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Commissioners set to vote on $5.1 million for north downtown project

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Plans for the North Athens Downtown Development Project

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are set to vote tomorrow on a rescue plan for the North Athens Downtown Development Project.

The project is supposed to be a major tool in fixing the city’s affordable housing problem, but skyrocketing construction costs have driven the plan more than 10 million dollars over budget. Project administrators told lawmakers last month that the cost of materials like steel, windows, and wiring have soared beyond what was predicted.

Developers working on the project have found millions in cost cutting measures, and there’s up to $4 million in funding that could be available from the state Department of Community Affairs. But, even with those fixes in place, the project faces a $5.1 million shortfall.

At a work session last week, Mayor Kelly Girtz proposed taking $1.3 million from affordable housing funds in SPLOST, and an additional $3.4 million from two different sources of federal COVID-19 relief money. While some commissioners had questions about the strategy, they seemed broadly supportive of the idea, which is set for a vote at a special session on Tuesday.

Martin Matheny was promoted to Program Director and Content Strategist on July 1, 2022. He has served as the Executive Producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters', and he covers local government for WUGA News. He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on WUGA at 10pm. 'Night Music' can also be heard statewide on the GPB Classical stream Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm. As part of 'Athens News Matters' Martin works with student interns to help cultivate the next generation of Public Media rock stars! In his spare time Martin is an amateur book binder and freelance musician who frequently performs with Big Band Athens playing bass trombone. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.
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