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The Varsity was established in Athens in 1932 and is a popular spot for food on game days. (Photo/Tony Walsh)

The block of Athens containing The Varsity could get a makeover if a proposed plan is approved by the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission in February.

The plan, which was approved by the ACC Planning Commission in December, opens the area bordered by Milledge Avenue, Broad Street, Chase Street and Reese Street to zoning changes. This plan comes after the property owners spent months positioning the area for redevelopment.

The plan was submitted by the Gordy Family, which owns The Varsity restaurants, and will be voted on by the Mayor and Commission at its meeting Feb. 5.

No specific development plans for the area have been submitted, according to an ACC zoning report, so it is unknown how the area would be redeveloped. The proposed plan limits the maximum height of new development but increases the maximum number of bedrooms allowed per acre from 24 to 50. The plan was presented to the ACC Mayor and Commission at a Jan. 15 agenda setting session.

The property in question is located in District 3, which is represented by Commissioner Melissa Link. At the agenda setting session, Link praised the plan and said it would “mitigate the impacts of the commercial development on the existing neighborhood."

The block is not only home to The Varsity but also a number of historic homes, especially along Reese Street. The Gordy Family applied for demolition permits in 2017 for many of the historic homes on the property, but it is unknown if the new zoning will affect those plans.

No citizens commented on the plan after it was presented, but Mayor Kelly Girtz showed support for the idea, thanking the Gordy Family, commissioners and planning committee for working to craft the plan.

"I think this is a win for everyone,” Girtz said.

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