Sunday, April 29, 2007

Moving Forward

Downtown Augusta Alliance announced formation and charter board of directors in a meeting of downtown stakeholders on Thursday, April 26, 2007. Downtown Augusta Alliance d(a)² voted in the charter Board of Directors for 2007. d(a)² joins together downtown merchants, business and property owners and residents to create a common voice for the progress and promotion of downtown Augusta.

Davenport Bruker (Sanford Bruker & Banks) captured the feeling of those present when he stated: "We sorely need a grass roots organization that is an advocate for downtown; and I believe we have been presented with a great opportunity to help Augusta live up to its potential."

The eleven members of the 2007 Board of Directors are: Chris Allewelt, New Moon Café; Davenport Bruker, Sanford, Bruker & Banks Insurance; Emily Carder, Carder Consulting; Jeremy Carr, The Well; Matt Flynn, Blue Sky / Nacho Mamas / Stillwater; Trey Kennedy, Georgia Bank and Trust; Travis Petrea , Metro A Coffee House; Lara Plocha, Blue Magnolia; Robert Steudle, Elduets Treasures of the World; Kristin Varn, Art on Broad; and Jai West, White Elephant.

A dedicated group of downtown merchants and business owners have worked diligently for months to create the Alliance, involve the downtown district and formalize into a not-for-profit corporation, focusing on the simple mantra "making downtown a wonderful place to live, work and play."

"As someone who works and lives in Downtown Augusta, it's very exciting to see those with a vested interest in the welfare of the area coming together to help shape, develop and promote Downtown," said Emily Carder. Travis Petrea of the Metro Coffee House agreed, "It’s exciting to witness. A progressive thinking group of people is long over due in downtown Augusta." d(a)² is the new voice of the downtown business and residential community, committed to making downtown the heart of the Augusta community.

Furthering the progress and vibrancy of downtown Augusta, the Alliance will build effective partnerships among stakeholders, residents, and current downtown organizations. d(a)² will bring fresh ideas to revitalize the economic vitality of downtown, helping to create a vibrant downtown. d(a)² will work toward cleaning up the downtown area, making it pedestrian friendly, improve signage, rehabilitate deteriorating buildings and make downtown the heart of Augusta. Jeremy Carr, pastor of The Well, explained his desire to be involved in the Alliance: "Far too many times there is a disconnect between the faith community and the downtown scene. The WELL hopes to bridge that gap by being involved with the development of the city's events. Being on the board provides a great context to build relationships with other leaders in the community and work in conjunction with one another for the benefit of downtown."

The mission of d(a)² is to promote the health, vitality and progress of Downtown Augusta by making downtown a wonderful place to live, work and play while creating a vibrant multi-use neighborhood where businesses and the residential community can flourish through cooperative efforts of commercial, professional and residential interests. The boundaries for the d(a)² are downtown Augusta from 5th Street to 15th Street and from the north side of Reynolds Street to the south side of Greene Street.

Want to know how you can be a part of this exciting new organization? Talk to one of the 36 Charter Members or call one of the Charter Board members to find out how you can get involved!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Going Up?

Loft Living

The open living areas and wall-less space of a loft is often refered to as the "raw" area. This raw area takes on many meanings to different loft dwellers but overall it represents spatial freedom. This space is the epitome of loft living and the essence of the lifestyle. The traditional idea of raw area brings up images of abandoned New York City warehouses where starving artists found refuge and not the refined loft of today's modern age.

For many who seek this lifestyle the appeal is the ability to design, customize, and personalize their own space. The open layout and design of a loft allows the loft dweller to be creative and define every nook and cranny. Loft seekers who dream big desire lofts that have the right amount of raw area to contain all that they envision.
Raw space allows dwellers the ability to define their world from professional to personal and beyond.

Loft living is an expression of personal taste. Loft living is about freedom, a quality of life, and contemporary urban living. Loft living can be luxurious, minimalist, eclectic or artistic.

Get your chance to see first hand some of the great lofts in Downtown Augusta. See what all of the talk is about loft living and the modern lifestyle this First Friday, May 4, 2007.

For more information about Historic Augusta's Downtown Loft Tour, check out
or call 706-724-0436.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Clap If You Believe

The Davidson Fine Arts production of Peter Pan will have people clapping long and loud this weekend, and not just to save Tinkerbell. Children and adults alike will be caught up in the excitement and fantasy of this classic story brought to life about a boy who doesn't want to grow up. After all, most people are still kids at heart.

Davidson Fine Arts presents three performances of Peter Pan this weekend:
Friday, April 20, 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 21, 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.
Admission: Davidson Fine Arts Students $10; Senior Citizens/ Children/ Students $11; Adults $12
For more information visit

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Creative Ideas

Sometimes the best marketing ideas are relatively simple, and they produce benefits that far outweigh their production cost. First Friday is obviously one of them. After reading all of the creative and thoughtful responses to the "First Friday" post I thought that this might be a good opportunity for all of us to throw out a few of the ideas that have been rattling around in the backs of our head to see if any of them might lead to something worthwhile. The pub crawl (Beer and Loathing is great Coco and D) is a prime example. I have two ideas that I would like to throw out for comments or criticism. The first is January promotion that would run for 3 or 4 weeks. The theme is diner and a movie. The imperial would run a series of old movies on Tuesday nights (think Bogart and Hepburn) and patrons could attend for free if they got a coupon from one of the downtown restaurants or other participating businesses. The businesses could set their criteria fo receiving the coupon, and the next morning the Imperial could redeem the coupons for cash. My other idea is for a major free concert downtown funded in part by some of the larger downtown businesses. Beamies and The Boll Weevil could provide a thousand dollars each, for example, which could be meaningful if a few (20 to 25) other companies would participate at the same level. This would then be the seed money to bring in major sponsors and produce a big time show.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

First Friday, Art Event or Retail Event

If April's First Friday was and example of what to expect in the future then the event may well be doomed. First Friday has certainly had difficulties in the last couple of years, and these difficulties can be traced directly back to the parties that were in charge of coordinating the event. The Arts Council now is the co-ordinating agency, but I think that this is a mistake because, in this case, the interest of art and business are not parallel. For example January's first Friday was a warm day with the promise of threatening weather. Late in the afternoon there was an anouncement from the Arts Council that First Friday was cancelled. A retail prespective would have been to announce that the street events were cancelled, but the restaurants and galleries were still open. As it turned out it never rained and a good opportunity was wasted. Downtown retailers are independent business owners who have made tremendous sacrafices to start their businesses. We have to pay the rent and make payroll through the good months and bad months. Street artist often are in business for the price of a saxaphone and are under no obligation to press on when it becomes inconvenient.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Catch "Greater Tuna" at Le Chat Noir

For those who missed the first weekend of Le Chat Noir's current production, "Greater Tuna," there are two more weekends to catch this hysterical satire about life in Tuna, Texas' third-smallest town. This is a great choice for those who want to have a fun, and funny, night out.

"Greater Tuna" is showing April 12-14 and 19-21 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Reserve your tickets early since seating is limited to about 80 people. For more information about "Greater Tuna" and Le Chat Noir, visit or call 706.722.3322.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Parking Management is Key

Downtown Augusta is choking on its own success. In 1996 when the Soul Bar and Nachos were just getting started you could stand in the middle of 10th and Broad on Saturday noon and not see more than a handful of cars. Today most of the parking is gone by early morning. Unfortunately many of the spaces are occupied by employees and residents which discourages shoppers and diners. From time to time the city funds a study which usually results in a pie in the sky approach to downtown's parking problems, but before we demolish half of the town to build parking garages why don't we first manage what we already have. For example on 9th street near the amphitheater parking is restricted around the fountain, presumably for aesthetic reasons. Yet Riverwalk is a public park funded by the very people to whom access is being denied. The parking garage at the convention center behind the Marriot is also also a public facility which loses money, so you would think that the city would have at least one sign directing visitors and locals to use it, right? Well it's not that obvious to whomever is in charge of such things. So here are my 7 simple low cost steps to better parking: (1) Use Common sense. (2) Provide safe off street parking for residents and employees. (3) Re institute metered parking in the Broad Street parking bays. (4) Enforce 2 hours parking restrictions (5) Give property owners tax abatements for providing public parking on vacant lots in high density areas. (6) Designate George Patty as Director of Downtown Parking and implement his recommendations. (7) Stop funding parking studies