Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mike Hamungus thinks he can kill two drones with one stone: fill up the vacant storefronts lining the desolate wasteland that’s Atlanta Highway, and finally do something about Athens’ crime problem.
Accused cop-killer Jamie Hood, now 66, is finally set to go trial in June after his 87th continuance. That is, if there’s any room on the docket after Gov. Paul Broun III slashed funding for criminal justice by 70 percent in his fiscal 2046 budget. And if there’s anywhere to try him, assuming Mayor Nancy Denson wins approval for her plan to auction off all remaining city-owned buildings downtown to student housing developers.
Hamungus’ solution—announced at a recent Atlanta Highway Study Committee meeting—is to use SPLOST 2044 funds to create a Thunderdome-style venue on the corridor for defendants to duke it out. The proposal is contingent on finding a big box that hasn’t collapsed into ruins, but the former Aldi looks promising, he said.
“It’s economic development,” Hamungus said, noting that inmates purchasing chain saws at the downtown Urban Wal-fitters will generate tax revenue, and that the facility could draw artisan medieval-weapons smiths to the area. Plus, the Clarke County Jail, last expanded in 2016, is severely overcrowded.
Meanwhile, Denson’s aforementioned proposal to liquidate City Hall, the water business office and the courthouse to pay for additional Chicken Ban Enforcement Division officers is drawing some opposition.
Landmark Properties, the parent company of the University of Georgia, has already filed a variance request to add a 150-story dorm to its portfolio of luxury downtown student housing.
“This is totally out of scale,” said Tony Nimby, president of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation. “Nothing in our historic downtown core is taller than 80 stories. We have a 1,000-foot height limit for a reason.”
Landmark is flush with cash after moving the Bulldogs to the state-of-the-art Richt Coliseum in Alpharetta. “Our metro Atlanta donors told us that they were no longer willing to sit in traffic for 11 hours to attend a game,” Senior Vice President for Sportsball Nicholas C. Chubb said in a statement. “In the same way, we are meeting the demands of our students to have their every whim catered to.”
Amenities at the new development would include a Zaxby’s inside each apartment, complementary Jager bombs and wi-fi fast enough for students to download lectures through their phone-brain interface in seconds, relieving them of the responsibility of ever attending class. The technology will allow UGA to lay off hundreds of adjunct professors, in addition to the savings from ending tenure and rescinding health care benefits in recent years.
Denson was not available for comment. Her self-driving SUV self-drove itself over her leg last week, and she is having a replacement installed.
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