Piles of metal and wood line a portion of Genelda Avenue near downtown Auburn as bulldozers raze old houses, condos and apartment buildings this week.
The structures are the first to be demolished to make way for a mixed-use development — referred to as 320 West Magnolia — which will feature purpose-built student housing and retail components as well as a parking deck.
Around the end of this month, Chick-fil-A and Domino's — which operate on lots that will be included in the development — will cease doing business out of their Magnolia Avenue locations.
"Chick-fil-A and Domino's will be operating for another couple of weeks, and then they will come down as well," said Andy Barfield, vice president of Holder Properties, the developer of 320 West Magnolia. "Construction will take about two years."
The plan is for Chick-fil-A to reopen its new-and-improved facility, which will be built into the project's ground floor and include a drive-thru designed to limit traffic back-up on Magnolia, sometime in the summer of 2021.
"They're going to come back into the development, which we're excited about," Barfield said. "And there will be approximately another 6,000 square feet of retail."
Barfield added that the plan right now is for some of that retail space to be occupied by a coffee shop. No other tenants are finalized at this time, but all spaces will have storefronts on Magnolia Avenue. Patrons of the commercial component will be able to find parking in a ground floor lot with entrances off Toomer and Thomas streets.
The development will include 201 residential units with 719 beds, and a separate resident-only vehicle entrance off Genelda Avenue will lead into the upper levels of the parking deck.
The project will take over almost a whole block in downtown, surrounded by Magnolia Avenue, Toomer Street, Genelda Avenue and Thomas Street. Eleven parcels were consolidated for this project, which will sit on about 3.4 acres and front Magnolia Avenue, between the existing Subway and an Auburn University parking lot.
Barfield said Holder Properties is close to finalizing the design of the building, and once design is complete, a rendering will be released to the public.
"We are very close," he said about the design plans. "We obviously had gotten some input from the (Downtown Design Review Committee), and we're working through that."
He added that he feels the design is different from other student-housing developments in town and that Holder Properties and the architects worked to create something visually interesting.
"We feel like we're a little different. We feel that it's not the same, large facade," he said. "We think there are a lot of ins and outs and that it'll be a beautiful project right there. We're excited about it."
A rendering that was shown to the Downtown Design Review Committee in July shows a high-ceilinged ground-floor with an exterior covered in a light cast stone. The stone will extend out to create a covered walkway in front of the retail entrances.
A courtyard will sit directly above the retail component and will house a swimming pool and outdoor space for students, bringing more energy to the front of the development. Two smaller courtyards will be built into the development on the west and east, with residential units surrounding them.
Because the courtyard will front the street, a segment of student housing will be set back from Magnolia Avenue. The five floors of student-housing units will be finished in brick veneer, with some stucco and prefinished aluminum.
He added that crews will maintain a clean construction site and signage will be used to keep the public informed throughout the process.