If things go as planned, the downtown shopping and dining mix along Clayton Street could be extended further west. Developers want to build an extensive retail and residential complex on what is now a surface parking lot at Clayton, Broad and Hull streets.
Represented by David Dwyer, managing director of Athens-based Atlas Real Estate Advisors, Chicago-based GEM Realty Capitol has applied for a certificate of appropriateness with Athens Clarke County. At least part of the property is in the downtown historic district, so the Historic Preservation Commission needs to okay the plans.
"Once we have that approval, things can get underway," said Dwyer, who says the project should be completed by 2015.
Just what is the project? A few buildings, some as tall as six stories, with retail on the street level and residential above. There won't be a monolith running from the bank building all the way to Hull. Instead, there will be different buildings in "a stepdown" pattern, integrated into the grid of downtown, Dwyer said.
Four or more stories might sound tall, but the buildings will be in scale with the surrounding structures, Dwyer said. On the Clayton Street side, the new parking deck will rise above the apartments; on Broad Street, the buildings will be the same height as the Holiday Inn.
An addition from the 1980s on the original bank building will be removed, Dwyer said. Otherwise, the buildings fronting Lumpkin--including Little Italy, Emporium Beauty and The Globe--will remain untouched, as will the Georgia Bar on Clayton and the law office building at Clayton and Hull, aka, the Telephone Building.
Dwyer said he's trying to find tenants for the street level businesses, adding, "a grocery store would be an ideal tenant." Most of the residents will be parking in the Washington Street parking deck.
When the project is finished, it will represent an investment of $40 to $50 million.