The Augusta Planning Commission voted in its monthly meeting Monday afternoon to approve a rezoning request to accommodate the proposed Regency Mall redevelopment project.
Cranston Engineering applied in May to rezone four tracts of land comprising what was once the site of Regency Mall, totaling about 75 acres along 1700 Gordon Hwy. and 2810 Regency Blvd., from B-2 general business to planned unit development.
The mixed-use development proposed by owners Cardinal Management Group, first publicly announced by Augusta Economic Development chairman and former mayoral candidate Steven Kendrick on May 30, would entail renovating the “existing footprint of the mall” by five four-story multi-family apartment buildings, and three 25-foot commercial structures.
Alongside the amenities, among which are an outdoor pool area, tennis court and open space, proposed commercial uses include restaurants, offices, a performing arts center and a charter school, as well as an internal road system of private streets.
“The reason for going to the PUD from B-2 would be to allow for the multi-use on the property without subdividing the individual tracts for the for the residential and commercial type uses,” said James Dean, Augusta Development Design Group Manager for Cranston Engineering, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the engineering firm. “But just to keep it all under one tract.”
The planning department recommended approving the rezoning with conditions, one of which was the caveat that the approval would be pending a direct regional impact study to evaluate the effect the proposed development would have on the region.
Director of the Planning Department Carla Delaney noted that the impact study report is still outstanding. While the Georgia Department of Transportation sent its approval Monday morning, Delaney said, the Planning and Development department is still waiting for comments from surrounding counties, and that if any new conditions emerged from that review the Planning Department would alert Cranston.
City attorney Samuel Meller noted to the commissioners that while the Planning Commission, being a recommending body, can make its recommendation without the impact report, the Augusta Commission cannot make a final decision until the impact report review is completed.
While no one spoke in opposition to the rezoning request, Ulysses Mays asked if the proposed apartments at the site were for senior citizens or were low-income housing. Commissioner Debra Spencer asked Dean whether townhomes or condominiums were ever considered for the development to help stabilize the community.
“These will be market-rate apartments, in terms of price range,” said Dean. “But I don’t think we’ve given consideration to the different types of uses. It’s been apartments from the very beginning.”
The Planning Commission ultimately voted to approve the rezoning request unanimously.