New life coming to historic school building, plus 2 new Macon hotels get green light

Two new hotels and plans to turn an old school into apartments for seniors have the green light after approval Monday at a Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission hearing.

Plans for the assisted living facility call for 60 units, a cafeteria and two dining halls plus parking for 40-60 residents and five employees.

Knoxville, Tennessee-based Dover Development was first given the go-ahead to start work on the old Alexander IV school at a December 2017 meeting. The permit had since expired.

It was unclear when the facility might open. A message left by The Telegraph for Rick Dover, the company’s managing director, was not returned late Monday.

The historic building fell in disrepair after long stretches of vacancy. It was declared surplus property by the Bibb County school board in 2013.

In 2015, Alexander IV was named as one of the properties on Historic Macon Foundation’s inaugural “Fading Five,” an annual campaign that highlights historic buildings that are in disrepair and worthy of preservation efforts.

Reached by phone after the meeting, Ethiel Garlington, Historic Macon’s executive director, told The Telegraph he did not know when Alexander IV might reopen, but the 2020 Fading Five announcement later this month would take place there.

In other business, a company applying to operate at the old Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia digs at Telfair and Hazel streets will have to wait at least six months before getting the commission’s approval.

Jim Thomas, executive director of the commission, said that is because of a state law that requires time for public comment.

The applicant, Prodigal Sons & Daughters Behavioral Health Services LLC, requested to open up an in-patient treatment program for youth “struggling with addiction, criminal thinking and mild to moderate mental health issues,” according to the application.

The plans are to treat 26 patients at a time, most of whom would be referred to the facility by the Department of Juvenile Justice, applicants told the commission at Monday’s meeting.

The building currently houses The Rescue Mission, a faith-based ministry that provides long-term residential treatment programs and rehabilitation for homeless and alcohol or drug addicted men. It also helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

The ministry will relocate in the next 6 months to Zebulon Road in north Macon where the Hephzibah Children’s Home was once located.

Two new hotels were also approved by the commission.

A planned 140-room six-story Hyatt hotel at 620 Poplar Street will not be as big as some first thought.

New plans approved by the commission Monday call for five stories and 121 rooms.

On the north side off Bass Road, a four-story Tru by Hilton hotel with 101 rooms is planned behind Homewood Suites Hilton.

A lawyer representing the applicant, Durham, North Carolina-based Parks Hospitality, said the site “will primarily be serving people off the interstate.”

Laura Corley covers education news for The Telegraph, where she advocates for government transparency and writes about issues affecting today’s youth. She grew up in Middle Georgia and graduated from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.