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Blog Topic: Business, Man

  • In the Loop: Luxury Student Apartment Developer Opts Out of Downtown Tax

     

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    The Mark.

    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.”

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  • In the Loop: The Proposed Mixed-Use Development Across From Athens Regional Is Dead

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    Photo Credit: Smith Planning Group

    What could have been.

    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.

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  • In the Loop: Oconee Solar Farm Isn't Dead, Developer Says

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Wild Indigo Crossing, looking toward the proposed solar farm.

    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.

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  • In the Loop: No Plans to Redevelop Varsity Property, Commissioners Say

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    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.

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  • In the Loop: Commission Approves Ban on New Downtown Bars and Apartments

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    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."

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  • In the Loop: Creature Comforts Is Building a Second Brewery in Boulevard

    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.

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  • In the Loop: The Georgia Square Mall Macy's Is Closing

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    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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  • Homedrone: Eureka California, Mothers, Dave Marr Top Wuxtry's List of 2016 Best-Sellers

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    Photo Credit: Wuxtry Records/Facebook

    Today, Wuxtry Records—which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016—posted a list of its 20 best-selling albums of the year to the store's Facebook page.

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  • In the Loop: Planners Recommend Approving Oconee Solar Farm

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    The location of the proposed solar farm and planned subdivisions around it.

    The Oconee County planning staff, after reviewing the revised plans for the solar farm on Dials Mill Road at McNutt Creek Road, has reaffirmed its recommendation that the Board of Commissioners approve the project.

    In a report dated Dec. 27, 2016, the staff advocated that the commission grant Mr. Chick Farms Limited Partnership a special use when the commission meets at 7 p.m. today at the courthouse in Watkinsville.

    The Staff Report addresses concerns raised by citizens in public hearings on Nov. 14 and Dec. 6, calling them “understandable” but dismissing them in the end as unfounded or inconsequential.

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  • In the Loop: New Downtown Athens Hotel 'Tops Out'

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Hyatt Place general manager Angela Smith gives a tour of the still-under-construction Hyatt Place.

    Don't book your room just yet, but the new hotel next door to the Classic Center reached a milestone today, as local tourism officials and event organizers from across the Southeast gathered to celebrate the Hyatt Place's "topping out."

    The nine-story, 200-room hotel's structural elements are now in place, although it won't officially open until late May or June.

    Hyatt Place guests will spend $13.5 million per year, creating a $20 million economic impact, according to Mayor Nancy Denson. Seven hundred people are employed in its constrution, and the hotel will employ 75 people permanently, Denson said.

    Along with other downtown hotel projects—a SpringHill Suites next door to the Holiday Inn and a Homewood Suites at The Mark, a student-housing development under construction on Oconee Street—the Hyatt Place will bring the number of hotel rooms downtown to 1,360, with another 385 rooms under construction in other parts of the city, according to Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Chuck Jones.

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