Site work should begin soon on a $6 million project to build senior living apartments on the east side of Athens.

At its March 20 meeting, the Athens Planning Commission approved a master plan and a preliminary plat for the future Peyton Ridge Village, to be located north of U.S. 72 and east of Piney Creek. The apartments are to be built on 8 acres behind Classic Sign Works at 23615 U.S. 72.

Athens developer Bill Ming said the 56-unit, one-story development would be very similar to the French Farms Villas project built off Old Decatur Road, behind Zaxby's. Like that development, the units will be available to senior citizens only.

The project is being built by the Gateway Cos., which has offices in Florence and Birmingham. The company manages more than 100 apartment properties with more than 8,000 units throughout the Southeast, according to its website.

“It will be a real quality, first-class senior housing project,” Ming said, adding it would take eight to nine months to complete the apartments.

A new road leading to the future site of the apartments will first have to be cut, and Ming anticipated site work on the road would begin next week. Site work for the apartments should begin within the next 60 days, he said.

Currently, there is no water, sewer, natural gas or electricity available at the site, so running utilities will also be part of the first phase.

Ming said the addition of utilities would allow for an additional 30 acres to be developed, which could include more apartments and townhomes. Retail establishments may also be an option for six adjacent outparcels.

When asked what made this site attractive, Ming said the market favors more senior living options on the east side of the city.

“A feasibility study showed housing for seniors is underserved,” he said. “You have some senior living on the west side of town, and the project was built two years ago behind Zaxby's. The market told (the developers) they needed one on the east side because that's where one of the major growth areas is.”

For more on the Gateway Cos., visit www.thegatewaycompanies.com.

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