Twenty downtown apartments in the Dannenberg Building, at the corner of Third and Poplar streets, will be ready for tenants by the end of July -- and 10 of those are already leased, developer Gene Dunwody Sr. told Macon City Council members Tuesday.
The rest of the buildings 65 units will probably be ready by the end of August, he told the 10 council members and Mayor Robert Reichert who toured the building during a nonvoting work session.
His son and partner Gene Dunwody Jr. said they expect the 15 studio, 34 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom apartments to be fully occupied by the end of the year.
Dunwody Sr. thanked council members for approving the redirection of $1.5 million to the Dannenberg Lofts project.
Without transferring the money that was originally allocated for Atlantic Cotton Mills, this project would not be here today, he said.
That money, sent for recovery from the 2008 Mothers Day tornado, was steered to the Dannenberg redevelopment after the mill building burned. The Dunwodys said it was the last piece of financing needed for a project theyd hoped to do for 20 years.
But developers will repay that money into a revolving loan fund for redevelopment, managed by the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, Dunwody Jr. said.
There is zero grant money in this project, he said. Theres zero money thats not going to be paid back.
All public money involved is only a loan, except for federal tax credits, Dunwody Jr. said.
Council members stood in the lobby, looking up into a four-story open atrium topped by a skylight, each level lined by apartment doors.
This is great, Councilman Ed DeFore said. Once this takes off, I think this is really going to bring people back downtown.
DeFore said he remembered walking with his mother from east Macon to see toys on display at Christmastime in the Dannenberg building basement 70 years ago, when it was one of the regions best-known department stores.
Now the ground-floor windows are again filled with glass, fronting three retail spaces. One will house Kinetics gymnasium; a gym membership will be included with tenants rent, and discounted memberships may be available to residents of nearby apartments, Dunwody Jr. said.
Developers are still seeking a grocery store as a second tenant, and would like a coffee shop or small restaurant to occupy the third space, he said.
The apartments, which include washer-dryer hookups, access to a parking deck and front-door security, have to compete with other complexes in town and so must be priced competitively, Dunwody Jr. said.
The units are priced between $600 a month and $1,800 a month, he said.
Developers led council members and the mayor on tours of the nearly-finished apartments at the back of the building, showing that each unit is different. Its also fully wired for Internet access, which is included in the lease, Dunwody Jr. said.
Developers and UDA Executive Director Alex Morrison said that since work started on the Dannenberg less than a year ago, there has been increased interest in many other downtown projects.
The difficulty, he said, is that the potential projects need to attract investors from outside Macon -- theres not enough money in town to live up to the potential, as the long wait on the Dannenberg building showed, he said.
This project was extremely hard to finance, Dunwody Jr. said.
Public Works Director Richard Powell told council members during an afternoon committee meeting that he and staff are working hard to get the city landfill in shape to pass state inspection.
In June the landfill failed state inspection, after passing last November for the first time in several years. Powell said Public Works now has enough manpower and equipment to deal with erosion and other problems; workers just need a couple weeks of dry weather to get the landfill back in shape.
The Public Works Department is not satisfied with the inspection. We know we can do better, he said.
A passing score is 80; last year the landfill scored 95, but in June that dropped to 50, with inspectors citing many erosion-related concerns.
Powells written response to the state cited a record 12.25 inches of rain in June -- four times the previous Junes total -- and frequent breakdowns of equipment.
Now the landfill has ample equipment, with only minor repairs needed; but it cant run on soggy ground, he told members of the council Public Works & Engineering Committee.
We just need some dry time, Powell said.
Councilman Tom Ellington said he was concerned by the previous breakdowns and several other issues, but was glad to see Powells detailed plan for dealing with each noted violation.
Council members DeFore, Elaine Lucas and Lonnie Miley praised Powell and Public Works crews, with Miley, the committee chairman, adding that he thinks city workers can handle sanitation and maintenance duties countywide after Macon and Bibb County governments merge in January 2014.
I dont think we need to consider privatizing Public Works, Miley said.
Powell said afterward that he has proposed adding 22 employees to his existing 74-member staff to collect garbage throughout the county, including a universal single-stream recycling program. Bibb County now hires a contractor for trash pickup and recycling, but Powell predicted his plan would eventually save up to $1 million after initial equipment purchases.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.