Anybody willing to talk about Riverfront Commons?

Column by Chris Graham

I was asked to take part in a session with the consultants who have been hired to assist the city of Waynesboro with the city’s review of its comprehensive plan a couple of weeks, and one thing that struck me during the session was how silent those of us who were yakking away about how we would improve the city if given carte blanche got when the conversation turned to Riverfront Commons.

It’s almost like people here are afraid to say the words out loud – for fear that the project will be forever jinxed, if that hasn’t happened already.

I first wrote about the project last spring – when those in the know were telling me that an announcement regarding Riverfront Commons was imminent.

The skinny on the project: The plan calls for the development of more than 1 million square feet of residential and commercial properties on 50 acres situated between Broad Street and Race Avenue in the heart of Downtown Waynesboro.

Oh, and you can’t forget the bottom line – the project would cost an estimated $100 million-plus.

Which is probably why we haven’t been hearing anything about it for a while – because as good an idea as it would seem to be, finding investors willing to pony up that kind of cash is never easy.

And then factor in the uncertain political climate right now in the River City – where the next city-council election could reverse the ongoing spate of community reinvestment in an instant.

This is something worth keeping our eyes on – because with the activity going on at the Wayne Theatre, the time seems to be now to put this kind of a capper on the rebirth of Downtown Waynesboro.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.

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