There’s a chance Bateman & Wade grocery, once a midtown Macon institution, could be torn down and turned into a small park.
For now, the building at the corner of Clayton Street and Rogers Avenue, a block north of Vineville Avenue, is in real-estate limbo.
Last fall, authorities seized and shuttered the corner market in a gambling raid that included several other convenience marts.
Now, some residents in the area are considering pooling their money to buy the store through a neighborhood nonprofit.
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If given the opportunity to buy it, they would have to pay off a $62,500 mortgage, said Macon attorney Lars Anderson of the Vineville Neighborhood Association. The beige, concrete-block store, which sits on a quarter-acre of land, sold for $135,000 two years ago.
“If we were to be able to obtain the property, right now our working model is (making it) a green space,” said Anderson, who lives near the store.
The plan is to dedicate the park to a well-known person “who was uniformly celebrated or revered by all segments of the community,” he said. “It’s a crossroads between a historically black and a historically white neighborhood. And if we’re gonna come together, we ought to pick somebody that we all say, ‘That person ... demonstrated qualities we all appreciate.’”
Though the park idea is still in the proposal stage, Anderson said, “We’d like a fenced area that people feel safe going to, that people can sit and be welcome. ... We’d like it shaded -- heaven knows, it’s Macon.”
Since the store was boarded up last year and its doors chained shut, Anderson said there has been “a significant reduction in negative events” there.
Even so, county officials say the place has been burglarized on numerous occasions.
According to Telegraph archives, Robert Wade and Ross Bateman bought the market in 1952 before selling it in the early 1970s.
Jenny Zimmerman, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2001, described the area as “walkable” with “a lot of pleasant people.”
Zimmerman, who works at Mercer University, said of the store, “Whatever’s gonna happen to it, we’d like to prevent it from going back to an eyesore.”
She recalled shopping there on occasion when she first moved in, dropping in to buy a newspaper or grab a bag of ice.
“And it didn’t seem so bad,” she said, “but it got worse over the years.”
To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.