Retreat on Milledge

A car is seen parked in a non-designated spot on the street in the Retreat on Milledge housing complex due to a shortage of parking spaces for residents on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Photo/Sydney Fordice, sydneyfordice@gmail.com)

Residents at The Retreat on Milledge are upset with the lack of provided parking, constant blocking-in of cars and insufficient answers from management.

“There’s not even enough spots for the residents to park their own cars,” Chloe Henderson, a resident of The Retreat on Milledge, said. 

Henderson also said guests are no longer allowed to park inside of the complex, and she feels this is a huge safety concern.

“If my sister were to come and see me, I wouldn’t want her to park her car on the street and walk all the way to the back of The Retreat,” Henderson said. 

Gabe Hanes, another resident, said he struggles to find parking near his home, and has to park across the neighborhood and walk. He said this isn’t necessarily an issue for him, but feels that if he were a woman, he would feel uncomfortable walking that distance by himself in the dark. 

Kaleigh Smith, another resident, said once she experienced two cars blocking the entire street around midnight. She had to personally direct a line of about 20 cars, which she was also stuck in, to back all the way up to the front of The Retreat in order to exit. Smith said she believes the two cars didn’t move until noon the next day.

Landmark Properties Inc., who manages The Retreat on Milledge, also has developed or currently manages other properties in Athens including The Redland apartments, The Haven of Athens, The Mark Athens, Landmark Athens and The Standard at Athens, according to their website. 

“They did not allow us to build a parking spot for each bed,” Logan North, resident services manager at The Retreat on Milledge, said in an email sent to residents and shared with The Red & Black. “The county will not approve a 1:1 ratio for any apartment complex in Athens.”

Athens-Clarke County refutes this claim.

“This project was approved for 594 bedrooms and 615 parking spaces — which meets the 1-to-1 parking-to-bedroom ratio that you mentioned as being desired, and also provides 21 additional spaces,” Bruce Lonnee, the county assistant planning director, said in an email sent to residents and shared with The Red & Black. “In the future, please share this data with tenants and tenants’ families.”

“The Retreat on Milledge provides the maximum allowable number of surface parking spaces per the ACC Development Standards and also incorporates garage and on-street parking to provide a total of 615 spaces on site,” said Kelly Gray, director of public relations for Landmark Properties, Inc., in an email to The Red & Black.

Caleb Smathers, a member of the River Mill management team, said River Mill, another complex in Athens, does have a parking spot for every resident. 

Henderson, the Retreat resident, works in a small medical office where timeliness is very important. She has had days where she was preparing to go to work and her car was blocked in, once making her 30 minutes late to work on a surgery day.

According to the Athens-Clarke County code of ordinances, all units with two or more bedrooms are only required to have two spaces per unit.

The Retreat on Milledge has 594 bedrooms, with 64 buildings containing two three-bedroom units for a total of six bedrooms per building. These 64 buildings contain 384 of the 594 total bedrooms in the complex.

There are also 21 other buildings, each with two five-bedroom units for a total of 10 bedrooms per building. These 210 bedrooms make up the last of the 594 total bedrooms.

Although The Retreat on Milledge only needs 353 parking spaces to be up to county code, it was approved for 615 parking spaces. Of the 505 spaces proposed, 382 are standard parking spaces, 111 are compact parking spaces and 12 are handicap accessible, according to development plans shared with The Red & Black from Samantha Trust of the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department.

Trust said that there are an additional 110 spaces that The Retreat on Milledge was approved for, 84 garage spaces and 26 parallel spaces being used to make up the full 615 spots. 

“If they chose to, they could apply for a plan development to amend the existing site plan and add more parking spots if they continue to see it as an issue that they are unable to regulate,” Trust said. “It’s kind of a management issue at this point.”