The Athens-Clarke County Commission voted to approve the North Athens Downtown Development Project on Sept. 30. Today, Mayor Kelly Girtz and the chair of the housing authority will meet again to sign a memorandum on the development project.
So, What Does This Mean?
The Athens-Clarke County government will partner with the Athens Housing Authority on the project. They will spend almost $40 million to redevelop the low-income Bethel Midtown Village apartment complex. The Bethel Midtown Village is on 105 and 155 Hickman Drive. The apartments have 190 units, and 183 of those units are affordable units geared toward multi-families. Residents may find financial assistance to living there with the Loan Management Set-Aside Program.
“If voters approve the SPLOST 2020 referendum on Nov. 5, the Unified Government would provide $39 million for this North Athens Downtown Development Project from the $44.5 million in funds budgeted in the Affordable Housing Project that is part of the SPLOST 2020 program,” he said.
What Are They Planning On Doing?
The mayor’s statement said the apartments of Bethel Midtown Village and surrounding areas will see major improvements.
“This initiative would replace and increase the number of affordable housing units with state of the art, high quality of management of the units, and improve development opportunities in the area for a variety of uses,” he said.
Why Bethel Midtown Village?
Girtz said they picked remodeling Bethel Midtown Village in order to help an area of town that has had struggled in the past.
“This is a property that has long been challenged, and has been under-managed, and in which residents have not had a very good experience as residents,” Girtz said.
The mayor said they have not yet come up with plans for what the redevelopment is going to look like.
“We don’t have an idea of what it’s going to look like,” Girtz said. “I mean certainly when you get involved in this kind of project. You at least need to mock up on the front end, kind of what the property could hold, how many residents it could maintain, but we haven’t taken it much future than that because we want the existing residents to be involved in that process.”
Where Will the Residents Live During and After the Project?
Girtz said he wants to work with the residents to ensure that the residents get priority to living there again once the project is done.
What Do Some People Think About the Project?
McKayla Dye, a resident of Bethel Midtown Village for four months, said she likes living in the area.
“I like the area. I like the commute. It’s right in the middle of downtown, so 6 miles to Walmart on Lexington Road, 6 miles to Walmart of Epps,” Dye said. “I like where I live at, so I hope I get to stay here.”
Dye talked about why she thinks the project would benefit the community.
Julia Sanders is a senior journalism major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
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