A plan has emerged to save at least the exterior look of the historic Capricorn Records office in downtown Macon.
The Ocmulgee Land Trust, a spinoff of NewTown Macon, wants to raise money and start work soon, said Mike Ford, head of the land trust.
“We have actually purchased the Capricorn corporate office building and the two or three buildings next to it,” he said. “We’d like to ultimately sell the two buildings that are not Capricorn and put those proceeds into stabilizing and renovating the Capricorn buildings.”
It will probably cost $50,000 to $100,000 for initial stabilization work on the offices at 535 and 545 D.T. Walton Sr. Way, Ford said. He’s confident that will soon be raised.
“The entire project is probably $750,000, and we would be looking for an investor who would work with us to stabilize all the buildings,” Ford said.
An initial inspection found asbestos in the buildings, which will have to be removed “immediately,” Ford said. A full stabilization plan will probably be ready in 30 days, and 30 days after that work could start.
The work will be substantial, as Mayor Robert Reichert told Macon-Bibb County commissioners recently.
“Behind the façade of the building there is terrible dilapidation,” he said. In one, “the roof is in the basement.”
A fence has already been erected around the front of the buildings to guard against danger from falling pieces.
That was done on the instructions of Tom Buttram, director of the Macon-Bibb Business Development Services. Buttram looked over the buildings from a bucket truck and agreed the best option was probably to save the building facades and build a new interior.
An Oct. 17 report by Scott Pipkins, engineer for Pi-Tech Inc. of Macon, details the buildings’ condition. The two-story building at 545 D.T. Walton Sr. Way is in worse condition, with its roof and interior floors rotted and collapsed.
“Currently all that remains of the building are exterior and interior load-bearing masonry walls and the concrete basement slab,” Pipkins wrote. The remaining walls can be stabilized, but should only be used as a façade, bearing no load, the report says. Pipkins recommended bracing the walls with exterior steel beams while the interior is cleared.
On the smaller, tan building at 535 D.T. Walton Sr. Way, the roof and first floor are still in place, but the roof has some leaks, Pipkins found.
That’s caused the basement stairway to rot.
“The only required stabilization work for this building is to repair all roof leaks, particularly at the front right corner of the building,” Pipkins wrote.
The land trust is working closely with NewTown and board members of The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House to save the Capricorn office, Ford said. Reichert and Buttram have also been very helpful, he said.
The buildings were bought in 1965 by Phil Walden, Alan Walden and Otis Redding, owners of RedWal Music. They were the site of Capricorn Records’ office until its parent company went bankrupt in the 1980s. The two buildings were then bought by Alvin Hirsh, who unsuccessfully sought new occupants.
Hirsh had the Capricorn Records sign removed to save it. In June, he invited local officials and preservationists to tour the buildings. Saving only the exterior walls was mentioned as a possibility then.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.