To map this site, we assessed the surrounding neighborhood and identified amenities that were present. The task was broad due to the potential uses of the development and the potential of those uses to complement or overlap neighborhood functions. Most of the discussion was about mixed-use potential, so we focused on a variety of aspects including connectivity, food and recreational options, institutional uses and site constraints. A big part of the community discussion was driven by residents of the Boulevard neighborhood district and how the new development could serve their needs. This brought about a possible direct pedestrian connection to the neighborhood via Hiawassee Street and led us to include that option in all of our mapping analyses.
Clicking thumbnails will open full size PDF of map.
Connectivity– Our connectivity map shows potential in a variety of areas. The site is tucked into an industrial district that is sandwiched between a pedestrian friendly neighborhood and the Athens Perimeter Road. The site is also close to a burgeoning warehouse rehabilitation project composed of residences and businesses in one structure. Potential connections to the Boulevard neighborhood would tie this project into an active community and bolster the area’s existing vibrant atmosphere.
In terms of transportation, the property is in close proximity to the Athens perimeter and to Prince Avenue, both of which are major thoroughfares for Athens providing a firm foundation for car use. A bus line is currently active along Chase Street and includes a stop within a few minutes of the site location. There is a potential link to sidewalks, which are prevalent in the Boulevard neighborhood, and to bike lanes that could connect to Prince Avenue.
Site constraints– This project has a few site constraints that would benefit from being addressed. There is a small stream running through the western portion of the site that carries a 75 ft. buffer and eliminates expanding development on the site in that direction. There is also an existing stand of trees in that area and in the northern portion of the site that brings the development close to a 40% threshold that is likely mandatory with a mixed-use project. In terms of slope, the site gently descends from a high area in the northeast portion to the stream in the western corner. This slope could be used to the advantage of the future project, but will definitely impact how the site can be used.
The location also abuts a rail line that sees traffic 4 to 5 times a day. It would be nice to incorporate this feature, while also mitigating noise and danger. The rail line forms a hard boundary that thwarts connection to the Boulevard neighborhood and must be addressed if a connection to that community is desired. The industrial setting of the Southern Mill site will also require attention for the project to succeed in attracting residents or businesses.
Existing Walkabilty– The walking potential is currently very limited. In order to walk toward town, a pedestrian would have to walk down Chase Street and then into the Boulevard neighborhood. While that is not impossible, the lack of sidewalks on that portion of Chase Street would necessitate walking in the street, and it is a markedly longer route than a direct connection with the Boulevard neighborhood. The surrounding industrial nature of the area is also a concern that would benefit from better connections or a change to some adjoining uses.
Proposed Walkability– This map provides a connection from the site to Hiawassee Street in the Boulevard neighborhood. The connection would require breaking down the hard barrier that is the rail line by either going over or under it. This additional access point would put more restaurants, small groceries and convenience stores within a 1 mile walk of the site and act as a catalyst for interaction between the project and the residents of the Boulevard neighborhood.
Future Land Use– The current land use of this site was decided by the former developers’ attempt to create loft apartments in 2000 and will require a change to the PD to accommodate different uses. The Southern Mill site is neighbored on one side by heavy industry and by single family residences on the other, so that it occupies a liminal space with the potential to merge both uses. The success of the future project could depend in mitigating the imbalance between the project site, the surrounding properties and the Boulevard neighborhood.