April 6th signified a historic day in Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Augusta's history as we held the soft opening of our new Support Center & Headquarters at the Hub for Community Innovation Augusta with special guest Dr. Condoleezza Rice!
Also in attendance with Dr. Rice were Heidi Ueberroth and David Seaton, all members of the Board of Governors for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Jim Clark, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, also joined for this special occasion.
We are so grateful for this facility that will expand our ability to do #WhateverItTakes to build #GREATFutures for our Club members!
On a Tuesday morning during the 2021 Masters Tournament week when most of the news occurs on the Augusta National Golf Club property, there was also significant movement afoot in downtown Augusta as a project began to revitalize two neighborhoods.
Groundbreaking was held late Tuesday morning at the corner of Fenwick Street and Chaffee Avenue for a new community center and Boys & Girls Clubs regional headquarters, the first part of a larger, multi-year project called the HUB for Community Innovation. The location is approximately 3 miles from Augusta National in the Harrisburg neighborhood and not far from the Laney Walker neighborhood, two areas pinpointed for revitalization. The plot of land is near the Calhoun Expressway and a massive medical complex that continues to grow rapidly. Ceremonial shovels turned soil Tuesday morning to plant a tree as a sign of growth in an empty field where a shopping center anchored by a grocery store was in place before closing in 2017.
Plans indicate that the two new facilities could be completed by spring 2022, perhaps by Masters week with a ribbon cutting.
The efforts are led by the Community Foundation of the CSRA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Augusta and the MCG Foundation, which has been working toward this end for quite some time. An announcement in association with corporate partners Augusta National, IBM, Bank of America, AT&T and others at last November’s Masters moved the ball forward more quickly. The revitalization project was announced to support the underserved minority communities with the partners infusing a combined $10 million, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament Fred Ridley said during his press conference five months ago.
“This project we are celebrating today, as well the substantial work ahead, has meaningful and authentic support, financial and human,” said Shell Berry, CEO of the Community Foundation for the CSRA and a project co-leader. “There is lots more to come as this moves forward. Today is really about where we are and how far we have come.”
Kim Evans, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Augusta, and also a project co-leader, called the first buildings “the cornerstone of this transformational project.”
The effort received an international boost when Chairman Ridley made the announcement in November.
“This contribution reaffirms our commitment to the City of Augusta, which has so generously supported us for decades," said Ridley, alluding to the infancy of the Tournament in the 1930s through 1950s. “We are also extremely fortunate to have partners like AT&T, Bank of America and IBM who support projects that are foundational to better educational and economic outcomes for the community.
“And we’re hopeful in April and beyond we can continue to talk about this and make announcements as to more progress to really transform this community.”
The 33,000-square foot community center will house four local non-profits: Augusta Locally Grown, Augusta University Literacy Center, Harrisburg Family Healthcare and RISE Augusta. The 16,000-square-foot Boys & Girls Club building will replace an outgrown headquarters located a few blocks away.
The neighborhoods have produced a number of prominent people in sports and the arts, including professional golfer Jim Dent, Olympic and world champion boxer Vernon Forrest, NFL fullback Emerson Boozer of the New York Jets and opera singer Jessye Norman.
Augusta National and the Community Foundation have annually worked together to support local charities through proceeds from the Masters. In early 2021, they contributed $1 million to support Augusta University and expand local COVID-19 testing, and $1 million to the CSRA COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, launched by the Community Foundation and United Way of the CSRA.
For information on the project, visit www.communityhubaugusta.org.
A donor group led by the Augusta National Golf Club intends to pump $10 million into community development in the city’s historic Harrisburg and Laney-Walker neighborhoods.
Community leaders say a $10 million gift from Augusta National Golf Club and its corporate partners announced Wednesday will provide a much needed boost to two urban neighborhoods in need of revitalization.
Augusta National’s $2.5 million gift, matched by AT&T, Bank of America and IBM, will help build a nonprofit community center known as “The Hub,” as well as a new headquarters for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Augusta, on part of a 35-acre tract owned by the Medical College of Georgia Foundation.
The property at the intersection of 15th Street and John C. Calhoun Expressway serves as a gateway to the city’s medical district and is an intersection between the city’s historic but poverty-stricken Harrisburg and Laney-Walker neighborhoods.
Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said during the annual State of the Masters address the gift will “provide the majority of funding needed for this first step in the journey to uplift these underserved communities and, importantly, to promote generational change and the opportunity for economic mobility all Americans deserve.”
“This shared belief with our partners will attract even greater development and investment designed to benefit the residents of the Harrisburg and Laney-Walker neighborhoods, all of which can help build bridges out of poverty and make Augusta, Ga., an even better place to live,” Ridley said.The money will flow into the projects through the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area, which has long been the conduit for Augusta National donations in the metro area.The two facilities – 25,000 square feet for The Hub and 15,000 square feet for the Boys & Girls Clubs office – will help the Augusta University-affiliated MCG Foundation kickstart its years-long, mixed-use redevelopment plan for the property, which was previously occupied by the Kroger-anchored Central Square shopping center.
MCG Foundation Chairman J. Benjamin Deal said discussions began to coalesce more than a year ago after consultants recommended redevelopment plans include facilities that would serve the surrounding neighborhoods. “We shifted our focus to finding ways that not only benefit Augusta University but take care of these residents, whose communities have seen so many years of disinvestment,” Deal said during a post-announcement news conference at Harrisburg’s St. Luke United Methodist Church. MCG Foundation CEO Ian Mercier said gift discussions progressed when the Augusta National rallied around the concept. “Their contribution was much more generous than we were anticipating,” Mercier said, noting that the projects will also be eligible for federal New Market Tax Credits, which can help shave off nearly 40% of project investment costs. Both the Harrisburg and Laney-Walker neighborhoods are listed as historic districts on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. The Laney-Walker/Bethlehem neighborhood, to the south and east of the city’s medical district, has been the heart of the urban core’s African-American community since the late 19th century. Harrisburg, which sits west of the city’s central business district, was a stable blue-collar neighborhood that primarily housed families working at nearby textile mills, the last of which were shuttered in the early 2000s. Both historic neighborhoods have undergone piece-meal revitalization initiatives in recent years but still have above-average poverty rates and below-average home-ownership rates for the area.
“These historic areas of Augusta are less than one mile away from Augusta National and just west of downtown,” Ridley said. “What once were thriving communities, Harrisburg and Laney-Walker have experienced decades of disinvestment, poverty, crime and unemployment.”
Officials estimated the construction costs at $13 million. Work on the buildings would run concurrently, with a groundbreaking as early as April.
“We’ve been moving forward at a very rapid pace,” Community Foundation CEO Shell N. Berry said at the post-announcement news conference. “And of course today’s announcement certainly puts a huge amount of gas in the engine to help make this vision a reality.”
The Hub, which is sub-branded as “A Center for Community Innovation,” will “foster innovation and collaborate between community organizations, corporate citizens and residents” to “ultimately transform the future of these historic neighborhoods.” Future tenants would include nonprofits such as Harrisburg Family Health Clinic, the urban gardening advocacy group Locally Grown, and Communities in Schools, a resource for public school children from disadvantaged households.
The Hub is designed to be “the epicenter” for serving “residents who grapple with poverty, a lack of access to basic resources, and generations of neglect and disinvestment.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Augusta’s current headquarters, at 206 Milledge Road, is a 4,000-square-foot former bank branch in need of extensive repairs. The new office building would dedicate space for teen workforce-development programs and other youth services.
David Seaton, national chairman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and a graduate of North Augusta High School, was in attendance at the post-announcement event and praised the gift.
“I’ve gotten an opportunity to talk to a lot of our alums, club kids, from Denzel Washington to our National Youth of the Year today, and every one of them will tell you the Boys & Girls Clubs saved their lives,” Seaton said. “What you are doing here, if you don’t take anything else away from this discussion tonight, you are saving lives.”
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