Hammond's Ferry Opened Up North Augusta's Riverfront
The Star North Augusta
Hammond's Ferry is a classic traditional neighborhood development (TND) built on the Savannah River in North Augusta. It was a collaborative effort that came together in the late 1990s to open up the riverfront for development for the first time.
The hallmarks of a TND include walkability, sidewalks, rear-loaded alleys, etc., explained Hammond's Ferry project manager Bobby Bagwell.
For nearly a century the riverfront of North Augusta was unavailable for residential development. As a result, in the early years of the City's existence, the property became industrial. Through the 1940s local folks were familiar with the pottery industry that thrived there, followed by brick manufacturing, a cotton mill, oil company, lumber yard, furniture veneer business, welding and fabrication shop, the North Augusta Dispensary (where they bought their liquor) and Hankinson Dairy.
But as those businesses died, in part as a result of the periodic and unpredictable flooding that plagued the riverfront, the property lay largely dormant until the 1990s.
A series of events converged to make new development possible - First, in the 1950s the dam was built at Clarks Hill, which reduced the possibility of flooding along the river. Then in the early 1990s, there was a major change in the flood plain designation, again allowing for riverfront development.
Hammond's Ferry history
Officials at the City of North Augusta saw the potential for developing the relatively untouched riverfront and began working toward acquiring acreage and looking for a partnership.
The kernel that grew into the riverfront development came out of Mayor Lark Jones' interest in I'On of Charleston. He became acquainted with Vince Graham, whose company Civitas developed the Mt. Pleasant TND, and city officials started the ball rolling.
Bagwell said the City managed to pull together around 200 acres, extending from the 13th Street Bridge to Campbelltown Landing along the river, and in turn Graham joined forces with Leyland Alliance of New York. That was in 1999. (Graham eventually sold his interest in the project; however, Leyland is still involved through the Hammond's Ferry development corporation.)
Work began with a charette to get local input on what North Augustans would like to see on the river, and then a multi-phase plan was developed. Included in the proposed plan were single and multi-family residences plus a small commercial area - a concept true to Traditional Neighborhood Development, which features a combination of greenspace (parks, walkways, etc.) plus residential and commercial.
Sitework began on the first phase around 2005, with the first residence occupied in 2006 and the first commercial business, Manuel's Bread Cafe, in 2009.
During that early development, one unexpected find were the remains of a Native American village, a "first contact" site from the time when the Spanish were coming up the river. Artifacts found there were transported to Columbia for study and may eventually be displayed in North Augusta.
Today there are around 115 homes on site, 28 remaining lots in the first phases and 60 acres yet to be developed, said Bagwell.
"That includes the Town Center and the Westo Development," explained Bagwell of the yet undeveloped acreage. He said Hammond's Ferry is in the process of developing a town center, while about 17 acres on the Campbelltown Landing border were sold to the Westo Development group.
Bagwell said today the homes in Hammond's Ferry are in a price range from $189,000 for Charleston Place, townhomes of approximately 1,600 square feet constructed by local builder Ken Newsome, to around $1.5 million for a large, single-family dwelling. The largest home in Hammond's Ferry, he said, is close to 5,000 square feet.
In the TND style, the homes are on compact lots, so are built up rather than out, Bagwell detailed, adding that one success of the residential area has been that many owners built second-floor garage apartments which have proved attractive to GHSU medical students, in particular.
Bagwell explained there are now eight businesses operating in Hammond's Ferry, with more to come as the town center becomes a reality. Manuel's Bread Cafe opened in 2009j followed by David Towle's Edge Salon in 2010. The most recent addition is a second restaurant, Taste, opened by Brian Bridgers recently. In addition, New Fire Social Media with Jeremy Mace and Turner Simkins operates in offices above Edge, as does Rhonda Frye's accounting business, "Help Me, Rhonda," as well as the Hammond's Ferry Development Office and Blanchard and Calhoun, which is marketing some of the homes. And builder Ken Newsome is based in Hammond's Ferry as is Bill Smith with Designs by Smith.
"The commercial node has far exceeded our expectations," said Bagwell, who said the plan was always to have "destination retail" at Hammond's Ferry.
The town center is the next phase to be orchestrated, with a target of around the beginning of 2013 for breaking ground." Our plan is to start with 20,000-square-feet of mixed-use retail," said Bagwell, who added the plan is also for a mix of single family and multi-family residential, townhomes and then commercial outparcels. "We've talked to 40 or 50 prospects," he said of the business side.
Greenspace and Streets
Among major milestones thus far listed by Bagwell are the completion of the riverfront portion of the Greeneway and the loop through Hammond's Ferry, Boeckh Park and Pavilion, rehabilitation and construction of Brick Pond Park - all done as a collaboration with the City of North Augusta and Hammond's Ferry.
Bagwell pointed to the original Boeckh Plat of 1891 and explained that development at Hammond's Ferry has attempted to stay true to the plat as much as possible. The most obvious indicator of that is the return to many of the street names that were listed on the plat- Railroad Avenue, Front Street, Cleveland Avenue (to be used in the new phase). Other names, like Falmouth, hearken back to North Augusta's early history.
A working farm was also established in Hammond's Ferry. Blue Clay Farm was eventually taken over by Manuel's and is now used as a chef's garden, including chickens and ducks in the mix.
Bagwell pointed out that the advantage of a TND developed through a PD (planned development) ordinance is that such a project is afforded some flexibility. "It's allowed us to be creative," he commented.