A Greenville, SC, developer has been meeting quietly with Athens-Clarke County officials and neighborhood groups and is expected to release plans for the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church property soon.
According to Davis Property Group’s website, the development firm, which specializes in multifamily mixed-use development, is tentatively planning 125 apartments and 25,000 square feet of retail space on the property at the corner of Prince Avenue and Pulaski Street.
The property has been on the market for some time, as the church and school are moving to Epps Bridge Road. Rumors have been circulating since March that redevelopment is imminent.
A rendering on the Davis website (above) shows the church building preserved next to what appears to be a small grocery store labeled "Prince Ave. Market."
Davis Property Group’s local attorney, Jim Warnes, told the Athens Banner-Herald that a “non-chain” grocery store will be part of the tenant mix.
Delene Porter, the board chairwoman for Daily Groceries, was noncommittal when asked whether the Prince Avenue co-op was planning to move into the new development:
Daily is bursting at the seams, and we've started working on a feasibility study to determine if, when, where and how we might expand to meet the community's needs. We love ideas, but we're going slowly. Our first priority is to keep Daily strong.
Davis representatives have already met with ACC Commissioner Melissa Link and have scheduled meetings with the Boulevard and Cobbham neighborhood associations and others over the next week, sources said.
Link described the development as appropriately dense for the outskirts of downtown, but not so dense that it will infringe on nearby single-family neighborhoods. It is not student-oriented, she said.
“I feel really good about it right now, actually,” said Link, who’s been a vocal critic of luxury student apartments and massive development downtown.
The developer will be asking for traffic-calming measures on Prince Avenue as part of its zoning request, she said.
The grocery store and level of density Davis wants will require a rezoning. But in lieu of a straight rezoning, Davis is likely to ask for a planned development, in which a developer and planners negotiate over every aspect of a development rather than strictly follow the zoning code, allowing more flexibility for developers in exchange for concessions. PDs go through the planning commission and the county commission with public input at each step.