A nearly 95-year-old building that has been used mostly to repair vehicles over the years, and was featured in a movie as a bus station, will soon reopen with a new use.
The building, which sat vacant for at least the past 15 years, will become the new home for Adams ADR, an alternative dispute resolution firm that handles arbitration and mediation, said its founder, attorney Brian Adams.
“We thought we would have a mediation firm in town that would service all of Georgia, but we would focus on Middle and South Georgia,” said Adams, who also is founder of Adams Law Firm in Macon.
While there are mediation firms in north Atlanta, Adams bought out the only other one in Macon, South Georgia Mediation Service, he said. He began his business in January and has been operating out of temporary space at Third and Mulberry streets while renovations were being done at the new location, located at 577 Third St. on the corner of Plum Street.
His firm is contacted “if you had a medical malpractice case or a car-wreck case and the judge says, ‘Before you come try your case, you’ve got to have it mediated to try to get it resolved,’ ” Adams said.
The firm has one full-time employee, and another person may be added as the business grows. It contracts with independent lawyers and judges who serve on a panel as mediators. Adams’ father, retired Bibb County State Court Judge William “Bill” Adams, serves as one of the mediators.
While mediation is not binding, it is “very common” in civil cases, Brian Adams said.
Adams had hoped to open the new office next week, but threatening weather from Hurricane Florence is pushing that back a little.
“We’ll be in by the end of the month,” he said.
He selected the location after he had “driven past it a thousand times when looking for a place to kind of be a part of downtown and still have parking ... and super easy to access,” he said.
The building got its 15 seconds of fame as a bus station in the movie “42,” which was shot in Macon in 2012. Adams said he hopes to find photos from when the movie crew was in town and create prints to decorate the office.
He has invested more than $1 million in the renovation of the old garage building, which was done by Macon-based general contractor Ryan Griffin.
“We pretty much gutted the whole thing,” Adams said. “It was a start-from-scratch project. ...We could have done it cheaper with a tear down, but we’re very pleased with the finish product.”
Some of the original brick on the building came down during the 2008 Mother’s Day storm.
“The original section with the bay doors when it was a garage, that is the historic portion that we have preserved,” he said. “We worked with Historic Macon on the preservation portion of it. … Historic Macon has been super helpful.”
Ethiel Garlington, executive director of the Historic Macon Foundation, said they were happy Adams tackled “this unique adaptive use project.”
The building was constructed about 1924 and originally served as the Williams Manufacturing Co. auto repair department, said Garlington, who provided the history of the structure.
By 1930, the Bibb Tire Co. had acquired the building. Five years later, it became a Goodyear Service Store and a filling station was added on the southern corner of the property around the 1950s. Union Furniture and an auto rental business moved into the structure during the 1970s, and the building continued to house various auto rental companies until the 1990s. In 1994, Bill’s Tire and Auto Repairs used the building briefly, before it was officially listed as vacant in 2000.
“The service station will now serve a new life as beautiful office space,” Garlington said in an email. “This project not only shows the creativity of Brian, but also it shows that downtown’s boundaries continue to expand as our renaissance continues.”