ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Plans are moving forward for redevelopment of Athens’ former chicken plant.

Limestone County’s state legislators announced just shy of $27,000 in grants will be going toward a playground and splash pad on the Pryor Street side of the former Pilgrim’s Pride chicken plant. The plant sat at 1004 E Pryor Street, just east of Athens State University and Downtown Athens, and west of Athens High School and the Athens City Schools main administration offices.

The plant closed in 2009 and sat abandoned until the city acquired the property in 2018 for demolition and redevelopment. Demolition was completed in 2019.

Nearly $27,000 in grants have been award towards a park at the former Pilgrim's Pride chicken plant in Athens. From left to right: Councilwoman Dana Henry, Sen. Tim Melson, Sen. Arthur Orr, Mayor Ronnie Marks and Council President Chris Seibert. (Photo courtesy City of Athens)
Nearly $27,000 in grants have been award towards a park at the former Pilgrim’s Pride chicken plant in Athens. From left to right: Councilwoman Dana Henry, Sen. Tim Melson, Sen. Arthur Orr, Mayor Ronnie Marks and Council President Chris Seibert. (Photo courtesy City of Athens)

After acquiring the property, the City consulted with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which determined no site remediation was necessary beyond the removal of asbestos.

Residents shared plans for the site during community meetings. Suggestions for the future park included walking and biking trails, a splash pad, dog park, and amphitheater. The City greenlit the splash pad and a playground for Phase 1.

We appreciate our senators and representatives seeing the importance of turning 32 acres of an eyesore and safety concern that’s located in the middle of a neighborhood and near educational facilities into a park and residential/retail attraction.

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks

Phase 1, which will include a new entrance to the area, is estimated to cost between $950,000 and $1 million. In addition to seeking additional grants, the City stated a proposal is being planned for the nonprofit Dekko Foundation, based in Indiana, for part of the cost.

Legislators who presented grants included:

  • Sen. Tim Melson – $20,000
  • Sen. Tom Butler – $3,000
  • Sen. Arthur Orr – $2,967.50
  • Rep. Mac McCutcheon – $1,000

Rep. Danny Crawford, who lives in Athens, wasn’t at Monday’s presentation but told the City he will be presenting a grant at a later time.

In preparation for redevelopment, the City said preliminary, site work was being done on the property.