By Tyree Brown
City Hall in downtown Athens
Athens Clark County is becoming one of the nation’s fastest growing populations according to the latest census report. With each year, more and more students enter The University of Georgia campus, adding to an already thriving Athens community.
Students on campus felt the effects of the growing population early after receiving news that freshman dorm, Russel Hall, will be undergoing renovations during the fall 2017 semester. With over 5800 freshmen accepted this year, UGA has taken a number of precautions to ensure that students will have a place to stay.
UGA has required that all first-year students to live on campus since fall 2004.With the closing of Russel Hall, the university had to work fast to accommodate the 5,839 new students.
Third year Orientation Leader Natalie learned first hand of UGA’s on-campus population control plans.
Morean spent the past summer in Athens as an orientation leader, preparing incoming students for their new life as a Bulldog. She noticed that her group included more students than when she was a freshman. But even more surprising was the email Morean received in last spring.
“I was shocked that the university was offering me money to move off campus,” Morean said. “But the more I thought about, I figured it was not a bad option.”
Two options were provided for upper-classmen students already living on campus. The first option consisted of a $3,500 discount to move to Brown Hall, located on the university’s Health Science Campus 15 minutes from the main campus. Option two also offered $3,500 buyout for students to move off campus, consequently disqualifying them from campus housing for the upcoming year.
Off campus apartments are also noticing the increase in Athens residents. Student buyouts from the university have sent a flood of students to near-by apartment complexes. Students aren’t the only ones searching for new places to live. Families have also made their way to a thriving Athens community.
Chris Bozman is the Assistant Property Manager of Fred’s Historic Properties, the largest provider of downtown Athens living space.
“We get a lot of people that are coming in looking for 2 bedrooms,”. “especially families which is unusual for downtown.”
The Athens community has made large strides in previous years to accommodate the demand of living in Athens. Since the Opening of The Standard in 2014, three more student living areas have emerged: The Uncommon in 2015, Georgia Heights in 2015, The Mark in 2017.
While good for the progression of Athens, not everyone is pleased with the over construction. Fourth Year Kayla Bear said she believes the number new apartment buildings are an eye sore. Likewise, Whistleberry Resident Christian Laurent has had enough of the increased numbers.
“There are just so many cars,” Laurent said. “I can’t even park in front of my apartment complex.” Laurent said.
With numbers continuing to grow each year, it’s safe to say that Athens is no longer just a college town, but a flourishing city.