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Transforming Augusta: A conversation with the Hoffmann Family of Companies

Changes are happening quickly in Augusta with the summer months bringing new businesses to the historic St. Charles County town.

“Within 30 to 60 days, we will be putting in a general store, bike shop with bike rentals, gas station (and) vineyard Gator tours,” Chris Armstrong, Hoffmann Creative Agency’s chief marketing officer said in an interview on June 1.

Other new businesses “coming soon” include carriage rides, horseback riding and Kaleidoscope Floral, offering arrangements and home decor.

Armstrong also noted that the company “welcomes interested parties to contact us for available buildings and business ideas in our other spaces.”

Montelle Winery building freshly painted (John Tremmel photo)

In recent months, the company has removed overgrown bushes and shrubs from multiple properties as well as many of the trees on the hillside behind Montelle Winery that provided welcome shade to guests.

When asked about the company’s landscaping plans, Armstrong said, “We will be planting additional vines, for example, on the hill at Montelle Winery and Balducci Winery. New landscaping will be installed where the statues have been installed as well as around buildings with renovation is completed.”

Armstrong said that sun-sails and umbrellas will be used to help avoid summer sun heat on the huge Montelle Winery deck, now that almost all trees were removed from near the deck. The statues he referred to include, among others, a grouping of life-sized bronze sculptures featuring Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, which is located at the intersection of Jackson and Locust streets.

Montelle deck with most trees removed (John Tremmel photo)

One of the company’s more ambitious new projects is the development of a luxury hotel in the greater Augusta area. Its location is still a mystery.

“We intend to break ground by November with a 1- to 2-year build-out,” Armstrong said. “Site selection is still in process with one possibility being in Marthasville at the Emmaus Homes Campus we purchased.”

Emmaus Home (source: Hoffmann Creative Agency)

In addition to Emmaus Homes Campus, the company has also added to its earlier acquisitions with the purchase of NOA Medical Industries in Washington, Missouri, and is under a letter of intent to purchase Mid-American Coaches.

Planned uses for the coaches include offering shuttles into the greater St. Louis area, including to and from Lambert International Airport; and to and from St. Charles and Washington.

In addition, the Miss Augusta, a 96-foot luxury yacht offering sightseeing tours, private events and a connection to the area by water, the company announced in late May. The yacht is expected to set sail this fall and will cruise between a 120-foot dock in Klondike Park Boat Ramp, three miles east of Augusta on Hwy. 94, and Washington. A water connection between Augusta and the city of St. Charles is also a possibility.

Hofffmann luxury yacht (source: Hoffmann Creative Agency)

The dock project in Klondike Park is the result of a collaboration between the Hoffmann Family of Companies and St. Charles County. The company will pay a per-person fee to the county parks department for use of the dock. Off-site parking will be established in order to avoid impeding on the use of the boat ramp by park patrons. 

Plans for a paddle boat and dock in Washington are in the works. The paddle boat would offer tours and transportation to and from Washington to Augusta, crisscrossing with the Miss Augusta.

“Augusta and St. Charles are so based on the waterfront, that’s how the area was built. So, it’s really exciting to showcase that portion. There’s nothing on the water right now, so you’ll be able to take tours up and down to Washington and to St. Charles and back. We’re just really excited to showcase the area,” said Jenny Gezella, president of the Naples Princess and head of boating operations for the Hoffmann Family of Companies.

The Miss Augusta intends to start operations this fall with the goal of its first cruise before the winter.

One of two Molley’s Trolleys (John Tremmel photo)

The vintage “Molley’s Trolleys” that already provide transportation between Hoffmann-owned properties would also transport passengers from the boats to town.

“There is no cost to ride the wine trolleys. They run approximately every 15 to 30 minutes between the (existing, but soon to be expanded) Klondike Park boat ramp, Montelle Winery, Augusta Winery, Mount Pleasant Estate Winery and Balducci Winery.  Trolley hours are Fridays from noon to 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., plus holiday schedules.  Trolleys are available for private group tours as well,” Armstrong said. “We actually have three trolleys to use as needed.”

So far, the response from the community has been welcoming, Armstrong said. “Overall we have been welcomed and accepted by the community.  There are always concerns surrounding change and not everyone will always be happy, but the overwhelming majority have welcomed us and what we are doing.”

He noted that the goal is to make Augusta a destination for wine aficionados.

“Plans are to make Augusta, Missouri, and Missouri wines known to the nation while maintaining the (city’s) history, charm and heritage of being the first wine region in America,” Armstrong said.

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