A $10 million mixed-used development featuring retail space and loft-style apartments is planned on Mercer University’s campus in Macon.
Two Macon-based companies, Sierra Development and Piedmont Construction Group, will build the four-story, 55,000-square-foot building called The Lofts at Mercer Village as part of the College Hill Corridor.
A number of local business leaders, government officials and Mercer board members attended a news conference at the university Friday afternoon to announce the planned development.
“This will be a great impetus for further development of the corridor, and Mercer is really pleased to be a part of this,” said Mercer President Bill Underwood. “The investment will be a private investment and Mercer will be providing the ground lease. ... It’s great to find a development company that has access to capital.”
The Lofts at Mercer Village will be located on Montpelier Avenue across from Ingleside Pizza and Jittery Joe’s Coffee. The spot is now a parking lot.
Each floor of the building will have about 13,750 square feet of space. The Mercer Bookstore, operated by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, will move from its location in Penfield Hall and take about half of the first floor.
The remainder of the first floor will have retail spaces with three- and four-bedroom loft-style apartments on the top three floors.
The building will have a Cherokee brick exterior, said David Thompson with Piedmont Construction.
“We will try to blend it in with the flavor of Mercer and of the neighborhood,” Thompson said. “(It will) pay homage to both.”
Construction is expected to begin in March, Thompson said.
The bookstore is scheduled to move in December 2010, and the first apartment units should be ready in January 2011.
In a brief statement, Underwood talked about the progress that had been made with the College Hill Corridor project, which was the offspring of a class project two years ago.
A key component of the corridor project has been the Knight Foundation, which founded the initial $250,000 planning grant, Underwood said.
Then this past spring, the foundation provided an additional $5 million in funding for the project.
“The goal was to take this $5 million as seed money and use it to begin attracting public and private investments in the corridor,” he said.
Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said it was “exciting to see things happen like you hoped they would.”
The university’s arrangement with the developers is similar to the one Mercer made with developers of the Hilton Garden Inn four years ago, according to information provided by the university.
Mercer is providing the land and the developers are building the structure, will lease the apartment units and retail space, provide facility maintenance and manage the residential operations.
Mayor Robert Reichert said the development would contribute “mightily” to the success of the area.
“What do you say about an amenity for the university, which is also an amenity to the neighborhood which is also an amenity to community at large?” Reichert said. “Amen.”
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.