Once Macon’s proudest hotel, Dempsey Apartments has become a downtown home for senior citizens, the disabled and others who get government housing support.
Residents obviously aren’t homeless, but many of them tend to congregate outside. Politicians and business leaders have often talked of moving the Dempsey’s residents somewhere else and turning the building back into a hotel or regular apartments to help improve downtown’s image.
But that’s extremely unlikely, according to John Hiscox, executive director of the Macon Housing Authority.
Hiscox, who routinely deals with the federal government on housing grants and programs, said the Dempsey’s ownership made a deal with the government the last time they refinanced. He says the owners signed a 20-year agreement to use the building as “deep-subsidy housing” for low-income, elderly people, and that any future owners would be bound by the same agreement.
There are 18 years left on that agreement.
“It would literally at this point take an act of Congress” to change that,” Hiscox says.
The Dempsey represents “a big aesthetic problem,” said Brad Evans, who lives and works downtown and publishes the biweekly newspaper The 11th Hour.
“I think most people don’t like seeing a bunch of old amputees around,” he said of the Dempsey.
“That’s just the cold, hard truth of it.”
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.