Chris and Amanda Marholz spoke to the Rotary Club of Athens Thursday about a very unique gathering space they are creating in the middle of downtown Athens.
Common Area Market is two acres of prime downtown property. One acre will remain a green space while other areas are being prepared for events and the gathering. The unique project will proceed in phases, such as restoring the old gin and saddle room with phase two including building an entrepreneurs' container park, an affordable retail space.
Married 19 years, the two are both veterans and have four children. They said they moved to the area six years ago.
“We named it Common Area, it is a marine corps term, a space where everyone gathers,” Amanda said. “It is a place for people to gather and feel at home, while also having a space for entrepreneurs to be supported by the community.”
She said by using shipping containers, there is a lower startup cost and a smaller environmental footprint due to being able to stack and using materials that are already created essentially recycling. In addition the modern architecture next to the historic creates a neat unique space.
Eventually, they said they would they would like to have an amphitheater for larger acts.
In the next couple weeks CAM plans to introduce its first restaurant, Athens Burger Bar. It will serve craft beer, burgers that will be ground in-house with mostly local products celebrating Athens being 'birthplace of the hamburger.'
They said they hope to source from the Athens Farmers Market and other local resources for the businesses that grow in this space. The idea is to create a supportive environment for local businesses to be a strong network and support system to each other as well as community members.
CAM currently hosts food trucks every Friday evening with live music from 5 to 9 p.m. They also plan for concerts at least one Saturday a month, with plans for more often when possible.
In the next couple of weeks they will be open five days a week and let food trucks rotate. Hours will be posted on Facebook soon.
“We are starting to invite investors in order to advance the progress of the project more quickly,” Amanda said.
Investment packets are available upon request.