City DopeNews

Townhouses Proposed on Narrow Pulaski Street

Credit: Arcollab/Koons Environmental Design

The Athens-Clarke County Commission will vote Dec. 7 on a new type of denser residential development for Pulaski Street.

Developers are planning to build 16 three-story, two- and three-bedroom townhouses on Pulaski. The zoning in place on the property just south of the railroad tracks allows for multifamily residential development. The request is to waive a requirement for ground-floor commercial space. Instead, an abandoned cotton mill behind the townhouses would be converted into commercial space at a later date.

Commissioner Ovita Thornton, who represents the area, said at a meeting last month that she was unable to attend a community meeting on the issue, but based on the 8-1 approval by the planning commission, “it looks like I would support this, but I will do my due diligence,” she said.

Commissioners Mariah Parker and Patrick Davenport raised concerns about too much density on the narrow street. “This looks like an awful lot of stuff to put on a street that’s already congested,” Parker said. “You can hardly get down the street.”

Architects Arcollab and Koons Environmental Design said in a submission to the ACC Planning Department that concerns about scale would be alleviated because houses across the street sit on top of a steep hill, making the roof heights about the same.

In addition to the width of the street, Commissioners Jesse Houle and Melissa Link also raised concerns about how affordable the units would be. They’re architecturally similar to the new single-family homes on Pulaski, also designed by Lori Bork Newcomer, that are worth $500,000 or $600,000. “I feel like if we’re going to grant these variances, there should be some affordable housing in there somewhere,” Link said.

Commissioners Carol Myers, Russell Edwards and Tim Denson, though, said the neighborhood, being close to campus and downtown, is appropriate for higher-density development. “There is a modern aesthetic in this neighborhood,” Edwards said. “This architect’s done great work throughout the county… To me it’s an opportunity to drive up our housing stock in a very desirable neighborhood.”

No members of the public spoke about the development at the agenda-setting meeting. Three nearby residents submitted written comments in support of it to the planning department, although one asked for a sound barrier and another wanted a second entrance to the parking and garages behind the townhomes.

A similar project was proposed for the property in 2016, with 20 condominiums and a community market, but it fell through.