2019 Achievement Award winner - City of North Augusta
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The City of North Augusta received the Joseph P. Riley Award for its Riverside Village project. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s Annual Meeting on July 20. The city won in the economic development category. Twenty-nine cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives. 

North Augusta’s location across the Savannah River from the much larger population center of Augusta, Ga., has historically caused difficulties in attracting and recruiting restaurants and retail to its side of the state line. In response to that challenge, the city built Riverside Village, a $230-million project developed in partnership with Greenstone Properties. So far, the complex includes SRP Park, the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets stadium, as well as a hotel, apartments and two parking decks. 

Today’s city leaders feel that the project fulfills some of the dreams of James U. Jackson, who in the late 19th century drove the development of North Augusta, including the Hampton Terrace Hotel that served as an enormous luxury resort until it burned in 1916.

City leaders said the project mentality was not “build it and they will come,” but rather “we will build if you will build.” The city worked with Aiken County and the Aiken County School District to create a tax increment financing district. Between the three entities, 23 public hearings were eventually held on the project. The city brought in financial advisors to create funding scenarios to see which levels of development would generate enough revenue to pay for the project, and more than 93 scenarios were modelled. The city also created a municipal improvement district, in which the developer would be obligated to make payments to the city equal to projected property taxes if the construction did not take place.

More development is planned in the park through 2020, and the city hopes that development spurred by the effort will spread into downtown North Augusta, situated next to the complex.  

“Officials with the City of North Augusta have started a commercial renaissance in the city with Riverside Village,” said Eric Budds, interim executive director for the Municipal Association.

These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association’s website (keyword: Achievement Awards).  

The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.