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Mixed-used development proposed for General Time buildings

Cyclists and hikers on the North Oconee River Greenway could stop off for a cold brew and some music if a proposed Newton Bridge Road development comes to fruition.

The mixed-use concept would transform the empty Westclox/General Time buildings on Newton Bridge Road just outside the Athens Perimeter into a mixed-use development including 100 apartments; a 3,000-seat amphitheater; along with retail, warehouse and restaurant spaces.

Developers are asking Athens-Clarke County officials to change the site’s zoning status from industrial for the mixed-use development.

Their request to transform the brownfield site — the old clock factory is listed on Georgia’s Hazardous Site Index — is on the Athens-Clarke County Planning Commission agenda for its May meeting; but to gather information, not a decision.

Plans filed with the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department for the project call for a trail head within the property and a link leading to the North Oconee River Greenway and Sandy Creek Nature Center property.

Called “General Time,” the project is “a true live/work mixed-use and entertainment development,” according to documents.

The factory building near the end of Chase Street at Newton Bridge Road dates from 1954, when Westclox moved a factory unit from Australia to Athens, with an addition in the 1990s. The factory closed in 2000, noted documents.

The development team includes Michael Dinerman of Atlanta and Jennifer Davidson of Athens, both with Knotting Development, and The Ardent Companies, described in the submitted documents as a privately held real estate investment and asset management firm.

Other companies involved would be Terrapin Beer, now owned by Coors, which now has a facility on the opposite side of Newton Bridge Road. General Time plans include 60,000 square feet of warehouse and packaging space for the brewing company.

The project would also bring in Red Light management, a company founded in 1991 in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is now the largest independent music company in the world, according to the plan documents.

The amphitheater would be oriented to carry sound away from the nature center and the greenway and toward the Athens Perimeter during 18 to 20 outdoor events per year, according to conceptual plans.

The proposed apartments include flats and lofts, 56 with two bedroom and 44 with one, “for emerging professional and work-force residents,” noted the plans.

Plans also call for restaurant seating for 350 people, including a rooftop restaurant developed as a brewery tasting room, a farmer’s market, and 40,000 square feet for retail businesses, including a grocery, music shops, and a maker space.