News Conference Article
Housing and retail renovation will become the future of west Athens if a proposed plan for redevelopment of the Georgia Square Mall is approved.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission will come together on March 7 to vote on the proposed Georgia Square Mall redevelopment plan that, if passed, would rejuvenate the area and bring a new era of retail shopping and consumerism to the city.
Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz held a press conference on Friday to share his proposals for renovating and revitalizing the Atlanta Highway Georgia Square Mall property, a plan that he hopes will “create a magnetic new environment” in the western part of the city. The plan proposes to transform the run-down mall into a mixed-use community with affordable housing developments, walking trails, transit stations and improved shopping centers.
The mall, built in 1981, lies on approximately 75 acres of land about eight miles to the west of Downtown Athens. According to the Georgia Square Mall Redevelopment TAD Funding Application, 65% of the mall sits vacant as of November 2022 with 895,000 square feet of rentable building space available.
“I don't want to have my name attached to a gravel pit on Atlanta Highway,” Girtz proclaimed in reference to the dilapidated mall. If the commission decides to approve the redevelopment plan, a tax allocation district funding request of approximately $141 million will be granted, alongside the initial investment of $333 million from the Athens Development Group, the party responsible for the development.
The plan seeks to create 1,188 residential units, including townhomes, active adult units and multi-familial units, as well as 352,000 square feet of commercial space. The building will be implemented in three separate phases, with completion planned for 2027.
Of the homes, Girtz says “a family who earned about $45,000 a year would be able to afford one”. The housing is expected to be set at 80% of the current median rent price and potential residents will be met with screening to ensure their yearly income meets requirements.
“People are looking for these mixed use spaces. And also spaces where after you're done with your shopping experience, you can roll around the corner of your apartment on your feet,” Girtz exclaimed. He emphasized that the renovation of the mall is going to create a new West Side town center environment that will stand the test of time.