STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) — A Georgia Southern landmark will soon no longer be a part of the campus landscape in Statesboro.
Apartments are replacing University Plaza, which is just across the street from Georgia Southern’s campus on Chandler Road.
The plaza is filled with Georgia Southern history. It was even the birthplace of the first Zaxby’s.
Above all, many former students and Eagles fans remember this plaza as a gathering place, including Councilman Phil Boyum.
“If you ask somebody from the 80s or the 90s, back in the golden age of Erk Russell and Georgia, Southern football, they would say the plaza was central to their university experience,” Boyum says.
Philip Martinez is a 2018 graduate of GSU. He often visited places like Rude Rudy’s and Shenanigans in the plaza.
“I did think it was great how close it was to everything. Just with so many apartment complexes around, it was easy to walk to, and at least have a safe way home,” Martinez says.
While the proximity made for a safer commute after a night out, the plaza became known for something violent. Councilman Boyum says the plaza was not the same after the beating death of an 18-year-old at Rude Rudy’s in 2014.
“It wasn’t run by quality people, and unfortunately, the owner went bankrupt and eventually it sold,” Boyum says.
Martinez also remembers the incident.
“I definitely think by having them so close that it probably lured more people to want to go that maybe weren’t being smart or weren’t legally of age. I definitely think there are some things that could have been handled better,” Martinez says.
Boyum says, the apartment will be four to five stories and will have 600 beds. He also says it is great that these apartments will be within walking distance of campus which would bring a similar atmosphere and convenience to Statesboro that students find in Athens, Columbus, or Milledgeville.
“We’re always talking about trying to find ways for students to reduce traffic, and these types of things make it a more walkable community. Well, there’s nothing more walkable than living across the street,” Boyum says.
The complex is expected to be completed within 18 months to two years, according to Boyum.