Two former Macon schools get OK for housing units

lmorris@macon.comMay 12, 2014 

Miller_School

A.L. Miller High School on Montpelier Avenue.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

Two abandoned former Macon schools may come back to life as multi-family residential developments.

Monday, the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved the projects planned for the former Hunt Elementary School in east Macon and the former A.L. Miller High School on Montpelier Avenue.

Together, the two initiatives would create more than 120 housing units.

“We’re saving all kinds of abandoned properties,” said commission Chairwoman Sarah Gerwig-Moore. “We don’t always get to consider applications like this.”

The commission approved a rezoning application for 3 acres of a 10-acre site at 990 Shurling Drive and 1620 Kitchens Road from a commercial district to a multi-family district. The remaining 7 acres is already zoned for multi-family residential use.

The property, which is the site of the former Hunt school, is near the Northeast Plaza Shopping Center on Shurling Drive.

In-Fill Housing Inc., a nonprofit development company formed by the Macon Housing Authority, plans to develop 60 housing units for seniors. Some of the apartments would be in the former Hunt Elementary School with other units in two additional buildings which will be built on the property.

The development would have 27 two-bedroom, one-bath units and 33 one-bedroom, one-bath units.

The proposed budget for the development is $8 million, said attorney George Greer.

In-Fill Housing has done other projects similar to this in Macon, including the reconstruction of the former Pearl Stephens Elementary School, Greer said.

“It has had a transformative effect,” he said.

June Walker, who has lived on Kitchens Road for more than 50 years, said she was concerned about the additional traffic the project may cause.

But commission Executive Director Jim Thomas said the P&Z staff looked at the potential traffic impact, and “it just wasn’t there” for a senior apartment development.

The commission also approved Monday a conditional-use permit for the rehabilitation of the former Hunt school and construction of the two additional buildings.

Additionally, another multi-family development is planned at 2241 Montpelier Ave., the site of the former Miller High.

The commission approved a conditional-use permit to allow a multi-family development with 62 apartments as well as the construction of nine single-family dwellings on the 11.27-acre tract.

Louisville, Kentucky-based Oracle Consulting Services LLC plans to convert the former school buildings into apartments, and the single-family homes would be built on the western section of the site abutting Birch Street.

Amenities would include a playground and a gazebo. The proposal includes the demolition of the school’s former gymnasium and that area would become green space.

Mark Wright with Oracle said his company discovered the property when it was put on the 2008 Georgia Trust list of places in peril. It also is listed on Macon’s 2011 Urban Renewal Plan as a target property for rehabilitation. The exterior will remain the same, he said.

“We want to take this local landmark and make it a national landmark,” Wright said. “It’s going to be a nice facility when it’s done.”

Gerwig-Moore said the school property has been empty and abandoned since she was in middle school.

“It probably should have been closed 10 years before that,” she said. “But it’s a beautiful building and has the potential to be a real gem again.”

Both multi-family developments are expected to be financed using state and federal tax credits.

Other items on the agenda were:

CONDITIONAL USES:

2720 Riverside Drive: Conditional use to allow a church in an existing building, C-4 District. William Fambro, All Things Are Possible Ministries, applicant. Approved.

1871 Pio Nono Ave.: Conditional use to allow used car sales, C-2 District. Amarender Reddy, Gold Stone Automotive, applicant. Approved.

1127 Kitchens St.: Conditional use to allow a building addition (fellowship hall/multi-purpose building), R-2 District. Stafford Builders & Consultants Inc., Union Baptist Church, applicant. Approved.

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:

861 High St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of a sign, HR-3 District. First Baptist Church of Christ, Bill McLees, MBS Architects, applicant. Approved.

552-580 Cherry St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow exterior modifications, CBD-1 District. Urban Development Concepts LLC, applicant. Approved.

VARIANCES:

305 Buford Place: Variance in setback and height requirements to allow a fence, HR-1 District. Ryan Willis, applicant. Deferred by staff.

101 Tyler Court: Variance in setback requirements to allow an accessory building, R-1AAA District. John Burney, applicant. Approved.

1084 Tucker Road: Variance in height requirements to allow a fence, A-Agricultural District. Jeni Bagnato, applicant. Approved.

VIOLATIONS:

4885 Log Cabin Drive/4023 Lafayette Drive: In violation of the conditions of approval of Zoning Compliance #13-0666 (storing vehicles), R-2/R-1A District. Flex Kabuye, Kegs Auto Sales. Found in violation, Kabuye has 30 days to remove trailer.

222 Emery Highway/221-233 Astor St.: In violation of Section 27.05 of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution (storing vehicles in various stages of repair and storage of vehicles related to another business), C-2 District. Flex Kabuye, Kegs Auto Sales. Found in violation. Kabuye has 60 days to removed vehicles from right of way and any inoperable vehicles.

ITEMS FOR COMMISSION RATIFICATION -- VARIANCES:

182 Lakeloch Drive: Variance in setback requirements to allow a fence, PDR District [14-0454]. Kevin Reaves, applicant. Approved.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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