A mixed-use project that would include commercial, retail and residential uses in downtown Macon was approved Monday despite opposition from members of the Intown Macon Neighborhood Association.
The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission voted 4-0 to rezone 781 Spring St. and a portion of 879 Rose Park from a historic commercial district to a planned development extraordinary district. Commission Chairman Kamal Azar recused himself from the discussion and voting because his architect firm designed the project.
A five-story development -- to be called The Lofts at Navicent Health -- would be built on a 1.53-acre site. The applicant is Jim Daws, owner of Macon-based Sierra Development, who has built and is currently building other similar developments in Macon.
“We are really excited to take a vacant parking lot and create a destination place,” Daws said.
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The first floor of the project will be 9,760 square feet and will include dining and retail facilities and a leasing office for residents. The second floor would be composed of offices and a fitness center reserved for the use of Navicent Health employees.
The top three floors of the development would include 60 one- and two-bedroom apartments. A parking deck will be built providing 102 parking spaces.
The residential units are expected to be filled by employees of Navicent Health or medical students, Daws said.
Gigi Cabell, who lives about a block away from the proposed development said the adjacent historic neighborhood would not receive any benefit from the project.
“We have been working for decades for owner-occupied (dwellings),” Cabell said. “The density is totally out of proportion. ... The design is not at all appropriate. ... It’s not what we are trying to do with histroic preservation. It is so completely at odds with everything else in Intown Macon.”
James Webb, president of the Intown Macon Neighborhood Association, agreed with Cabell and said the design looks like “cargo carriers with slanted roofs.”
“We have ugly parking garages and now we are getting ugly, ugly buildings,” he said. “Enough is enough. We are tired of (getting) bad developments.”
Webb said earlier the rezoning matter should at least be deferred because he didn’t see a sign on the property over the weekend stating plans to rezone the site.
An inspector was sent to the property during the meeting and discovered the sign was lying on the ground.
After checking with the commission’s lawyer, Executive Director Jim Thomas said the commission only has to post the sign at least 15 days prior to the meeting, which it did. He produced a photo of the sign in place. The commission cannot keep checking to make sure the sign remains in place, he said.
The commission did not discuss the issues raised by Cabell or Webb before approving the rezoning.
Daws said after the meeting he expected construction to begin Oct. 1 and take about 15 months to complete.
Other items on the agenda were:
ITEMS DEFERRED FROM JUNE 22 HEARING:
1625 Bass Road: Conditional use to allow a retail development (site 1 & 2), C-4 District. Michael Cohn, Lennar Commercial Investments LLC, applicant. Deferred to Aug. 10 meeting.
1625 Bass Road: Variance in parking requirements (2) and signage requirements, C-4 District. Michael Cohn, Lennar Commercial Investments LLC, applicant. Deferred to Aug. 10 meeting.
ITEMS DEFERRED FROM JULY 13 HEARING:
1771 Bass Road: Conditional use to allow site plan revision for a previously approved shopping center, PDE District. The Bishop Co., applicant. Deferred to Aug. 24 meeting.
300 Charter Blvd: Conditional use to allow a home health care office within an existing senior housing facility, PDE District. Tarrian Grant Burnett, applicant. Approved.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:
657 Hemlock St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of signage, CBD-2 District. Signal Signs of Ga. Inc., applicant. Approved.
145 Corbin Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of a roof with visibility from public right-of-way, HR-1 District. Seaborn Buchanan, applicant. Approved.
1191 Adams St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval for the removal of a rear addition associated with a rehabilitation tax credit project, HR-3 District, Intown Historic District. Margaret Eskew; Maryel Battin., applicant. (This item was an unadvertised walk on the 7-20-15 DRB). Approved.
893 Riverside Drive: In violation of Section 27.08 of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution with no progress made on the demolition, stabilization or reconstruction of said property. Satsang Sagar LLC. Given 30 days to clear up site.
6440 Houston Road: In violation of Section 27.08 of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution with failure to implement conditions of zoning compliance [13-1255]. B.J. Patel. Given 30 days to install a white vinyl fence.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223 or find her on Twitter @VaBorn06.