New site for ‘Little Richard’ house under consideration

“Little Richard” Penniman’s house in Pleasant Hill could be relocated by the Georgia Department of Transportation, pending Macon-Bibb County Commission approval.
“Little Richard” Penniman’s house in Pleasant Hill could be relocated by the Georgia Department of Transportation, pending Macon-Bibb County Commission approval. wmarshall@macon.com

Some headway could soon be made in finding a new home for the Macon house where “Little Richard” Penniman, widely considered the “architect of rock ‘n’ roll,” was raised.

The Macon-Bibb County Commission’s Operations and Finance Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on an agreement to relocate the house from 1540 Fifth Ave. to roughly a half-mile away at 416 Craft St. The relocation is part of the mitigation in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood as the interchange improvements to Interstates 75 and 16 take place.

There is not a timeline for when the home will be moved, but there’s indication that it would start soon if the commission approves the agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.

The state will cover costs related to the move. Under the agreement, Macon-Bibb County would “maintain the Little Richard House as a neighborhood resource center,” the resolution said.

In an email, Floore said, “(Pleasant Hill mitigation) is actually in the first phase of the interchange improvements, which the (Macon Area Transportation Study) Committee just gave the green light for the construction contracts to be let in fiscal year 2016.”

About 25 homes from the community would be moved to new lots during the major construction project. GDOT has agreed to perform about $10 million worth of improvements around Pleasant Hill, including adding walls to buffer the noise from the interstate, building two parks and remodeling about two dozen residences. The agency also would refurbish some blocks with new asphalt, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.

The first phase of the interchange improvements involves widening I-16 from I-75 to Coliseum Drive as well as bridge upgrades. The next two phases stretch from I-75 around Hardeman Avenue to the I-16 interchange, and the reconstruction of the interchange, Floore said.

Estimates in late 2014 were that the overall project would cost about $300 million, with the federal government covering most of the interstate work and the state providing a match.

Committee to take up proposed coliseum, auditorium contract

A new contract that deals with who will manage the Macon Coliseum and City Auditorium is on Tuesday’s agenda of the Operations and Finance Committee.

The proposed five-year contract with Philadelphia-based Spectra comes after commissioners agreed this year to seek proposals from various firms to manage the buildings. In May, commissioners approved the start of contract negotiations with Spectra.

Spectra would cost the county $10,000 a month during the first year of the contract, with an up to 3.5 percent increase each year. The company, which manages more than 100 facilities worldwide, also could receive incentive-based payments.

The management firm handles the operations of the facilities, including booking shows and events while Macon-Bibb receives the revenues and covers deficits.

“Spectra, even in their meeting with the commission, showed an intense desire to manage and improve the facility and to increase the amount of events and shows,” Floore said. “They do have a focus on full transparency in working with Macon-Bibb County, and it’s in their contract to provide regular financial and event reports.”

Last week, a commission committee held off on voting to provide management group Noble-Interstate Management Group an additional $434,000 to cover expenses at the two facilities. Although Noble-Interstate will not remain the manager of the coliseum and auditorium, it will remain as manager of the convention center. That work is part of a separate contract.

County officials have said they want to see more money spent on renovating the facilities. An estimated $15 million in repairs is needed at the City Auditorium, which was built in the 1920s. The auditorium has been listed as a possible venue to receive money through a future special purpose local option sales tax.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph