Mayor Robert Reicherts plan to revitalize Second Street and connect it to Little Richard Penniman Boulevard has gotten a few changes, presented to Macon City Council on Tuesday night.
Consultants Daniel Foth of CHA/Huntley Partners and Zan Thompson of ZT3 Placemaker Studio ran through the results of a public design discussion from September and meetings in nine neighborhoods along the roads course. The intent is to make Second Street a real destination, not just an artery for movement, Foth said. One of those features is construction of a tree-lined Mid-City Square at the intersection of Second and Pine streets.
Several council members at the nonvoting work session, notably Henry Ficklin, Henry Gibson, Charles Jones and Virgil Watkins, asked for the section of Second Street beyond the hump bridge to Eisenhower Parkway to be added to the revitalization plan.
Council could vote to do that, Reichert said, but the point of this plan is to first spend money where it will bring the quickest return.
We cant do the whole town in one fell swoop, he said. Were going to try to get to every neighborhood, but you have to start somewhere.
The November 2011 special purpose local option sales tax included $8 million to build a connector between Second and Penniman. But thats only the first small step, Reichert said, in what he hopes will be a 30-year process of new infrastructure drawing private investment, with that in turn funding more improvements.
When you ask me what the total cost of this project is, I have no earthly idea, Reichert said; but over the years, he hopes it will stimulate $70 million to $100 million in investment.
Thompson said the initial plans east end was Emery Highway, but now it connects to Gray Highway. They particularly want to attract tourist venues and hotels to that area, near the existing convention center and Ocmulgee National Monument, he said.
Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, who represents the east side of town, asked if there was any idea of going even further in that direction.
Foth said there were some preliminary designs for landscaping and medians further up Gray Highway, but no definite plan.
Certainly I think Gray Highway could use some greening, he said.
On the other end, Thompson said, the plan now goes up Mercer University Drive all the way to Interstate 75. Mercer University is building a football stadium in that area, and late last year the city extended a tax allocation district, or TAD, on the downtown portion of Second to include the area around I-75 as far as Pio Nono Avenue.
The purpose of that TAD is to fund future work in the area through funneling back whatever higher property tax revenue results from the increased value of redevelopment. The expanded section was added primarily to include a $20 million streetcar station; a streetcar line is one of the redevelopment plans central features.
Foth said hell return in March with a complete implementation plan for councils consideration, including funding ideas for various components along the entire corridor.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.