￼–Reported by Lindsay Tuman
Selig Enterprises has withdrawn their proposal to build a shopping center next to downtown Athens. The plan was announced two years ago this November. The proposed site was at Oconee Street and East Broad.
The backlash at the proposal was swift, especially against the planned Walmart. ￼
Locals didn’t like the idea of the expansion which was supposed to include new apartments as well as commercial space. Now they celebrate this win as a step in the right direction against corporate America. ￼
Available, that’s what the signs say all around this property. And for now, they’re here to stay. ￼
Jim Adams has owned his Adam’s Optic for 34 years, and he couldn’t be happier to see the end of these plans. ￼ He said, “It was ill conceived from the beginning, and I’m glad they’ve stopped it.”
Adams says the plan for development would have caused too much traffic, and the last thing downtown Athens needs is more chain businesses. Devin Clower, owner of the store Frontier, is also glad these plans are over. She said, “I think it’s awesome that we beat this development and Atlanta isn’t coming to Athens because that is not the type of development that we need.”
With this developmet off the table, she still thinks the area is filled with potential, even for a chain store. Clower said, “I think a mix of development is totally fine.”
For now, the lot stays empty. Store owners do hope to see the spaces fill up soon, next time with a more community focused plan. ￼ Adams said, “We want to be different, we don’t want to be another Macon, or Tifton or whatever.”
Grady Newsource also spoke with city commissioner Jared Bailey about the development. He said many of the reasons why Selig Enterprises pulled out were due to lack of funds and the potentially huge traffic problems.￼ Right now there aren’t any other offers on the table since they just pulled out yesterday, but Bailey says they are looking into some other options, maybe even a grocery store. Business owners seemed to seemed open to that idea. They just hope the focus stays on improving the Athens community and keeping the local vibe alive.