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- Expanding the diversity of our downtown can be achieved through public/private partnerships, use of a focused Tax Allocation District, and redevelopment of aging segments of the downtown grid. In these efforts, we should seek a variety of activity and residential opportunity that creates spaces for those in need of affordable housing, retirees, and professionals. Attracting a broad range of residents will encourage a more diverse retail environment, in which goods and services become more widely available. Groceries, family attractions, and an innovation cluster are all components that we should encourage.
- Examining the large projects built downtown in recent years, it is clear that there are additional design updates that should be in our code. The existing core of downtown developed via a slow series of parcel-by-parcel transitions that led to our current downtown fabric, while some of the newer projects seem bland and monolithic by comparison. We need to ask critical questions: whether a greater variety of texture is necessary, whether block lengths should be more tightly managed, whether there should be an overall size limitation on individual uses, and whether there should be less uniformity in height for individual parcels of a certain size.
- An innovation cluster could provide the “bridge” for research activities that springboard from the University of Georgia campus, for bioscience work that has a foothold here already, for shared professional-class culinary arts activity, and for creative class space. Acres of space near the North Oconee River stretching between East Broad Street and College Avenue would be ideal for this shot of new life for the center of Athens.
- At the same time, taking opportunity to expand greenspace in the core of downtown will allow for an area more inviting to all. We should work with the Federal General Services Administration to create a large park area between the Federal Building and Athens Welcome Center from what is currently surface parking. This could serve as a public festival space, as well as general-use greenspace.