With James Brown Arena redo stalled, coliseum authority opts to rehire project executive

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HB Brantley, a managing principal of the Atlanta construction and development firm H.J. Russell & Co., points out features of the proposed new James Brown Arena at the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau on March 11, 2021. Voters shot down a referendum in November 2021 that would have helped pay for the project.
HB Brantley, a managing principal of the Atlanta construction and development firm H.J. Russell & Co., points out features of the proposed new James Brown Arena at the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau on March 11, 2021. Voters shot down a referendum in November 2021 that would have helped pay for the project.

The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority has had to halt work on its new James Brown Arena project, but is retaining its project manager.

The coliseum authority agreed on Tuesday to draft a contract that would renew the services of project executive HB Brantley as the authority reconsiders how to fund the $235 million project.

Authority chairman Cedric Johnson explained they want to keep someone on who can continue close communications with their architects, stakeholders and Augusta's Commissioners.

Brantley is a managing principal of the Atlanta construction and development firm H.J. Russell & Co. He has been one of the primary spokesmen for the project, and said he intends to accept the authority's contract. Terms of the pending contract were not discussed.

"There's a lot more work to be done," Brantley said. "We don't want to lose all of the forward momentum that we've established over the past couple of years."

More: Here's what you need to know about the James Brown Arena referendum

More: 'Just a little setback': Arena backers to seek new funding source after ballot box defeat

That momentum hit a speed bump on Nov. 2 when 65.5% of residents voted against a referendum that would have allowed the authority to borrow up to $240 million to fund the development. If it had been approved, homeowners could have expected almost $100 extra in taxes for every $100,000 of their property's assed value until the debt is paid.

Since November, the authority has paused the work with architects and others while they determined next steps. Johnson said they have accepted that the public does not want this project paid for via a property tax and they are looking at other options. He was not willing to share what those options are at this time.

James Brown Arena opened in 1979 and has never undergone a substantial remodel. The proposed replacement was to seat more than 11,000, an increase of around 3,000 from the existing one. The state-of-the-art project included numerous luxury boxes and seats, a ballroom, rooftop terrace, a park and convention and meeting space. It would be joined to the existing Bell Auditorium with a wing of shared amenities.

This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Coliseum authority to rehire executive for James Brown Arena overhaul

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