East Macon could handle the development of 46 to 62 new apartments or houses a year, according to Laurie Volk, co-managing director of Zimmerman/Volk Associates Inc.
She and Vickie Scott, CEO of Legacy Builders Foundation, told Macon City Council members at the Community Resources & Development Committee that east Macon is ripe for redevelopment, especially around the Coliseum Medical Center at the corner of Coliseum Drive and Emery Highway.
You really need to concentrate your effort in one spot, Volk said.
Since October 2012, Volk and Scott have been studying the area thanks to a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant, with the prospect of building a redevelopment project called Walnut Creek Village.
Community meetings and talks with other experts led to the plan, Scott said.
Nearly two-thirds of area residents are senior citizens, but new development -- or restoration of old houses -- should focus on drawing in younger residents, Volk said.
About half of potential new residents are likely to want apartments, she said. But developers must be careful not to price units too high -- thats caused others to fail, Volk said. Apartments should start around $575 to $1,100 per month, and houses from $110,000 to $155,000, she said.
The projections are based largely on the citys experience in redeveloping the Bealls Hill area, Volk said.
Councilman Charles Jones said crime is a key issue, and Volk and Scott agreed. But just as important as actual safety is the perception of safety, cleaning up areas a block at a time to make people feel secure, Volk said.
The area has many assets, such as having jobs nearby at the hospital and in downtown, and nearness to the Ocmulgee National Monument and the citys Bowden Golf Course, Volk said. Getting one development started may be hard, but that start will encourage others to invest, she said.
In other business, council:
Agreed 12-0, after the departure of Councilman Charles Jones, to borrow $2 million from the Filomena Fund to pay the citys bills until property tax revenue begins rolling in this fall.
As amended at the suggestion of Councilman Henry Ficklin, the resolution says the money should be repaid to the reserve fund, which now totals $7.2 million, no later than Dec. 31. The fund, named for late Councilwoman Filomena Mullis, was set up several years ago to keep the city from having to borrow outside money until tax revenue arrived.
Approved a ban on boots -- vehicle immobilization devices -- in the city. Council President James Timley, who sponsored the ordinance, said in a Monday meeting that one parking lot downtown hired an outside firm to boot 21 cars without notice, charging motorists high fees for removing them. Councilwoman Nancy White said the city should regulate booting, as it regulates towing, but not ban the practice outright.
The final vote was not clear; a few ayes were audible, with Whites the only clear no, and Timley ruled it passed.
Recommended that the city put the ventilation system in the grill at Bowden Golf Course in working order, allowing a contractor to serve golfers fresh-cooked hot food. The vote was 12-0. City Public Affairs Director Chris Floore said the work is already almost done for well under $20,000, with only appliance purchase and an inspection left to complete.
Voted 13-0 to allow home-brewers of beer to take their products to special judging events. Councilwoman Lauren Benedict, the main sponsor, said its aimed at the Pints for Prostates fundraiser, which has a beer-tasting contest.
Approved releasing $25,000 in this years budget to fund the Georgia Childrens Museum, over the no votes of Councilwomen Benedict and Beverly K. Olson.
They objected to the museums lack of an annual audit; the resolution does demand an audit -- but not before this years money is released.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.