Macon's zoning commission approved a plan Monday for a new shopping center on Bass Road at Starcadia Circle in north Bibb County after the chairman expressed some changes he would like to see in the final plan.
The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for 1625 Bass Road to allow a 185,000-square-foot retail center to be known as North Macon Plaza. A variance in parking requirements also was approved. The application was filed by Sembler Florida Inc.
The proposed center would be built on about 19 acres of an existing 27-acre site surrounded by Starcadia Circle. Access to retailers and parking would be from Bass Road and from driveways along Starcadia Circle.
During the past 13 years, there have been several retail plans for this site, which is owned by an entity of Macon-based Fickling & Co.
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Zan Thompson, owner of ZT3 Placemaker Studio, who is consulting on the project, said the developers are planning a "high-quality, sustainable shopping center" that could have fewer square feet and could be as small as 169,000 square feet. One thing that would make it sustainable is that "it has no special tenants. ... it would be suitable to a variety of today's retail tenants ... that allows fexibility." It would have "no very large boxes," he said, referring to big stores such as Target, Walmart or Dick's Sporting Goods.
Thompson only hinted at the retailers expected to occupy the shopping center.
"Some will be new to the Macon area," he said. "One is actually returning to the Macon-Bibb market after being gone for a number of years, and some will be tenants that have multiple locations."
Attorney Bill Larsen said those involved are excited about what the center will mean to the area.
"We believe it's attractive while at the same time realistic, and that it will appeal to quality tenants, desirable tenants," Larsen said. "We believe this shopping center will be a real positive for the city of Macon in terms of ... a variety of shops available and also jobs for this community and tax revenue for this community."
Commission Chairman Kamal Azar strongly expressed his feelings about the plan saying he would like to see changes to the parking in front of the retailers to include more landscaped features to break up a long row of parking spaces.
"We want to see something with a sense of place," Azar said. "I don't think you are sacrificing a lot. I don't think what we're asking for is too much. ... I just don't think as it's presented today ... it's sustainable."
An architect for the developer agreed that his ideas were "workable."
The commission unanimously approved the plan with the caveat that the developers would work with the staff to incorporate changes as discussed.
Plans are to begin construction this summer and to have it open by September 2019, Thompson said.
Other items on the agenda were:
DEFERRED FROM PREVIOUS MEETING:
342 Main St., 320 & 334 Hydrolia St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of a new convenience store with fuel and alcohol sales, CBD-2 District. Bob Lewis & Associates Inc. applicant. Deferred.
108 North Haven Drive: Conditional use to allow a fence within undisturbed buffer, PDR District. Rafig Khoja, Justin Hollingsworth, applicant. Approved.
1979 Riverside Drive: Conditional use to allow auto sales, C-4 District. Baxter Auto Brokers, applicant. Approved.
600 Eisenhower Pkwy.: Conditional use to allow a private school (nurse aide training), R-2 District. Shandriyel Ben, applicant. Approved.
1985 Gray Highway: Conditional use to allow revisions to a previously approved site plan, C-2 District. Cunningham & Co. Engineers, applicant. Approved.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:
901 Washington Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of a free standing and wall sign for a professional office, HR-3 District. DTT Enterprises, applicant. Approved.
543 Plum St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications, CBD-1 District. Sidney Haynes, applicant. Approved.
4226 Hartley Bridge Road: Variance in signage requirements to allow a wall sign, C-4 District. Hartley Bridge Family Dentistry, applicant. Approved.
5440 Bowman Road:Variance in parking requirements to allow parking stalls, PDE District. Nathan Adams, applicant. Approved.
7545 Knoxville Road: Conditional use to allow a changeable display sign [18-20133], A-Agricultural District. The Sign Store, applicant. Approved.
858 High St.: Conditional use to allow a professional office [18-20157], HR-3 District. Howard Sanchez, Fitzroy Flex Health LLC., applicant. Approved.