Officials with Sweet Auburn's storied Big Bethel AME Church — think giant "Jesus Saves" sign — have announced their intentions to resurrect plans to bring a major mixed-use development to the heart of the neighborhood. According to the AJC, developers the Benoit Group and Russell New Urban Development have been selected in what is the second-coming of the decade-old proposal. The latest plans are broken into three phases of implementation, focusing first on (1) rehabbing an existing residential tower and then (2) new housing for students, many presumably from nearby Georgia State University, and finally (3) the reconditioning of existing commercial space and the church itself. The plans have gathered dust for the last year, but a memorandum of understanding between the church and the developers signals that something may soon be happening.
[Plans produced for the project in 2014. Image by TSW Design.]
The project would kick off with the renovation of the 182-unit Bethel Tower — built back in 1971 — with the replacement of telecom systems and appliances in every unit. But with the promise of a year's notice for residents of Bethel Tower, there's no telling when the work will actually start.
Following the first phase, plans call for the construction of an 800-space parking deck to serve a 1,000-bed residential development aimed at attracting students. As with every other mixed-use development in the city, the 321 units will sit atop ground-floor retail space. Finally, the third phase is supposed to include the renovation of 12,500 square feet of existing commercial space as well as the refurbishment of the church building, which dates back to 1922.
Given the history of this proposal and the timeline of other urban renewal projects, it could be a miracle to see the development complete by the church's centennial.
· Big Bethel plans multi-use project for Auburn Avenue [AJC]
· On Auburn Ave., Plans Continue for Real Estate Rebound [Curbed Atlanta]