Grants totaling more than $500,000 are being awarded for projects aimed at enhancing downtown Macon.
Nearly two dozen groups and businesses won the awards, which were announced by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia on Tuesday night.
It’s the first round of winners in the Downtown Challenge, a three-year, $3 million program that will fund approved community ideas in the downtown area.
Recipients were chosen based on priorities outlined in the Macon Action Plan, a five-year plan designed to improve Macon’s urban core, which stretches from the central business district to surrounding historic neighborhoods.
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Applicants are required to meet funding priorities and fulfill one of four community needs — economic development, experience, living and connectivity.
The Peyton Anderson and John S. and James L. Knight foundations each contributed $1.5 million to the Downtown Challenge. Approved projects will be used to improve the area framed by Interstate 75 to the west, Seventh Street and the Ocmulgee National Monument to the east, Little Richard Penniman Boulevard to the south, and Emery Highway to the north.
Projects range from as little as $500 to more than $88,000 and include ideas ranging from a bike-share service to money for piano and acoustic sets by musicians on sidewalks and in parks.
“These exciting projects will accelerate the positive momentum in downtown Macon,” Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation, said in a release.
Here’s a look at the projects:
▪ Macon-Bibb Convention & Visitors Bureau, $88,170: To provide bike-share services in downtown Macon through Macon Soul Cycles, encouraging visitors, employees and residents to use bikes to visit area businesses, explore the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and enjoy the outdoors.
▪ Bryan Nichols, $75,000: To transform Poplar Street with Christmas lights and music to create a holiday attraction in downtown Macon.
▪ Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, $62,500: To hire a landscape architect and civil engineer to design bike connections along Third Street from Riverside Drive to Poplar Street.
▪ AnT Sculpture and Design, $35,000: To transform Bernd Park — located at Magnolia and Spring streets — into the Bernd Plein Air Art Park, integrating public art, play and functional landscaping, including a large ceramic sculpture with a functional bridge, slide and swings to create a downtown destination.
▪ Historic Macon Foundation, $30,000: To survey, plan and purchase permits for the Spring Street to Rose Hill Cemetery connection on the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.
▪ NewTown Macon, $30,000: To reach approval for a Community Improvement District that would allow downtown property owners to pay a fee based on property values for services above and beyond what local government provides.
▪ Macon-Bibb County, $25,000: To create a signage master plan for downtown Macon, including designs for destination markers, informational kiosks and parking garages.
▪ Navicent Health, $25,000: To design a transportation plan for the hospital campus, including a proposed round-about at Daisy Park and the intersection of Spring, Pine and Forsyth streets. Navicent will match funds to complete the project.
▪ Macon Arts Alliance, $18,000: To commission temporary sidewalk murals connected by temporary painted arrows and newly painted crosswalks in an “East to West Art Walk,” improving connections between Mill Hill and the central business district.
▪ Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority, $17,280: To plan, design and construct an entrance gate to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and parking lot at Clinton Street.
▪ NewTown Macon, $15,000: To purchase movable furniture to turn public spaces into the center stage for downtown community life.
▪ The 11th Hour, $12,000: To write and host a local, live musical theater production that traces the stories of Macon’s music history.
▪ Friends of Macon Music, $10,000: To host piano and acoustic sets featuring musicians performing on sidewalks and at parks and fund the placement of artistically painted pianos in public places that invite people to spontaneously play music.
▪ Theatre Macon, $9,915: To enhance the alley next to Theatre Macon, adding café lights, iron planters, sign holders and other features.
▪ Historic Macon Foundation, $7,000: To partner with Bibb County Planning & Zoning and the Design Review Board and provide staff and county commissioners with “Smarter Commissioners = Better Communities” training through a nationally recognized program.
▪ Georgia Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects – Middle Section, $6,850: To host the Poplar Street Yard Charrette in which community members and design professionals create a report of possible improvements for the yard.
▪ Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, $6,785: To install 30 free-standing dog waste stations in downtown city parks and on various downtown streets.
▪ Macon Area Habitat for Humanity Inc., $6,000: To design two sets of plans for Pleasant Hill and East Macon’s Main Street neighborhoods’ historic homes to improve affordable housing and lessen blight.
▪ Historic Macon, $5,000: To host “Preservation Pop-up Speakeasies” in unexpected places, drawing attention to underutilized spaces and advocate for preservation and development of Macon’s historic buildings.
▪ Macon-Bibb County, Main Street Macon, $5,000: To enhance “Christmas on First Street,” an annual street fair held on First Street and Rosa Parks Square featuring holiday events and small business celebrations.
▪ Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority, $500: To design and construct a simple, light-weight, easy to maintain storage structure housing sports equipment for anyone to use for pick-up games. A prototype locker will be installed in front of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Five more cycles remain in the grant selection process. The next deadline is in September.
The foundation is set to provide a series of tips for applying for a grant in the weeks before the deadline, according to the release.
For more information and to apply, visit www.downtownchallengemacon.org.
Avery Braxton: firstname.lastname@example.org, @brax_avery