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our mission

The mission of the Watkinsville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is to serve as an advocate for economic growth and vitality while engaging community members and guests to come, connect, and create. You can see all DDA meeting agendas and minutes here.

See a map of the Watkinsville DDA Boundary Map.

Downtown Watkinsville Georgia
Downtown Watkinsville Georgia
Downtown Watkinsville Georgia

our vision

Downtown Watkinsville is a vibrant center for Oconee County, with a mixture of businesses, service, parks, residences, restaurants, and venues for the arts. A place where people can truly come, connect, and create.

See our purposes here.

Our Board

The Watkinsville Downtown Development Board is comprised of members of our downtown business community.

Cristi Donahue

Cristi Donahue serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Oconee State Bank, headquartered in Watkinsville, Georgia. Cristi is passionate about community service and often references Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.”  Her biggest blessings are being a wife to her husband, Jeff, and a mom to her children, Zach, Emma, and Camden.

Christine Tucker

Since January 2017, Christine has served the community as a member of the Watkinsville City Council & is on the economic development committee. Christine has been helping clients buy and sell their homes for over ten years as a licensed Realtor® and has her own brokerage, C. Tucker & Co. in downtown Watkinsville. Christine is excited to chair the DDA and help the city of Watkinsville continue to be a thriving community.

Mellony Adkins

Mellony Adkins grew up in Watkinsville and is the proud owner of Chops & Hops today. Beyond the restaurant, Mellony serves as the Director of Youth Leadership for Georgia Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America, contributing to the growth and development of future leaders. 
Mellony is married to Stephen, and they navigate the beautiful journey of blended family life with stepson Brayden and their pup, Scraps.

Robert Griffith

Robert Griffith, a native of Oconee County, is the President and Owner of Golden Pantry Food Stores. Robert earned experience at Coca-Cola Enterprises and Jones & Frank in Charlotte, NC, before starting at Golden Patry Food Stores. Robert is a family man at heart, cherishing moments spent with his wife Meg, their six-year-old son Ben, and three-year-old daughter Maggie. Robert's deep-rooted connection to his hometown and his passion for family, church, and outdoor activities form the cornerstone of his personal and professional life.

Dan Elder

Dan has lived in Oconee County his entire life. He has been happily married to Ellen for 20 years, and they have two children, Daniel (18) and Allie (15). Dan is President of Oconee Well Drillers and North Georgia Water Systems, both headquartered in Watkinsville.  He also owns and manages several rental properties in Downtown Watkinsville.  Dan enjoys outdoor activities, including water sports, golf, snow skiing, fishing, and hiking

  He and his family attend Ashford Memorial Methodist Church.

Brock Toole

Brock has been married to his college sweetheart Christie for 22 years and is the proud dad of Chloe, 15, Sophie, 13, & Dylan, 9. Brock worked for NAVIERAS, de Puerto Rico, after graduating from the real GSU (Georgia Southern) in 1997. He worked for Walmart & Oconee County Schools prior to becoming an entrepreneur with Satisfied Food Co. and South Main Brewing. He serves on numerous boards around our community and attends Watkinsville First Baptist church.  He loves Georgia and Georgia Southern Football.

Paul Lancaster

Paul moved to Athens in the summer of 1987 and is a Double Dawg, having received his bachelor’s degree in Real Estate and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Georgia. Paul opened his firm, Farmhouse Law, shortly after obtaining his JD degree and has been practicing real estate law for nearly thirty years. Paul is happiest when spending time with his family, moderating real estate transactions, and taking part in active negotiations.  Paul also enjoys solitude on his tractor, traveling, and trivia.

Kate Patterson


Learn more about the Watkinsville Downtown Development Authority

Downtown Watkinsville is a Main Street Georgia Community

Georgia's Main Street Communities are dedicated to leading the state in historic preservation, small business development, expansion of the state’s employment base, leveraging private investment, increasing tourism, and providing a positive road map for public-private partnerships. 

In 1802, Watkinsville, originally known as the “Big Springs” community, was named after Colonel Robert Watkins of Augusta, a lawyer and early compiler of “A Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia” through 1799. Watkinsville was a small village located on the western frontier of the new United States between the Creek and Cherokee territories. Eagle Tavern, believed to stand on the site of the old Fort Edward, opened in 1801 and today serves as a museum commemorating the era of wagon and stagecoach travel. 

Watkinsville first appeared in Clarke County records in 1791, only 58 years after James Edward Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia.  In 1802, John Cobb gave up 8 lots of his plantation to create the city. It then became the county seat for Clarke County and remained so until 1872, when Athens took over that role. The locals were not happy and voted to create a new county, named after the Oconee River on its eastern border, and Watkinsville became its seat on February 25, 1875.

Until the late 1970s, Oconee County remained primarily an agricultural county. In the 70s and 80s, the county soon became known as a bedroom community of Athens. During the years and positive economic conditions that followed, the population of Oconee County increased dramatically. With this increase came the demand for shopping centers and all the associated amenities that soon followed a growing population. Downtown Watkinsville was primarily a traditional, though historic, downtown business area. In the early 1990s, downtown Watkinsville began to redefine itself.  With the success of the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (located on School Street), the influx of local artists to the area, and the opening of two fine restaurants, the City started to see its true potential.

Today, the downtown area is marked by growing businesses, a variety of art galleries, small parks, and local eateries. The downtown area is lined with sidewalks and friendly for walking. There is ample free parking, the county courthouse, and other amenities for locals and visitors to enjoy. 

history of watkinsville

Kate Patterson

Kate Patterson

Downtown Development Director

Patterson is an experienced organizational executive and non-profit leader, has real estate experience, and, most importantly, a heart for service and small towns.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside the Watkinsville Downtown Development Authority to preserve the historic treasures in downtown Watkinsville, as well as revitalize others and promote the city of Watkinsville to become a destination for shopping and dining,” said Patterson. “As the county seat of Oconee, Watkinsville can indeed be a hub for folks near and far to come, connect and create.”

Patterson is a Governor’s appointee to the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Committee, has served on several boards in the county, is involved in volunteer capacities with Oconee County Schools, and serves at her church, Oconee Fellowship. She and her husband, Alex, are also deeply involved in Leadership Georgia, having been class members in 2011 and program chairs in 2015, allowing her to visit many Georgia communities and learn valuable lessons from those experiences.

Prior to relocating to Watkinsville, Patterson had experience as the director of the First Methodist Preschool in Valdosta, GA. Earlier in her career, she worked for Athens Classic Properties. Patterson has a degree in marketing from UGA’s Terry College of Business. She and her family reside in South Oconee County.

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