Athens, Georgia has literally spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars over the decades making material improvements to and marketing its Downtown. This has been maybe the one consensus item in Athens decision making. Hell, they spent hundreds of thousands building a Greenway along the banks of the Oconee River through Downtown.
Now, the new mayor has thrown away any idea to positively develop those investments, and repeated denials earlier in the year, there are now plans to build a giant WalMart in Downtown Athens. It would back up to the river and greenway, and heaven knows what it will do to traffic on Hwy 78 (which was a constant state of gridlock when I was in undergrad 10 stinking years ago).
I know the space they're talking about. I used to play music right across the street. I know that land is currently underutilized, and could use some redevelopment.
But the kind of development needed there needs to match the scale of the university and the Downtown, as close as it is. This is an area where high-density and dynamic economy is needed, not another outlet to sell cheap plastic crap from China.
If you feel the same way I do, be sure to go and sign the petition. Even if, like me, you don't live there any more.