A new Tubman African American Museum should open by January 2015 after construction resumes late this year, museum Director Andy Ambrose said Thursday.
Ambrose told the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority that design work is being completed now, and interior construction should begin in November or December. That would complete a long-dormant shell of a building on Cherry Street, which the Urban Development Authority now owns.
The move into the new building would free up the old Tubman property on Walnut Street, which is about one-sixth the size of the new museum.
The authoritys chairman, Chris Sheridan, said the new Tubman is critical to the downtown Macon.
We want to do everything we can to help you out, Sheridan told Ambrose.
Ambrose said the new construction will cost about $5.5 million, while the museum has commitments of at least $6.2 million to complete the work.
Part of that money, $2.5 million, comes from a special purpose local option sales tax. That money is channeled to the Urban Development Authority, which became the owner of the building in deals involving the Tubman, the authority and the city of Macon. Legally, the authority has bought the Cherry Street museum shell, which so far has cost about $12.5 million and is now valued at about $9 million, for the $2.5 million in SPLOST money.
Other funding includes $1.5 million from the Peyton Anderson Foundation, $1 million from NewTown Macon, congressional appropriations of about $830,000 and a Woodruff Foundation grant of about $200,000.
Alex Morrison, the authoritys executive director, said groups are interested in the existing Tubman museum space on Walnut Street, which is about 8,100 square feet. That could be used as space for artists, Morrison said. Under the contracts, the authority and the museum would split the proceeds from any sale of that property.
Work on the Cherry Street property stopped in 2005 when the museum ran out of money. Ambrose said Thursday that one benefit of the delays is that more efficient technologies have been developed, and the new museum may qualify for LEED low-energy certification.
Separately, the authority agreed to accept a $225,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, which would fund half of a downtown master plan. Morrison said the Peyton Anderson Foundation may be willing to sponsor a similar amount to conduct the study.
Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said a similar planning effort for the College Hill Corridor paid off. He wants a broad view of downtown. I hope well take the blinders off and expand downtown from Emery Highway to Eisenhower, from the interstate to Seventh Street, he said.
Reichert also asked the authority if it would be interested in hearing about a possible downtown baseball stadium. Authority members were interested in learning more. Reichert spokesman Chris Floore said later that consultants may ask the authority to fund a feasibility study to determine whether, and what kind, of stadium could be built.
Weve had several iterations of baseball here, and some of the smaller teams that were here were doing well, Floore said.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.