Oconee County expects to open Parkway Boulevard from the Oconee Connector to Kohl’s by the end of May, county Public Works Director Emil Beshara told a meeting of the regional metropolitan transportation planning organization on Wednesday.
Construction on the roadway is “winding down,” Beshara told the group, with work remaining only on such things as pedestrian islands, guardrails, and striping.
The roadway will allow traffic to flow from Epps Bridge Parkway just inside Oconee County at the bridge over McNutt Creek to one of the entrances to Epps Bridge Centre or onto the Loop and Highway 316, or the reverse.
The county decided to spend $3.35 million to build the roadway not as a means of relieving traffic but to open up the area for further commercial development.
Oconee County told Mercedes-Benz of Athens on Friday that the county will not be able to provide sewer service for the planned new auto dealership on Highway 316 at Virgil Langford Road for another 12–18 months.
The announcement coincided with the release of a memorandum stating that those requesting letters of availability of sewer service be advised of limited capacity in parts of the county’s service area and the complete lack of availability in others, including where the Mercedes-Benz facility is planned.
The county released the announcement on sewer capacity in a meeting of the county’s Development Review Committee, which was considering the preliminary site plan and site development plans for the new auto dealership.
The DRC approved the Preliminary Site Plan, but Sandy Weinel, assistant director of the Planning and Code Enforcement Department, told a representative of Mercedes-Benz the firm will have to build a private septic system if it wants to move forward before sewer capacity is available.
Praise the Lord, Athenians (and engaged couple) Rachel Barnes and Alfredo Lapuz Jr. are just a few steps away from launching their food truck, Manila Express, which should start serving at various locations very soon. You might have seen the truck, with its temporary sign, parked next to Holy Crepe at Boulevard and Park.
Barnes says Manila Express gets its name from Lapuz's dad's band, and will likely set up shop on East Clayton next to Atomic or on Hancock at Creature Comforts, as well as elsewhere. She points out that Filipino street food goes well with brews, and describes the truck's offerings as "pulutan-esque items," which translates as "to pair with beer."
Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file
Athens-Clarke County Commissioners criticized the developers of The Mark—the massive luxury student apartment complex under construction on Oconee Street—for being the only major development downtown to opt out of enlarged downtown boundaries the commission approved Tuesday.
The area covered by the Athens Downtown Development Authority was set in 1977, but since the downtown area has greatly expanded. The ADDA is seeking to expand its boundaries north of Dougherty Street and along Prince Avenue, North Avenue and Oconee Street.
The authority gave property owners the option of opting out of the district. Despite paying an additional one mill in property taxes ($1 per $2,500 of property value), only a handful elected not to be a part of the ADDA.
"Unfortunately, there were a couple of folks who elected not to be part of the boundaries, a couple of them I think rationally so—very small scale residential properties, one very small scale commercial property… but there’s one large property that’s not include, The Mark,” Commissioner Kelly Girtz said. “That’s a disappointment to me, and I certainly hope folks will recognize there are benefits of being in the ADDA district down the road.”
Photo Credit: Smith Planning Group
A mixed-use development on Prince Avenue that actually excited the neighborhood will no longer be happening.
Piedmont Athens Regional spokesman Mike Pilcher confirmed an Athens Banner-Herald report last night that the developers behind the project—Bryan Austin, John Stamm and Trey Wallace—have abandoned it. The project was slated for six acres next to the "flying saucer" Rite-Aid that are owned by the hospital and are currently used as a parking lot.
"The developer was unable to find an anchor tenant," Pilcher said.
When the developers of Wildflower Meadows, a 263- acre subdivision in northwestern Oconee County, wanted to launch the project in 2006, they assembled 10 different pieces of property to accommodate the proposed 170 lots.
The largest of the 10 assembled tracts was a 113-acre parcel owned by the Hammond family of Gainesville.
Another tract of 12 acres also was owned by the Hammond family, and today it provides one of the two Wildflower Meadows entrances off Dials Mill Road.
The decision of the family to sell the two tracts in 2006 came back to haunt it on Jan. 3, when the Oconee County Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 against a rezone request for an adjoining 204.8 acres owned by the Hammond family.
In spite of rumors that have swirled for months and recently intensified, Athens-Clarke County commissioners say they've been assured that the owners of iconic fast-food restaurant The Varsity have no imminent plans to redevelop the property.
The Gordy family, which owns the chain of seven restaurants, has assembled nearly the entirely block bordered by Milledge Avenue and Broad, Chase and Reese streets, including purchasing the Dairy Queen that closed last year and several homes.
Most of the rumors involve the property becoming a mixed-use development featuring a Publix grocery story, with The Varsity either becoming part of the new development or moving to Epps Bridge Parkway. Others have speculated that the Gordys merely want more parking for car shows and game days, or that the property will become student housing—which seems unlikely, given that its commercial zoning would only allow about 30 apartments.
ACC Commissioner Jerry NeSmith addressed the rumors at last night's commission meeting, saying that an agent for The Varsity and Publix called him Monday to assure him nothing is currently in the works.
Photo Credit: Blake Aued/file
As expected, the Athens-Clarke County Commission approved a temporary ban on most new downtown bars and apartment buildings Tuesday night over concerns about overcrowding and the downtown drinking culture.
The ban covers bars with a capacity greater than 49 people, unless they open in a space that housed a bar within the past year, and apartments with more than three units. It will last for up to one year while a consultant conducts a study on downtown health and safety, and commissioners consider potential new regulations.
Mayor Nancy Denson said she placed the moratorium on the commission's agenda Monday afternoon to give officials a chance to get a handle on "crowding" and related challenges delivering services like garbage pickup, as well as "excessive drinking."
Photo Credit: courtesy of Creature Comforts
Creature Comforts will renovate part of an old mill off Chase Street just north of Boulevard into an $8 million new brewery slated to open this fall, the Athens company announced today.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission unanimously approved a $475,000 taxpayer contribution to the project at a specially called meeting tonight. The county Industrial Development Authority will use the money to buy brewing equipment that it will lease to Creature Comforts for a nominal fee for five years, after which Creature Comforts will own the equipment.
"This is an Athens company, and we want to keep those expansions here," ACC Manager Blaine Williams said.
The Georgia Square Mall Macy’s is one of 68 that will close this year as the company—like most brick-and-mortar department stores—continues to face declining revenue.
The Athens location, one of 880 nationwide, will close Mar. 1, potentially putting 69 employees out of work. Overall, the department-store chain is shedding more than 6,000 jobs.
According to a press release:
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