In a statement released at the end of the day on Friday, Mayor Kelly Girtz announced that the unified government intends to redevelop Bethel Homes with the Athens Housing Authority in a public-private partnership.
Bethel Homes, located next to Hotel Indigo in downtown Athens, is almost 60 years old and conditions there have been deteriorating. “The current Bethel Village contains very aged and underperforming housing and is very much in need of renovation” says an MOU* between the local government and the Athens Housing Authority.
This project, now called the “North Athens Project,” is contingent upon the passage of SPLOST 2020, a 1% sales tax, in a referendum scheduled for November 5. SPLOST would provide $44 million earmarked for affordable housing projects, $39 million of which would go towards the government-owned portion of the North Athens Project. The $39 million will be leveraged through the Athens Housing Authority to create a $300 million dollar project in total, with Jonathan Rose Companies as the private development partner.
This project would proceed on similar lines as the Columbia-Brookside redevelopment, with the new units being primarily mixed-income rental units. Unlike at Columbia-Brookside, Mayor Girtz has stated that the number of affordable units would increase in Bethel Homes after redevelopment. Furthermore, Mayor Girtz stated that “the property is under a HUD Land Use Restriction, so everyone there will receive full right of return… with any transition expenses at no cost to residents.”
The mayor and commission will consider approving the MOU to indicate their intent to redevelop Bethel Homes at their voting meeting on Tuesday, October 1.
*MOU stands for “memorandum of understanding.”
The North Athens Project MOU was approved by the commission at their voting meeting on Tuesday, October 1. The MOU was signed by Valdon Daniels of the Housing Authority and Mayor Girtz on Wednesday, October 2 at a joint meeting.