A developer with a vision to convert the old Quality Inn on State Highway 31 East to efficiency apartments came before the Athens City Council on Monday, seeking a zoning change.
The agenda item was the first reading of a request from Profectus Multifamily Capital of Dallas to change the zoning from commercial to Planned Development.
“We think it’s an amazing opportunity, both for the city and us,” Managing Partner Paul Yazbeck said.
The hilltop site is similar to a property they currently own in Copperas Cove, which has been a successful project, Yazbeck said.
He said more apartments are needed in Athens which is in need of places to live. Vacancies are currently less than 2%.
“All of your buildings, even the ones that aren’t very will maintained, are pretty much full,” Yazbeck said. “There is just no place for people to go, who are in need of apartments in that sub-$1,000 range.
There are also, no planned developments for housing in that price range in the near future.
“In the construction phase, we’ll be spending a lot of money to turn this thing around,” Yazbeck said. “It’ll be in seven figures.”
The building which sits on a hilltop near the northeast edge of Athens has been closed for more than 10 years. At one time the 11 acre property was home to a hotel, a popular restaurant and a night club.
The average size of the units would be 288 square feet. The building code specifies that the minimum square footage for an efficiency apartments 220 square feet. In Athens, the Lakeridge Apartments on Flat Creek Road are existing efficiency apartments.
Managing Partner Adriana Yazbeck said the goal s is not to buy the property to flip it, but improve it and keep it long-range. Phase 2 would be to open a restaurant and a coffee shop.
Paul Yazbeck said they plan to lease the apartments for one year. Council members favored they be leased for a year, rather than rented monthly, to help prevent a transient element among the residents.
During a public hearing on the proposed zoning change, several speakers from the audience said they were concerned about the size of the units.
Yazbeck said, if the zoning change is approved, they will make a final decision on whether to purchase the property on April 27. If that is positive, they could close on the property in late May.