The Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority approved $4.7 million in revenue bonds Tuesday that will renovate parts of the former Ballard Middle-High School into an office and classrooms for the new Promise Neighborhoods initiative.
Macon was one of only 15 communities in the country -- and the only one in the Southeast -- to receive a $500,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Educations Promise Neighborhood program last year. The program here will aim to improve student achievement in the Tindall Heights and Unionville neighborhoods.
The whole idea is to bring up those neighborhoods, said Chix Miller, Urban Development Authority attorney.
The borrower listed in the bond resolution is a nonprofit group, Central Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development Inc., which plans to rehab about 100,000 square feet of the school building at 1780 Anthony Road, Miller said.
The site will house the Macon Promise Neighborhood, described in the bond resolution as a cooperative coalition of nonprofit and governmental partners. Those three-dozen partners include Mercer University, the city of Macon, Bibb County, the Peyton Anderson Foundation, the Macon Housing Authority and the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council.
The Peyton Anderson Foundation also has given the Macon initiative a $150,000 grant.
Planning for the effort began two years ago, including groundwork for the bond issue.
The (bond) issue was induced in 2009 and is coming to the fore now in part because the economy is somewhat better and the interest rates are better, Miller said.
Officials hope Macon Promise Neighborhood can get federal implementation funding, which would mean about $5 million annually for the program.
To call writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.