The Central Business District in Augusta
Augusta, GA, is the largest city in the region of Georgia and South Carolina known as the Central Savannah River District – or to most locals, the CSRA. The city is located along the banks of the Savannah River and includes most of Richmond County. Like many modern mid-sized cities, many of the area’s residents live in one of multiple suburban areas surrounding the city, and Augusta itself now includes multiple major pockets of business activity – including large parts of Washington Road and Wrightsboro Road. Still, downtown Augusta is considered the central business district and it remains a hub of activity for multiple businesses – both large and small. Furthermore, Augusta is seeing indicators of significant revitalization in recent years, as new businesses – and the occasional movie – are choosing to bring their business to the area.
The Augusta downtown area became a center for manufacturing in the late 1840s, with the creation of the Augusta Canal. The Canal was built in 1845 to provide power, water and transportation to homes and businesses in the area. By 1847, several factories were completed, making Augusta a relevant Southern hub for manufacturing. Unfortunately, this relevance waned by the early 1900s, and the prominent textile industry faded as area workers grew increasingly dissatisfied with pay and working conditions. In present day, the Augusta Canal is managed by the Augusta Canal Authority, and it is used primarily as a tourist attraction, providing historical tours and recreational activities (paths running alongside the trail are suitable for walking, running and cycling). Additionally, King and Sibley Mills, located along the Canal, was recently revitalized after years of neglect, and now serves as the home of Augusta Cyberworks, a cybersecurity training school.
While the Augusta Canal saw magnetic growth followed by significant decline, Augusta’s Medical District saw slower but more steady growth. City Hospital opened in 1818, and by 1829, it was home to the Medical Academy of Georgia. In the 1950s, City Hospital – known in present day as University Hospital – and the Medical Academy of Georgia separated and the college opened a separate facility. Today, University Hospital and the Medical College of Georgia, which is now part of Augusta University, along with the Augusta VA Medical Center, make up the Augusta Medical District. University Hospital also operates University Hospital – Summerville campus, which was previously Trinity Hospital, as well as several primary care campuses across the area. Augusta is also home to a third healthcare system, Doctors Hospital, but their campus is not downtown.
Downtown Augusta is also home to a number of small businesses, hotels, and restaurants on Broad Street, Reynolds Street and Greene Street, including the Augusta Convention Center, Marriott Hotel and the Hyatt Hotel, a recent addition at the corner of 13th Street and Broad. Multiple restaurants have opened on Broad Street in the past five years, including three restaurants by chef and restaurateur Sean Wight of Frog Hollow Hospitality – Farmhaus Burger, Frog Hollow, and Craft and Vine – with a fourth in the works. Taxslayer renovated the former YMCA facilities on Broad Street to serve as their headquarters in 2018. The downtown area is also home to multiple performing arts facilities, including the recently renovated and reopened Miller Theater, the Imperial Theater, Bell Auditorium and James Brown Arena. To celebrate local culture, Broad Street businesses host First Friday on the first Friday of each month.