The Telegraph has written a good bit about NewTown Macon and other economic development groups efforts to increase residential units downtown.
Ive written a number of those articles myself.
NewTown gave a presentation to Macon Rotary Club members this week to encourage business owners and others to invest in the downtown housing boom.
The demand for housing here continues to fascinate me. Property owners are scrambling to breathe new life into buildings, and renters are snatching them up just as fast.
After listening to NewTowns pitch, I set out to talk to one of these new downtown dwellers about their life in the heart of the city.
I quickly found Jay Carroll near Market City Cafe. Soon I was envious of the Third Street resident as he pointed in every direction to some of his favorite restaurants, bars and other places, all located within blocks of the loft he shares with his wife.
It became clear to me that Carroll enjoys a pretty good quality of life living in downtown Macon. Right after talking to him, however, I met another man on Third Street whose experiences living downtown were the polar opposite.
His name is Octavius Hunter. Hes also a new downtown resident, but hes been living on the streets for the last two years. He slept in Central City Park on Sunday night.
I sleep everywhere, the 33-year-old said. Its tough out here. Im trying to find a job.
Hunters last job was at the Hooters restaurant on Riverside Drive, where he was a dishwasher. He was fired after a short stint there in 2009. I was always late. I had transportation problems, he said.
Hunter, a high school dropout, said he was born and raised in Macon. I got my GED, he said. Many people he encounters on the street have the wrong idea about him and other homeless people downtown, Hunter said.
Out here being homeless, people think were all on drugs, but were not. Were all different.
Ive spent a lot of time downtown during the last six years talking to business owners and city officials, and the homeless issue -- the elephant in the room -- nearly always comes up.
It even came up Monday as I talked to Bryan Nichols of Nichols Investment Group as he and contractors were working to convert 546 Poplar St. into a coffee shop and four lofts.
Homelessness is a very big issue in downtown Macon, but not for the reasons people think, Nichols said. Its not an issue of crime. Some people think if I get out of my car Ill get mugged, but its not like that. ... You could meet the nicest guy and hes homeless.
There are 10 different organizations that cater to the homeless downtown. The thing is Macon does such a good job (taking care of homeless people), why would they leave? ... These are good organizations, but I would like to see them help them move beyond homelessness.
That was almost identical to what Hunter had told me hours earlier.
You have the Salvation Army helping people, the Macon Rescue Mission ... Hunter said, but theyve been helping them for years. We need help to get off the street.
Hunter said he has a strong faith in God and he goes to church regularly. I asked him what church he attends and he said, a bunch of churches.
If you attend worship services in the downtown area, you possibly have seen him. He said hes met a lot of people. Some are generous and some are nasty and rude to you, he said.
You cant be nasty to people. It seems like a lot of them read the Bible, but they dont really live it.
To contact Business Editor Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.