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Athens to spend $2.7M to revitalize Pilgrim's Pride property

The money is going to be split into several different areas to entice developers to build on the land where the vacant plant sits.

Posted: Jan 24, 2018 10:03 PM
Updated: Jan 24, 2018 10:37 PM

The City of Athens is set to sign paperwork Thursday finalizing buying the former Pilgrims Pride plant along Pryor Street.

This follows years of work by the city to buy the land and develop it.

Athens will spend a total of $2.7 million dollars on this project. $1.2 million will be spent to buy the land and mitigate the asbestos in the current building. $1.5 million will go to develop infrastructure around the land to entice developers to build on it.

WAAY 31 spoke to a woman who lives just down the road from the former plant.

Joanna Martin told us she's waited a long time for the city to do something with this land. She also said living next to the old Pilgrims Pride plant was not pleasant.

"It was horrible. It was a nightmare. Beep beep beep all night long with the trucks backing up," said Martin.

After the plant shut its doors in 2009, "it's an eye sore," said Martin.

The City of Athens told WAAY 31 that is one reason they're going forward with spending $2.7 million on this project.

To get rid of the eye sore and improve the quality of life for the surrounding area by developing the land.

Seven of the nearly 32 acres will be made into a park.

"I am so excited. I'll have a place to walk my puppy," said Martin.

Five acres will remain undeveloped to be used as a floodplain.

That leaves 15 acres for developers to come in and build.

Athens has created its first ever TIF district to help cover the $2.7 million price tag down the road.

Basically, any increase in property values caused by the development, which leads to more property tax revenues, will be taken by the city to repay the initial investments they plan to make.

"Whatever it takes. I'm happy," said Joanna Martin.

The city will finalize the financial plan for this project in February or March.

In that plan they'll outline how exactly they'll pay for this development. 

Another component of this project is possible development in an adjacent lot. Athens City Schools owns 53 acres of land that sits between the new high school and the old plant.

The City of Athens told WAAY 31 developers are waiting on the city to make the move to get rid of the of the old plant before they decide to build on the land.

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