Augusta’s Central Business District
Augusta, GA, is the largest city in the region of Georgia and South Carolina known as the Savannah River Region – or to locals, the CSRA. Located along the banks of the Savannah River, most of Richmond County is part of Augusta’s city limits. Like many cities, several suburban areas surrounding the city are home to much of the area’s population, and through the years Augusta has expanded to include multiple major pockets of business activity – including large parts of both Wrightsboro and Washington Road. Despite this expansion, the central business district in downtown Augusta remains a hub of activity and has seen significant revitalization in recent years, as multiple businesses and restaurants are choosing to anchor their physical locations to the downtown area.
Almost 200 years ago, the Augusta downtown area became a center for manufacturing in the late 1840s, when the Augusta Canal was built. The Canal was built in 1845 to harness flood waters and to provide power, water and transportation to homes and businesses in the area. The first factories were completed by 1847 and made the Augusta area a recognized manufacturing hub in the South, where business owners could save money versus basing their business in a more Northern state. By the early 1900s, union workers’ dissatisfaction with pay and working conditions dissolved the majority of the textile industry in the area. Today, the Augusta Canal, managed by the Augusta Canal Authority, is still serving its original purposes, but it is primarily a recreational attraction. The Augusta Canal Discovery Center at Enterprise Mill offers historical tours, and paths running along the Canal can be used for walking, running and cycling. King Mills and Sibley Mills, located along the Canal, are currently in use/development after years of neglect, serving at the home of Augusta Cyberworks, a cybersecurity training school.
While the manufacturing industry grew and declined in Augusta, the city’s medical industry was slowly but steadily growing. In 1818, City Hospital was opened, and in 1829, it became home to the Medical Academy of Georgia. For more than 100 years, the two operated together; then, in the 1950s, City Hospital – now operating under the name University Hospital – and the Medical Academy of Georgia separated and the college opened a separate facility. Currently, University Hospital and the Medical College of Georgia, now part of Augusta University, as well as the Augusta VA Medical Center, make up the Augusta Medical District. In recent years, University Hospital purchased Trinity Hospital, which now operates as University Hospital – Summerville campus. A third healthcare system is also located in Augusta – 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 and the Marriott Hotel. Multiple restaurants have opened on Broad Street in the past five years, including Farmhaus, Craft & Vine, Pineapple Tavern and Whiskey Bar Kitchen. Taxslayer recently renovated the former YMCA facilities on Broad Street to serve as their headquarters. To celebrate the businesses and restaurants on Broad Street, area businesses host First Friday on the first Friday of each month.