Historic Macon announces downtown lofts project

pramati@macon.comFebruary 26, 2013 

Historic Macon announced Tuesday it will rehabilitate the building at 551 Cherry St., turning it into a mixed-used property with a business storefront and four lofts.

Josh Rogers, executive director of Historic Macon, said it’s the organization’s first effort to rehabilitate a downtown property after having a great deal of success in revitalizing neighborhoods such as Beall’s Hill.

“We’ve saved 150 homes worth $15 million,” Rogers told a small crowd gathered for the announcement. “We’re a small organization, and it’s been a major accomplishment to get this done.”

Rogers said construction will begin within the next two weeks and take about six months to complete. Unlike the lofts that NewTown Macon is marketing, the Historic Macon lofts are strictly for sale, not rent. Rogers estimated the prices will range from $60,000 to $130,000, with the sizes of the lofts ranging from 585 square feet to 1,116 square feet.

On the property’s bottom floor, the business storefront will be about 1,200 square feet, with a 725-square-foot loft behind it.

Historic Macon officials said the organization approached the Peyton Anderson Foundation three years ago for help with the project. The foundation gave Historic Macon a $250,000 grant with the provision that it must find matching funds.

“The idea of a livable downtown area where people live, work and play is very critical to the success of Macon,” said Karen Lambert, president and CEO of the Peyton Anderson Foundation. “Collaboration is key. You have to have partners to be successful.”

Thanks to grant money from The 1772 Foundation, The E.J. Grassmann Trust and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, Historic Macon managed to surpass the required match with $290,000, said Aubrey Newby, president of the board of trustees.

“This is a very exciting day,” Newby said. “The key to downtown buildings is that structurally, they have to be in good condition. We need to find ones that are strong enough to handle this.”

Rogers said historic tax credits should provide a major incentive to potential buyers. The state is providing $20,000 in income tax credits. In addition, because of tax credits, property owners will pay $200 per year in property taxes instead of $2,000 per year.

Laura Schofield, executive vice president of NewTown Macon, said the project meshes well with NewTown’s revitalization and loft-building efforts.

“We’re thrilled with this project,” she said. “Investment in (the Historic Macon project) will have a ripple effect.”

Rogers said Historic Macon is working with The Rookery restaurant owners to clean up the alley that separates the two properties. The Rookery hopes to add additional outdoor seating in the alley once it’s cleaned up.

Rogers said the lofts and storefront space will be on the market immediately.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334,

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