North Downtown Athens Planning Study Recognized As Best-In-Category For Outstanding Public Involvement

November 8, 2023

North Downtown Athens Redevelopment Partners and JHP Architecture/Urban Design Celebrate Georgia Planning Association Award For North Downtown Athens Planning Study. Project Recognized As Best-In-Category For Outstanding Public Involvement.

ATHENS, GA – This week, the North Downtown Athens Redevelopment, a project being developed by Columbia Residential, Jonathan Rose Companies, and the Athens Housing Authority in partnership with JHP Architecture/Urban Design, was honored during the Athens-Clarke County Mayor & Commission Regular Session. The project was recently designated as the 2023 winner in the Outstanding Public Involvement category by the Georgia Planning Association during their annual Fall Chapter Awards event. The North Downtown Athens Master Planning Study was chosen as the category winner for “involving the general public in a planning activity above and beyond the minimum state or local requirements, and where that involvement contributes greatly to the final product.”

Project Overview
The North Downtown Athens Redevelopment is a public-private partnership between the Athens Housing Authority, Athens-Clarke County Unified Government, and developers specializing in affordable and mixed-income housing. A team of design, technical assistance, and master planning consultants supports the project.

The redevelopment of Bethel Midtown Village and surrounding areas will create a vibrant residential community at the Northern edge of Downtown Athens, Georgia. Support from the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government SPLOST 2020 funding will enable the redevelopment to preserve deeply affordable housing, expand workforce affordable and market-rate housing downtown, create new city blocks, and connect the community to transportation, public green spaces, and the activity of downtown Athens.

The Redevelopment Plan was designed based on a year of community outreach with Bethel and College & Hoyt residents, North Downtown stakeholders, local leaders, and the broader Athens community.

“The Athens Housing Authority is appreciative of the ‘vote’ of confidence from the community and Athens-Clarke County Unified Government as shown in the provision of the significant SPLOST funds that served as the catalyst for this, the community’s plan,” said Connie Staudinger, CEO.

“We believe involving residents and other stakeholders in the master planning process is essential to creating a community that truly represents their needs and desires. We are grateful to our partners, JHP Architecture/Urban Design, the Athens Housing Authority, and Jonathan Rose Companies, who went above and beyond to capture the voice of the community in the master plan,” said Carmen Chubb, president of Columbia Residential.

According to JHP Architecture/Urban Design Director of Urban Design & Planning, Brian Keith, the North Downtown Athens Planning Study has been a significant undertaking, given that it was initiated just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The challenge for the project became maintaining community engagement and gathering public input, all while prioritizing health and safety,” Brian explained. “JHP and the project team built out a website to serve as the primary engagement portal and paired it with innovative online charrettes, surveys, and other pioneering outreach methods. These initiatives cohesively engaged the community throughout the design process until a safe return of in-person meetings was feasible.”

Construction and leasing for Phase 1 of the project are expected to be completed in mid to late 2025. For development updates and more information on the North Downtown Athens Redevelopment, visit

About Athens Housing Authority
Athens Housing Authority is the public housing provider for Athens-Clarke County Unified Government. Its mission is to provide secure, affordable, quality housing and resources, which encourage and sustain independence for wage earners, the elderly, and families.

About Columbia Residential
Founded in 1991 by the late Noel Khalil, Columbia Residential is an award-winning Atlanta-based developer, owner, and manager of affordable and mixed-income housing. Having just celebrated its 32nd anniversary, the company manages just over 10,000 affordable and mixed-income housing apartments in Georgia, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. Columbia Residential also maintains an active development pipeline, building, preserving, and delivering high-quality, sustainable developments. In 2023, this includes completion of four (4) new or renovated communities totaling over 511 apartment homes, and two (2) new communities starting construction by the end of the year totaling 211 apartment homes. Columbia Residential makes a lasting commitment to each community it plans, builds, and manages by providing a continuum of stewardship that powers long-term investments. The company’s unique approach to property management includes an innovative model for resident services, including comprehensive on-site programming along with additional resources provided through strategic partnerships with local entities that foster a strong home life and growth mindset for every resident.

About JHP Architecture/Urban Design
At JHP, we view ourselves as more than architects of buildings. Instead, we are architects of place and community, and we use both architectural design and Urban Design to create those places, to achieve this greater goal. It’s critical that we think about the impact the buildings we design will have on the neighborhood around them, and, on a larger scale, their impact on the city as a whole. By considering the context—both physical and cultural—of any new development, we are able to weave into the existing community rather than create a tear or patch. This means that each project’s urban design variables, such as building and construction type, block and site dimensions, density, parking strategies, cost, and more, are balanced and adjusted for the surrounding environment. In doing this we build a sense of place, and the collection of these places leads to great neighborhoods and cities with a sense of community.


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