City DopeNews

Athens Church to Build Satellite Location in Alps Road Shopping Center

A rendering of the proposed second Athens Church at Athens Promenade.

A nondenominational mega-church is planning to build a satellite facility in a shopping center where parking is already at a premium, as residents of Beechwood Hills have learned.

Housed in the former Walmart on Huntington Road, Athens Church is planning to renovate 40,000 square feet in the back of what was Steinmart and the basements of other businesses in Athens Promenade, including Michael’s. Church leaders plan to create a 1,000-seat auditorium and room for 500 children. Its website says it is, “Creating a church that unchurched people love to attend!”

Lead pastor Sean Seay said in a YouTube video that he and other leaders began praying about creating a satellite operation two years ago, adding that the finished space would be “absolutely awesome.” Married Groups and Starting Point Director Stephen Sowell will be in charge at Beechwood.

Beechwood Promenade LLC is owned by Dave Mulkey, who also owns the Market at Epps Bridge LLC, the shopping center where Trader Joe’s is located.

Athens-Clarke County officials are currently reviewing the plans, but they won’t require commission approval because the church is not seeking a rezoning or code variance.

The transformation of the space is expected to cost $10 million and to take two years. Seay said in the video that Athens Church has $5 million in hand, and that some attendees had contributed another $1 million. Cards with a QR code were available so churchgoers could determine how much they could afford to contribute to the building effort.