Pop up museum, riverside movies among winning ideas in Downtown Challenge

Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, announces the a $3 million Downtown Challenge grant at Terminal Station in January 2016.
Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, announces the a $3 million Downtown Challenge grant at Terminal Station in January 2016. wmarshall@macon.com

Spruced-up alleys, regular hot-rod shows, a minimuseum of curiosities, a mural and pop up yoga classes are among nearly two dozen ideas that are set to be brought to life in downtown Macon.

The 23 winners of the third round of the Downtown Challenge were announced Tuesday night at the Macon Beer Co. on Oglethorpe Street.

“We had 51 grant applications totaling $1.4 million,” said Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.

The foundation administered $430,000 in grant money for this round of ideas, making a total of $1.3 million it has administered since the challenge started in January 2016.

Painted pianos, the bike share program, bike racks and dog waste stations are among the fruits of past rounds of the Downtown Challenge.

The $3 million grant initiative is made possible by donations from the Peyton Anderson Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Winners of round three include:

▪  Apprenticeships for Proteges: $5,000. Youngsters with the Mentors Project of Bibb County will be paired with downtown business owners so they can gain experience working. Proteges will earn a stipend and the business owners will gain an extra pair of helping hands.

▪ Third Place Play: $8,500. Three familiar places will be transformed into destinations for fun on three different days. NewTown Macon plans to host themed events to highlight downtown sites such as a “Cherry Street Plaza Luau,” “Poplar Yards Field Day” and “Movie Night on the River.”

▪  Recruit Office Tenants to Downtown: $15,000. NewTown Macon will create an office recruitment program using national best practices, including a print guide and online office finder.

▪ Downtown Venture Fund: $10,000. A fund to be administered by New Town Macon will provide working capital to downtown entrepreneurial ventures that lack the assets needed to secure a traditional business loan. Business coaching will be included for applicants to help ensure success.

▪ Female Entrepreneurs Academy: $10,000. The Mercer Innovation Center will offer a series of workshops to empower Macon’s female entrepreneurs. This program is specifically geared towards women and will offer networking and business development opportunities.

▪  Development Dynamics in Downtown Macon: $60,000. A Kentucky-based consulting firm will evaluate downtown Macon and offer suggestions on how to make public investments that have a positive impact. CityVisions Associates, the planning firm owned by Weyland Ventures, also will help the Macon-Bibb County government make the most of development opportunities by helping with sequencing and coordination.

▪ Return of the Stag: $15,000. The Macon Arts Alliance will work to return a large stag statue to an empty concrete base on Mulberry Street and improve landscaping and lighting in the area.

▪  Macon365.com: $10,000. The Macon Arts Alliance proposes Macon365.com, a complete rebranding of the online community calendar, ultimately improving how the community accesses information about local events.

▪ Transportation Station Mural: $31,500. The Macon Arts Alliance will work with three artists and the Macon Transit Authority to create a permanent mural at the Terminal Station bus stop. The artists will get public input from bus passengers, residents and visitors at several meetings yet to be announced.

▪ Alley Designbook: $3,500. NewTown Macon will work with Wimberly Treadwell to create and promote a design book of low cost, basic specification alleyway improvements geared towards private investors.

▪ Poplar Lights Infrastructure: $60,000. NewTown Macon is partnering with Bryan Nichols to oversee the installation of extensive in-ground infrastructure on Poplar Street for year-round tree and landscape lighting as well as a Christmas audio and light show.

▪ First Friday Garage Meet: $5,000. A free antique and custom car show will be located in the Mulberry Street parking deck as a part of NewTown Macon’s First Friday events.

▪ Macon Sparks: $3,500. Sparks Yoga, LLC will draw folks downtown with a monthly “pop up” yoga event to be hosted at historic or underutilized sites downtown.

▪ The Wunderkammer: $18,000. The Museum of Arts and Sciences will soon have a presence downtown. A metal shipping container will be transformed into a pop-up museum of curiosities that will include solar-powered lights, windows and shelving units for display.

▪ Downtown Alley Activation: $10,000. The Downtown Macon Community Association will host events in different downtown alleys, such as markets, scavenger hunts, dance parties and a foodie tour.

▪ MORE Music in Public Places: $10,000. The Friends of Macon Music plans to continue their efforts by providing musicians with equipment and performance opportunities, with acoustic concerts throughout the urban core.

▪  Bernd Plein Air Art Park, Pt. 2: $69,000. AnT Sculpture and Design plans to continue its work to transform Bernd Park, at Magnolia and Spring streets, into an inviting art park. During the first round of grants last summer, the company received $35,000 to integrate a large ceramic sculpture with functional landscaping, a bridge, a slide and swings.

▪ Rose Hill Cemetery Digital & Print Map: $12,000. Historic Macon Foundation plans to design and print new maps of Rose Hill Cemetery. A digital map will be created to allow visitors to find points of interest.

▪ Expansion of Bragg Jam Concert Crawl: $25,000. Bragg Jam Inc. will kick off this year’s festival with a concert Friday night before the concert crawl starts July 29.

▪ Connections Arts Festival: $5,000. Pulse: Heartbeat of Macon will host a free, all-ages arts festival at the new Mill Hill auditorium in east Macon. The festival will feature curated art shows, live entertainment, performances, artistic activities and food vendors.

▪ “Your River” Forum and Paddle: $10,000. The Altamaha Riverkeeper will host a three-part forum at downtown businesses that use water to make beer. The series will promote the importance of ecological work and encourage recreational river use with a paddle down the river following each meeting.

▪ The Maconites: $14,000. Susannah Maddux and Maryann Bates will grow The Maconites project through its website and social media. The Maconites features personal profiles of downtown residents.

▪  Open Streets Macon: $20,000. Bike Walk Macon will promote civic engagement to help develop policies and infrastructures that encourage walking and biking. The money also will help pay for planning, promotion and evaluation costs of Open Streets Macon.

There will be three more rounds of Downtown Challenge grants. The deadline for the fourth round is Sept. 15 and applications are now being accepted. For more information, visit www.downtownchallengemacon.org.

The idea must benefit the area bound by Interstate 75, Emery Highway, Seventh Street and Little Richard Penniman Boulevard.

Laura Corley: 478-744-4334, @Lauraecor