Construction for third phase of Mercer lofts set to begin in July

efarlow@macon.comJuly 2, 2013 

The landscape around College Street soon will begin to change.

Weather permitting, demolition for the third phase of the Lofts at Mercer Village should begin sometime next week, said Jim Netherton, executive vice president for administration and finance at Mercer, and Jim Daws, president of Sierra Development.

“This is the next step in expanding housing available to students,” said Netherton.

The third phase of lofts will stretch from Alexander II Magnet School to 1268 College St., a small brick apartment building next to the Wesley House. Historic Macon will renovate the brick building, and Sierra Development will manage the four two-bedroom apartments.

Josh Rogers, executive director of Historic Macon, said this was a “really good compromise,” as the brick building originally was scheduled for demolition.

Rather than demolishing the yellow house at 1256 College St., next to the brick building, Sierra Development is hiring American-Lowe to move the house onto Mercer’s campus.

American-Lowe moved three houses from Montpelier Avenue to Oglethorpe Street as part of the second phase of the Lofts.

Although Daws said the house probably would move toward the end of July, Terry Neal of American-Lowe said Monday he was still in the process of getting paperwork and had not signed a contract yet.

Netherton, Daws and Rogers said the house will move next to the Tift Alumnae House, but Neal said, “they haven’t given me a location (to move the house to) yet.”

Netherton said Mercer does not know yet what it will do with the house.

The third phase of the lofts will have 111 beds, and Daws said there will also be study rooms and a Wi-Fi cafe with a coffee bar. Daws said there won’t be retail space below the lofts, since Phase III is farther from Mercer Village.

“I hope we’ll be through (with construction) by July 1, 2014,” said Daws.

There are a lot of variables that will determine the final cost, but Daws estimated that, including the cost of moving the yellow house, the third phase will cost about $10 million or $11 million.

Phase III of the Lofts is not the only improvement coming to College Street.

The Georgia Department of Transportation awarded a $1 million dollar Transportation Enhancement Grant to the city of Macon for improvements along College Street in 2011.

Wimberly Treadwell, a landscape architect, is the project manager for the College Street improvements.

She said the grant will be used to beautify College Street by putting in sidewalks on the Tattnall Square Park side of the street, planting trees and installing improved lighting. A roundabout at the intersection of College and Oglethorpe Streets is also part of the project plan, as is on-street parking next to the park.

“We are on the final leg (of the approval process),” said Treadwell.

Treadwell said she hopes construction will begin in September, but “these projects are federally funded, so there’s an approval process that takes a while.”

Netherton said the Lofts, along with the enhancement grant, will have a “dramatic impact on College Street and the College Hill area.”

Though Sierra Development is not receiving any money from the grant, the company is still going to do its part to help with the grant’s implementation.

“Really what we’re hoping is (the Lofts) will sort of beautify that side of campus,” said Daws.

To contact writer Emily Farlow, call 744-4225.

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