Central City Commons has a problem with the Bibb zoning board


Downtown developers of the new hotel and apartments must produce parking plans and ownership agreements with the county

MACON, Ga. — Editor’s note: The video for this story is from a previous cover story.

Renovations to two historic buildings in downtown Macon have cleared the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission Monday, but the development of Central City Commons needs further consideration.

P&Z has approved the rezoning of 1.66 acres in the 300 block of Seventh Street from heavy industry to the central business district, which will allow the construction of 55 residential lofts.

Gary Bechtel of P&Z recused himself from the hearing because his employer, Bob Lewis & Associates, listed the property. Commission President Jeane Easom also revealed that she had appraised the property for the bank, but had no financial interest in the project.

Ryan Sanders of Hephaestus Development said the residential complex, which includes 148 Mulberry St., will feature a communal pool, fire pit, sports courts and a dog-walking area.

“We believe this investment in the central business district will continue to revitalize…and expand the city‘s footprint…and address the housing shortage as it currently exists,” Sanders told the commissioners.

The vacant buildings once housed the former Macon Grocery warehouse opposite Willingham Sash & Door Company. The red brick building at 311 Seventh St. has a marker designating its inclusion in the Macon Railroad Industrial Historic District of the National Register of Historic Places.

Central City Commons parking issues

P&Z commissioners want more information from Central City Commons developers before accepting a six-story, 230-unit building at Second and Plum streets and a new 152-room boutique hotel on Poplar Street.

The project has undergone several revisions over the past decade and commissioners have discussed ensuring developers have the proper agreements with Macon-Bibb County to take care of necessary driveways, secure land from other landowners for the development and enter into a parking agreement with condominium owners in the old telephone exchange building at Second and Poplar streets.

Several condo owners attended the meeting to express their concerns about the possibility of losing access to their private parking due to the configuration of the new buildings.

Michael Barber, who spoke on behalf of the homeowners association, said he first heard about the project while reading last week news from the Design Review Board’s rejection of the initial drawings.

“Right now I have exclusive parking,” Barber said. “To see him disappear without being approached is just disturbing.”

Easom and the rest of the board discussed those ownership issues at their business meeting ahead of Monday’s hearing.

“We understand that,” Easom told Barber. “We wouldn’t approve of anything that doesn’t have housing for you. … Your access won’t be impeded unless it’s something you’ve agreed with the developers.

Estate agent Tim Thornton, who has been working on the project with partner Miller Heath III for several years, said he currently controls enough properties to meet his own parking needs, but wanted to include a central parking deck of the block.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the major construction project, the MMI-Thornton partnership had entered into an agreement with the Urban Development Authority to provide bonds to fund the construction of the bridge. The parking structure was a crucial part of the hotel, which was originally intended to be a Hyatt Place before the deal fell through.

Thornton said through their partnership with Opterra Capital Real estate investors, they are about to announce the new boutique hotel, which will allow them greater design flexibility while paying homage to Macon’s history.

Thornton could have brought the commissioners an alternative plan that met all parking needs, he said, but wants to try again to reach an agreement with the UDA.

The authority wants to provide more parking spaces in the city center and is currently studying a proposal from another developer to partner in financing the construction of a parking terrace behind the city hall for a loft project additional residential. This bridge would provide enough space to accommodate the vehicles of county government employees.

“We strongly believe there is a benefit to all in providing additional parking to accommodate neighbors, hotel parking and to enhance the town center and our project,” Thornton said. “We believe we can make this a win-win and we look forward to this opportunity.”

P&Z’s Josh Rogers said he supports approving the project but first wants the documentation in place.

“What you plan to do needs to be demonstrated before we approve it,” Rogers said.

Commissioners voted to continue the review of the Crescent Corners Hotel and Apartments until April 25.

P&Z has approved Central City Commons’ plans for renovate the historic Newman Building to the first and to the poplar.

Opterra’s chief development office, Naomi Mirsky, called the 1891 brick building with a corner turret a “hidden gem.”

“Our intention is to restore the building itself to its former glory,” Mirsky said.

The renovation is expected to include a restaurant on the ground floor and upper floors renovated to serve as a ballroom and event space for the hotel.

“Your project, both the apartments and the hotel, is an extremely important contribution to this community,” Easom said. “We want to help you as much as possible, but we also have to consider all the other owners.”

On April 18, developers’ hotel and apartment building proposals must be returned to the design review board with adjustments to the exterior drawings that did not win the board Last week.

Refusal of canceled convenience stores

The Planning and Zoning Commission also agreed to issue the necessary permits for two convenience store projects that had previously been denied.

Staff initially refused Mehulkumar Chaudrhari’s request to reopen the former Public Safety Oil and Quick Zip site in 1610 Broadway at the corner of Concord Street.

Lawyer Bill Larsen was able to prove the store hadn’t been vacant for more than two years and should be grandfathered and exempt from new regulations passed in January that prohibit fuel tanks, pumps or storage vents within 500 feet of a residence or residential. zoned property.

Permission was granted for the store because of its history, even though the fuel pumps and awnings are at least halfway into the Broadway right-of-way.

In the other prior application refusal at 1928 Shurling DriveJim Rollins of the Summit Group successfully argued for a rehearing with a redesigned proposal for a new 4,000 square foot store to replace the old one built in 1959 which more recently served as a pawn shop.

The new design eliminates the Bayswater Drive access that P&Z objected to. Staff also recommended a landscaped buffer zone and a 6-foot fence to separate the store from neighboring homes.

This application was submitted prior to the new restrictions on fuel tank placement and will be marked as legally non-compliant under the new regulations.

The store design and layout of the property have yet to receive approval from the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department, whose representative shared doubts about sufficient access to refuel trucks on the plot. half an acre.

Senior Civic Journalism Researcher Liz Fabian covers government entities in Macon-Bibb County and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

Macon’s Poplar Street could have a new boutique hotel and entertainment complex

New boutique hotel, apartments, entertainment alley planned for downtown Macon

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