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Design of mixed-use development project in Macon hits snag

Macon’s planning and zoning commission agreed Monday that turning a vacant downtown building into offices and apartments is a good idea, but commissioners had an issue with the design.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a rezoning application for 1343 Georgia Ave. from a commercial district to a planned development district that would allow a mixed-use development.

The project also requires a conditional-use permit, which the commission deferred until the next meeting.

The development is planned in the former Putzel’s Lighting building, and it would include offices and two apartments on the first floor and 10 apartments on the second floor, said Michael Robinson representing the applicants, Billy Pitts and Stafford Construction.

There are no plans to change the exterior of the building.

“We are excited about it,” said commissioner Kamal Azar. “The rezoning is a nonissue. ... We want this to be done, but it should look like a place where people live.”

Azar and other commissioners said they were concerned about plans not to add windows to the apartments.

“We have never approved apartments without windows,” said Chairwoman Sarah Gerwig-Moore. The commission aims for consistency throughout neighborhoods, she said.

Commissioner Jeane Easom said she had been inside nearly every loft project downtown, and most everyone comments about the large windows.

“I would not rent one of these for six months without windows,” Easom said.

However, Robinson said, “We are trying to maintain the loft look and the loft feel ... with no windows,” which would add to the cost of the project.

The apartments would range from about 490 square feet to about 700 square feet, he said. They are modeled after example apartments set up in an Ikea store, he said.

“It’s a pretty nice project with open ceilings and exposed rafters,” Robinson said.

Gerwig-Moore said Robinson should not think the commission was against the project, but they wanted it to be appealing.

Other items on the agenda were:

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:

488 First St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow exterior modifications, CBD-1 District. Jeff Kressin, applicant. Approved.

423 Spring St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow exterior modifications, CBD-1 District. Chad Richardson, applicant. Approved.

1355 Calhoun St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to modifications to a pre-approved plan (1311-A), HPD-BH District. Carrie Robinson, Historic Macon Foundation, applicant. Approved.

1374 Calhoun St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow a new pre-approved plan, HPD-BH District. Carrie Robinson, Historic Macon Foundation, applicant. Approved.

2045 Vineville Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness design/materials of signage, HR-3 District. Vineville United Methodist Church, Jimmy Asbell Jr., applicant. Approved.

2020 Vineville Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow a fence, HC District. Michael Bailey, applicant. Approved.

VARIANCES:

2020 Vineville Ave.: Variance in height requirements of a fence, HC District. Michael Bailey, applicant. Withdrawn by staff.

SIGNS:

2045 Vineville Ave.: Variance in the number of signs, HR-3 District. Vineville United Methodist Church, Jimmy Asbell Jr., applicant. Approved.

RATIFICATION:

1600 Forsyth St.: Variance in required distance between an Electronic Graphic Display and a residential structure, C-2 District. OrthoGeorgia, Southern Graphic Design LLC, applicant. Approved.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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