that, there are pre-construction services that they will be paid $200,000 for basically the work to get us to the GMP.”

The contract also includes an incentive of up to $250,000 for the company to hire 15% minority, 5% women-owned, and 5% small businesses. The goal is to hire Georgia-based companies, although minority and women-owned businesses in South Carolina would be considered.

Authority members approved the contract. Chairman Cedric Johnson told ABD the contract was not exactly what he hoped for.

“But we’ve had a month or better in negotiating to get them where we needed to be, where it’s win-win for everybody,” he said.

Authority members unanimously approved resolutions dealing with the mechanics of financing the project, including an intergovernmental agreement with Augusta-Richmond County, which will collect money generated by the half-cent sales tax. The second agreement creates an account at Security Federal Bank to accept the money. The account is set up to receive and disburse only sales tax money for the project.

With work completed on the Bell Auditorium, H.B. Brantley gave his final report as the owners’ representative for that phase of creating a new Augusta Entertainment Center. He also thanked the contractors on the project and Authority members for their commitment to the first phase of the development.

Brantley handed off to Mike Harvey of Nations Group, the owners’ representative for the construction of the new JBA and concourse connecting it to the Bell.

He said his group is working on the new contract for the Oak View Group (OVG), the management company for the entertainment complex in addition to preparing for the new arena project.

“We have a demolition permit in. It’s been in for about three weeks. I think it takes four weeks for it to get reviewed and approved,” he updated authority members. “Now that we have a contract with the contractor, we can all start looking to scheduling all this in an accurate way. The 70% drawings are out. And again, it’s great to have the contractor on board because they can put this out to the market now and actually test some of the estimating that they did.”

The existing JBA opened in late 1979. Designed by renowned architect, I.M. Pei, who also designed the penthouse on top of the Lamar Building, the former Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce Building on Broad Street, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it is a roughly 7,000-seat facility. The new arena will have 10,000 seating capacity along with luxury suites, loge boxes, and party suites. There will be up-to-date restaurant and bar offerings.

There are no more events scheduled in the arena. OVG staff are preparing to close the building and move their office space to the Augusta University building on Broad Street.

“We’re ready, we’re ready,” General Manager, Chris Martin told ABD. “We’ve only got a couple of weeks to really transition out. We are looking to move out in the next couple of weeks and transition to offsite office space.”

Johnson said they are ready for the move.

“We think we have a team in place with Nations Group and PCL, the contractor, and McKnight, a local contractor. We feel like we’re ready.”

One final meeting of the Authority will be held in the existing facility. That will be on June 25. Johnson anticipates they will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new arena after the meeting.

Updates are available at www.newaugustaarena.com

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