NewTown Macon using $5 million bond to help developers
NewTown Macon Director of Place Kris Hattaway says last month her organization began drawing from a $5 million county bond to help fund building renovations in downtown Macon.
The money is being loaned to developers that lack the necessary resources to complete renovations of apartments and lofts in several downtown buildings. So far the projects include 69 units being created in the Dannenburg Building on Third Street, 20 units above the Barefoot Tavern on Cherry Street, and 6 units on Cotton Avenue.
Hattaway says the recent revitalization is a stark contrast to the situation downtown Macon was in when her organization began sixteen years ago.
"There were a handful of people living downtown and one or two restaurants, and now we have over 500 loft apartments downtown and we have lots of businesses and restaurants," Hattaway said.
Hattaway says the increased population moving into the downtown area should draw more retailers and restaurants as well.
"This is a game changer for downtown and we're really excited about this cornerstone project," Hattaway said.
Main Street Macon Manager Mechele McKinley says while NewTown has been taking the lead on increasing livable spaces, her organization has been hard at work recruiting new businesses.
"I think it's going to really perk up business owners ears and they're going to be excited about being in a hot spot, being where all the new action is," McKinley said.
McKinley says two new restaurants, a hookah bar, and a retail shop are already moving into buildings downtown. She says a combination of tax breaks and the prospect of more people moving into the area has three to five more businesses chomping at the bit.
"I think it's only going to get better and better as we move forward," Mckinley said.
Hattaway says business owners in the area are already seeing increased traffic.
"We've had feedback from our businesses that they've seen an increase in business because of the residents that are moving into downtown and that they're also preparing for more residents that are coming," Hattaway said.
Hattaway says NewTown Macon wants to add 125 livable units to the downtown area int he next five years.