School board gives green light to mall development in close vote
Members of the Clarke County Board of Education moved ahead with their approval of the proposed Georgia Square Mall redevelopment at a special called meeting last night.
I understand that it looks pretty and it and it sounds pretty," Evans said. "But again, it feels like we are being rushed into something once again and to the point where we don't even have a full board here.Mark Evans
Only five of the Board’s nine members were in attendance, and some expressed concerns about the project. One of those was District 9’s Mark Evans.
"I understand that it looks pretty and it and it sounds pretty," Evans said. "But again, it feels like we are being rushed into something once again and to the point where we don't even have a full board here. I understand that we need to take a vote. I know that we need to move on, but there are just lots of things in here that just make me feel very uncomfortable, mostly the fact that for 30 years we're just kind of chained to this thing."
Tim Denson, who represents District 5, laid out a list of the project’s benefits.
"The affordable housing component at the 60% [area median income], the boys and Girls Club programming and and building there, the dedicated early learning center, public transit transfer station, green space, multi use trails, internships for CCSD students and the minority business supports - I mean that's a healthy list of some real benefits, I think, to this community," Denson said.
Denson, along with Mumbi Anderson and Linda Davis voted for the proposal. Board President LaKeisha Gantt, and District 9’s Evans voted against. Nearly half the board – Heidi Hensley, Claudia Butts, Patricia Yager, and Nicole Hull – did not attend the meeting.
The proposal now moves to the Athens-Clarke County Commission for final approval at its regular voting meeting tonight.
Developers say that the project will add over 1,000 new housing units, including affordable units tied to 60 percent of the area’s median income. Estimates vary on how many jobs the redevelopment might create, although the developer says the project will create hundreds and have an overall value of hundreds of millions of dollars.