Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
Athens-Clarke County announced plans late Friday afternoon to spend $39 million redeveloping the affordable housing complex Bethel Midtown Village if voters opt to extend a 1 percent sales tax for construction projects in November.
The project, in partnership with the Athens Housing Authority and private developers Columbia Residential and Jonathan Rose Companies, would also include surrounding ACC and AHA properties, in addition to the 190-unit complex off College Avenue just north of downtown.
“This project would truly transform not only this site and the lives of its residents, but it also has the potential to provide reinvestment into the surrounding area, including downtown Athens,” Mayor Kelly Girtz said in a statement. “This partnership presents a great opportunity to expand the number of affordable and workforce homes downtown and create a healthy, sustainable and well-maintained environment for residents.”
The project would include a mix of uses, housing types and density, much like another public-private partnership, Columbia Brookside, where the AHA and Columbia Residential used tax credits to tear down the aging Jack R. Wells Homes (Pauldoe) and build an equal number of public housing units, along with additional subsidized units for low- and moderate-income families, as well as senior housing and market rate units.
Bethel is nearly 60 years old, in poor repair and has a reputation for crime, and residents and county officials have been pushing the property owner and manager, Atlanta-based H.J. Russell, to redevelop or sell it for several years. Girtz met with residents Friday morning and said the reaction was largely positive.
SPLOST 2020 includes $44.5 million earmarked for affordable housing. If voters approve, that money could be used for infrastructure like roads, sidewalks, utilities or parks associated with affordable housing projects. The remaining $5.5 million would be reserved for other projects.
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