There won't be a Wal-Mart on the Armstrong & Dobbs property on Oconee Street, but there will be 102,000 square feet of commercial space. And 372 residential units, or 990 beds, with 1,483 parking spaces. The mixed use development--which doesn't include office space--will be the biggest structure on Oconee Street and will be geared, living-wise, to UGA students.
On Thursday night, the Planning Commission voted to give Selig Enterprises a special use permit--with conditions--that will allow the company to build 15 residential units on the ground floor along Wilkerson Street. County rules require mixed-use buildings to have commercial tenants on the ground floor, but a special use permit allows an application an exception.
"We're trading up," said Planning Commission Chairman Paul Dellaria before the commission members voted unanimously to approve the permit. "We're getting a better project and we're getting some perks," such as more trees and better pedestrian access.
Several people spoke in favor of giving Selig the permit, saying that it's not appropriate to put commercial tenants on such a steeply sloped part of the development. But most of those speaking at the meeting opposed not only the permit, but the entire project. They objected to its size, its orientation toward a transient population, its cookie cutter nature and its car-centric design, among other features.
After the vote, Planning Commission member Maxine Easom addressed Selig officials in the audience. She told them the community surrounding the proposed development "is called East Athens, and not just the University of Georgia." She urged them to think of those living on Poplar, Peter and First streets and of what their needs might be in terms of shopping, access and aesthetics.
The Mayor and Commission will have to approve the Planning Commission's recommendation before Selig gets its permit. To view the plan, click here.