Friday, November 6, 2009
Here in Athens, Georgia we didn't have a local election on Tuesday, but there is some interesting downtown development news. The Athens-Clarke Commssion (we're a consolidated city/county) just voted to construct a new parking deck downtown, over the last minute objections of some Athens residents that the deck is too big and not needed. However, there is a waiting list for the other parking deck downtown. Also, the Commission must spend the money, as it has already been allocated by referendum as part of our Special Local Option Sales Tax. Also, the site currently houses a parking lot, so the aesthetic arguments didn't carry much weight with the commission.
This particular intersection is also of interest because it is the home of the historic Georgia Theater - at least, the shell of the Georgia Theater, much of which was destroyed by a fire earlier this year. The rebuilt theater will be part of the mixed-use complex that will be built as part of the parking deck. The theater is a much beloved landmark here in Athens, which has a vibrant local music scene. Since it was built in 1889 the theater has been a YMCA, a Masonic lodge, a church, and a music venue hosting 100s of bands, including R.E.M., The Police and the B-52s. The theater owner had just renovated the entire theater prior to the fire, and his casulty insurance won't cover the whole loss. Therefore the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has agreed to help the theater raise $1.5 million for restoration. If you donate $100 your name goes on a brick in the new space - a cool way to be part of history remade.
Jamie Baker Roskie