Campus News

UGA buys Thornton Brothers building; site will be restored to its ‘more natural’ setting

Thornton Brothers Paper Co., which has built a new facility on Olympic Place in Athens, last month sold to the UGA Real ­Estate Foundation the property it has vacated adjacent to North Campus. The university will redevelop the area, which is believed to be the original site of the university and Athens.

Jo Ann Chitty, president of the Real Estate Foundation, emphasized that the property will remain on the local tax digest, as do most parcels owned by the foundation.

The site contains a spring and a creek-capped by buildings for decades-believed to have been key in the decision to locate the university and the city nearby.

“Our intention is to ‘daylight’ the spring and creek and restore the immediate area to its more natural setting,” says Henry M. Huckaby, senior vice president for finance and administration. The campus master plan projects the “northeast precinct” will extend the ambience of the existing North Campus quadrangle eastward, with additional offices and classroom buildings around a new quadrangle. Until those plans are ready to move forward, the site will be used for parking.

The 22,000-square-foot building, which occupies six-tenths of an acre at 130 Fulton Street, sold for $580,000. It is bounded on three sides by UGA facilities, including the North Campus parking deck, the Central Duplicating plant and the Business Services building.

The consulting firm of Surber Barber, experts in historic preservation, has confirmed that removing the building is the most appropriate action, given the building’s condition and the historic nature of the spring and creek, and that the site is ripe for redevelopment, Huckaby says.

“The economic activity generated by UGA construction projects is well­-known,” says C. Patrick Allen, director of community relations, citing as an example the recently ­completed Complex Carbohydrate ­Research Center. That project spent $4.5 million with local suppliers and subcontractors and will create 150 new jobs for the community.

Allen, who is chair of the Athens-Clarke Economic Development Foundation, to which UGA pays $25,000 a year in membership dues, says, “I believe that part of the solution to our tax base is to develop more business and more industry that will pay taxes and hire people who will buy houses and pay taxes.”