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A $90 million downtown Macon development hinges on new parking garages being built

Architect, developer reveal more details about major project

The architect and developers provided the zoning commission more details about another portion of Phase I of Central City Commons. It will include lofts, retail space and a parking garage.
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The architect and developers provided the zoning commission more details about another portion of Phase I of Central City Commons. It will include lofts, retail space and a parking garage.

Construction could start this summer on a $90 million development that would bring new housing, retail and event space, parking decks and hotels to downtown Macon. The project also could bring more than 100 jobs and increased tax revenue.

Central City Commons, which has been three years in the making, received a significant boost Tuesday when a County Commission committee voted to add the project agreement to next week’s regular commission meeting agenda. The agreement would allow the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority to issue $20 million in bonds for the project.

That money would be used to finance two parking decks.

The construction of the parking garages is a lynchpin for the Central City Commons development that would include a Hyatt Place hotel on Poplar Street, another name brand hotel, residential lofts and 45,000-square-feet of retail and event space.

“This is a huge deal,” Mayor Robert Reichert said. “They’ve worked this out so that if all the pieces fit, we get $20 million worth of parking decks paid for without coming out of the general fund a dime.”

The bonds would be repaid through increased property tax revenue through the payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT program, as well as parking fees, according to the agreement.

The bond also would include up to $2.25 million to purchase the land for one of the parking decks, as well as, cover utility relocation costs, County Attorney Judd Drake said.

If given final approval by commissioners, another $1 million of Macon-Bibb’s special sales tax revenue will go toward stormwater and sewage improvements in the area.

The project is a joint venture of Tim Thornton, president of Thornton Realty Co., and Miller Heath III, CEO of MMI Capital LLC. Central City Commons would likely be completed by the start of 2021 if construction begins in June.

Heath and Thornton estimate the project will create about 150 permanent jobs and generate nearly $1 million annually in sales and hotel-motel tax revenue.

“When all of that is done it’s just over $90 million of development,” Heath said. “The portion that is triggered with parking decks is $67 million. That is the Hyatt Place, multifamily (housing) and retail at D.T. Walton. These three projects have to close at the same time, because none of them make any sense without the other one.”

Central City Commons would stretch from sections of Plum, Second, Poplar and First streets and D.T. Walton Sr. Way. It would feature:

  • Event spaces
  • Two new hotels including a 122-room Hyatt Place
  • 790 parking spaces in the Exchange Block and D.T. Walton decks
  • A distillery
  • 93 residential apartments
  • 30,000-square-feet of retail space

  • 15,000-square-feet for events

  • Renovations to downtown buildings, including the Market House, and the Newman, Thornton, and Crescent buildings.

The two parking decks would be owned by the Urban Development Authority and would have a total of 790 spaces.

They would be available to county employees and some Central City Common residents and businesses. Spaces also would be used for general public parking and for special events at places such as the Macon City Auditorium.

The Bibb County School Board also would need to sign off on the parking deck bonds being issued.

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