Featured photo: At right, Charles “Champ” Walker Jr. unveils artist rendering of a new plaza that will be located on James Brown Boulevard. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
A neighborhood corner store on James Brown Boulevard is a sign of economic redevelopment to an area of town long known as the Golden Blocks.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony May 26 for a new mural dedicated to six African American Women of Empowerment, Charles “Champ” Walker Jr. unveiled a new plaza that will be constructed next to The Lucky Spot at 1129 James Brown Blvd.
The Lucky Spot, which also marked its grand opening on May 26, offers some fresh produce and other food items in an area that has long been considered a food desert, or a geographic space with limited access to healthy food.
“It takes passion, commitment and dedication to invest in your community,” said Walker, showing the artist renderings of the facility which will be constructed over the next three years. “My father has spent a half century investing in this community.”
Since 1976, former Sen. Charles Walker, Champ Walker’s father, has operated multiple businesses in Augusta’s downtown district. His first store was on the corner of Milledgeville Road and 15th Street. Over the years, he’s owned several more stores and placed his business, The Walker Group, at the site of the former Pilgrim Health and Life Insurance Co. on Laney-Walker Boulevard in the early 1990s.
The Walker Group building includes law offices, a publishing company and a staffing service.
Champ Walker, CEO of Friends of the Movement Global, said his father even advised him to keep his own business located in the heart of the city.
“I used to want to move to Washington Road, Martinez or Evans, and he would always sit me down and say ‘Champ, that sounds good. We’ve been blessed that we could move our businesses to those areas, but if you are not invested in your own business, in your own community, who will?’” Champ Walker said.
Across the country, people have pulled out of the inner city and moved to the suburbs to the detriment of those living in that area.
“You have to have someone invest,” he said.
The plaza on James Brown Boulevard will extend from The Lucky Spot to the corner of Laney-Walker Boulevard, where the former Church’s Chicken stands. Having a plaza has been a longtime dream for the former senator, who said he tried to start one several years ago.
Former Sen. Charles Walker said nine buildings will eventually occupy the space, and that he’s working on putting another fast-food restaurant in the former Church’s building.
Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson attended the ribbon cutting to celebrate the mural, but he included The Lucky Spot in his remarks.
“This is a celebration of what I consider the rejuvenation of the Golden Blocks,” he said. “As a kid, I remember this area fondly. It was the hub of the Black community. I am so excited about its direction with The Lucky Spot creating new investments for those who live here, creating new opportunities for our city,” he said.
The Women of Empowerment mural highlights six female educators – Ursula Collins, Marjorie Carter, Louise Laney, Rosa T. Beard, Rosa C. Tutt and Ruth Crawford and is painted on one of the building’s exterior walls. Another Golden Blocks’ mural will be painted on an additional exterior wall.
Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at email@example.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.
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