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August 2014

Acknowledgements Thank you! College Hill Refresh: an update of our Master Plan for the College Hill Corridor was generously funded by a partnership between the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the Historic Macon Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the planning process by attending public meetings and sharing your input and ideas. You helped shape this updated plan for the Corridor. Thanks also to those who dedicated time and energy to participate in interviews and focus groups, smaller meetings, and the day-to-day details of the planning process. Ellen Banas Kevin Barrere Maryel Battin Beverly Blake Heather Bowman-Cutway Larry Brumley Ellen Byron Cynthia Canova Lori Cassidy Bill Causey Darnita Combs Molly Davis Nathan Dees Kathryn Dennis Jonathan Dye Andrew Eck Carl Fambro Edward Fletcher Chris Floore

Nigel Floyd Sylvester Freeland Major Mike Franklin Sarah Gerwig Ted Goshorn Javoski Harden Stephanie Harris Debra Harrison Stacey Harwell Melina Hettiaratchi Kaye Hlavaty Kaitlynn Jones Kelsey Jones Shirlynn Kelly Stephen Lawson Alex Leahy Josh Lovett Tony Lowden

Sam Macfie Jason McClindon Mary Beth McGahee Katherine McLeod Meagan McMillan Roz McMillan Elbert McQueene Walsetta Miller Alex Morrison JR Olive Nadia Osman Kalambur Panchapakesan June Parker Raymond Partolan Heather Pendergast Tim Regan-Porter Mayor Robert Reichert Yosi Rivero-Zaritzky Josh Rogers

Debra Rollins Essie Rushin Aaron Scherf Larry Schlesinger Debbie Schuchmann Andy Silver Tim Slocum Charise Stephens Allie Straka Jim Thomas Mercer President William D. Underwood Mark Vanderhoek Jessica Walden Judy Ware Virgil Watkins Julia Wood Joey Wozniak Aaron Zaritzky

Finally, special thanks to the institutions and organizations that graciously hosted meetings for the Master Plan Update: 567 Center for Renewal, Centenary Church, Cox Capitol Theatre, Historic Macon Foundation, Medical Center of Central Georgia, and Mercer University.

Planning Team Interface Studio LLC Scott Page, Principal Mindy Watts, AICP, Principal Caitlin Zacharias, Urban Designer & Planner Market + Main, Inc. Lakey Boyd, AICP, CEcD, Principal OpenPlans Frank Hebbert, Director

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Table of Contents Introduction Vision Purpose & Key Goals Planning Process Progress Report: Summary of Implementation Efforts & Successes Recommendations 1. The Basics: Clean, Safe & Branded 2. The Vibe: College Town Cool 3. The Connection: Cooling the Streets 4. The Environment: A City within a Park 5. The Look: Macon’s Historic and Urban Center 6. The Strong: Healthy Mind, Body & Community 7. The Biz: At Work in the Corridor 8. Next Steps

1 7 8 9 19 29 30 38 42 50 58 63 73 81

Introduction: Well Done, College Hill! Time to Set a New Agenda for the Corridor! A Little History: The Original Master Plan In 2008, the College Hill Corridor was historic and unique, but also a missing link between Mercer University and Downtown Macon. That missing link had, however, become a center of attention, as leadership at Mercer University and the City of Macon listened and then responded to the classroom research and recommendations of a group of Mercer students studying the challenges and opportunities of American cities in the 21st century. Galvanized by the students’ findings and recognizing that cooperation between town and gown could benefit both the University, which sought a “college town” vibe, and the City, which hoped to retain University graduates as residents and employees of Macon, then-Mayor C. Jack Ellis and Mercer President William D. Underwood together formed the College Hill Corridor Commission.

The key goals of the 2008 College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan were to:

Charged with strengthening connections between the University and Downtown, between people and place, and between students and community members, the College Hill Corridor Commission made an early decision to undertake a master plan for the Corridor. With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the Commission hired a consultant team led by Interface Studio to engage the community in a planning process that would establish a vision for the Corridor and an implementation program to achieve that vision.

>> Engage the community and build consensus around ideas for the future

>> Reconnect the area’s many amenities >> Create an urban design framework to guide future growth and investment in the area >> Calm traffic and encourage walking and biking >> Respect and honor the Corridor’s rich past >> Improve open space >> Add vitality and interest >> Build excitement about the University, Downtown, and Macon as a whole as a place to live, work, visit, and do business

Upon completion of the original Master Plan, the College Hill Corridor initiative received a second wave of generous and catalytic funding from the Knight Foundation – this time $5 million for plan implementation. The Knight Foundation identified two broad uses for the grant. Two million dollars were to fund the creation of the College Hill Alliance, a staffed organization to spearhead and oversee

efforts to make the plan’s recommendations a reality. Three million dollars were dedicated to the Knight Neighborhood Challenge (KNC) grant program. Administered by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the KNC grant program welcomed proposals from all community members interested in taking ownership of a piece of the plan and funded community-driven projects that advanced plan objectives, empowering residents and other stakeholders as active participants in the transformation of the College Hill Corridor. The combination of generous funding from the Knight Foundation, creative and dedicated staff at the College Hill Alliance, thoughtful oversight of the KNC grant program by the Community Foundation, and the seemingly endless energy and ideas from the community proved powerful. The Corridor has since been transformed through physical development and public realm improvements, community events and volunteerism.

Figure 1:


The College Hill Corridor began as an idea to connect Mercer University to Downtown Macon.

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Figure 2: When asked how life in the Corridor has changed since the original Master Plan, survey participants emphasized physical revitalization (green text) and community building (orange text) in the Corridor.

Figure 3: (Right) Incredible progress was made throughout the Corridor on recommendations including bike paths, branding, public art, and improvements to streets and parks.


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Sharrows for Cyclists Lofts at College Hill Dental office Agility & Yappy Hour at the Dog Park

Second Sunday Concert Series

Trees, Seating, Pavilion Painting & Trash Bins in Tattnall Square

Magnolia Street Soapbox Derby Pharmacy

Master Plan Implementation for Tattnall Square Park Mercer Village Lofts at Mercer Village Lofts Phase III

Pine Street Streetscape Tattnall Square Center for the Arts College Street Improvements New & rehabbed homes in Beall’s Hill

Mercer Medical’s Move Downtown



There’s a lot to be proud of, College Hill ...


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An Opportunity to Update: College Hill Refresh Five years since the completion of the original College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan, and with the funding for the College Hill Alliance and Knight Neighborhood Challenge grants nearly exhausted, the time is ripe to plan again. Once again, the College Hill Corridor Commission and College Hill Alliance envisioned a community-driven process full of new ideas shared by interested neighbors. Interface Studio was invited back to lead the planning process, this time with support from Market + Main to focus on jobs and entrepreneurship in the Corridor and OpenPlans to develop an online mapping tool for public engagement. The tasks for the College Hill Refresh, this update of the College Hill Corridor Master Plan, were as follows. >> Take stock of the progress made in the Corridor since the original Master Plan. >> Determine what worked, what didn’t, what was implemented, what wasn’t – and why. >> Identify and build upon elements of the original plan that are still relevant for inclusion in the update. >> Incorporate new topics of interest and concern to community members, and expand the reach of the plan to address those topics. >> Coordinate with other ongoing planning efforts, such as the Riverside Cemetery Master Plan currently underway.

Community members sharing their ideas and offering feedback at public meetings held during the planning process.



Vision The original vision for the College Hill Corridor holds true. As a community, the Corridor has embraced a revitalized future, taking BIG strides in creative placemaking and community spacemaking. With new development, beloved parks, public art, and a robust social calendar, your Corridor is alive with more places to go, more things to do, more people, more participation, and more positive energy. Indeed - more than ever before ...

the [COLLEGE HILL CORRIDOR] is: hip, historic, progressive, and united by a commitment to vibrant public spaces, balanced streets, sustainable growth, a viable local economy, and a healthier,

In Your Words

more prosperous future.

Great ideas from the community abounded and played a critical role in shaping the vision and recommendations of the plan. Here are just a few of the many ideas you shared:

need to support “We existing businesses. “




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Purpose & Key Goals The purpose of the plan remains the same: to build connections between people and places in Macon’s College Hill Corridor, filling in gaps to reinforce revitalization efforts Downtown, support sustainable growth in Corridor neighborhoods, and balance growth and development with investments in the public realm and shared community spaces that deepen people’s ties to each other and their roots in the Corridor, at Mercer, and in Macon as a whole.

The FOUR MAIN GOALS in updating College Hill Corridor Master Plan are listed below.

Remain true to the original plan, refreshing the five organizing themes of the original Master Plan [The Basics, The Vibe, The Connection, The Environment, and The Look] with new ideas for change.

Grow the plan to include new topics of interest and importance to the community, adding new themes that broaden the reach of the recommendations.

Stay connected to the community and broaden participation in the Corridor,

THE KIDS “ GETINVOLVED. “ LOVE “toWould see recycling

bins Downtown, in parks, & on Mercer’s campus.


ensuring that elements of the plan will resonate with all individuals and neighborhoods in College Hill.

Clarify roles and re-empower the community for sustained grassroots implementation, so that momentum and positive change can live on after the Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant program concludes and the College Hill Alliance sunsets.


Planning Process The planning process for the College Hill Refresh began in July 2013 and finished with a final plan in August 2014. Community input formed a cornerstone of the process, with multiple opportunities along the way for residents to help the planning team build upon recommendations from the original Master Plan and guide important new additions. These opportunities included discussions in interviews, meetings, and focus groups as well as interactive activities, including a survey, collaborative map, and public meeting exercises. The process kicked off in July with a trip focused on getting reacquainted. Interface Studio conducted 19 interviews with local stakeholders, including people from the City and County governments prior to the merger, the College Hill Corridor Commission, College Hill Alliance, Mercer University, the Knight Foundation and Community Foundation, Historic Macon Foundation, the Beall’s Hill Neighborhood Association, and a focus group with Mercer Students. Through the interviews and focus group meetings, the planning team caught up on progress and goings-on in the Corridor. Needless to say, we were impressed by all of the accomplishments in the Corridor!


The SURVEY, offered online and via hard copy, presented an opportunity to collect feedback from participants on a variety of topics, including their relationship with the Corridor (e.g., Where do you play/hang out in the Corridor?). One key question in the survey asked participants: How has life changed in the past five years since the Master Plan? Revitalization and community building were two strong themes that emerged in response to this question. Respondents commented on aesthetic improvements as well as physical changes and economic development, among others, and noted an overall increase in activity in the Corridor. Regarding community building, they described a “palpable change in the sense of community,� remarking on a more positive atmosphere in the Corridor, as well as more community spirit and participation. The survey also asked people to share their priorities for the future of the Corridor, and the planning team gathered over 150 responses to the survey, which was available to community members through the end of February 2014.

In September 2013, the College Hill Alliance announced the Master Plan Update to the community and opened up the community dialog. At the Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant announcement celebration, the College Hill Refresh formally launched a survey and a collaborative map.



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The COLLABORATIVE MAP, known as the College Hill Corridor Idea Map, made its

first appearance at the September 2013 meeting as well. The map asked community members to think of a new idea that would make a difference in the Corridor and tag it to a location on a giant 6-by-7-foot map with a numbered sticker. Participants wrote their idea on notecards with corresponding numbers, detailing their idea. In the weeks following the map’s debut, the College Hill Alliance brought the Idea Map to destinations, meetings, and events throughout the Corridor, collecting additional input from the people they encountered. To complement the Idea Map, OpenPlans launched an online version at a dedicated website called, which was also open through the end of February 2014. Throughout this period, the community shared over 230 ideas. Roughly onethird of these focused on business, with participants sharing ideas for businesses they would like to have in the Corridor, including additional everyday amenities, food-related businesses, and community/recreation facilities. Parks was the second most popular category of ideas, with thoughts shared on greening, amenities, and upgrades. Ideas for events, the third most popular category, centered on the arts, health, youth, and physical activity, among others.

(Above right) Participants adding to the Idea Map at the Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant announcement celebration in September 2013. (Below right) The online version of the Idea Map, launched by OpenPlans.

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Figure 4: Survey results about the range of Corridor residents who participated.


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Figure 5: Survey results about what residents love about living in the Corridor.

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Figure 6: Locations of ideas that participants shared in the online Idea Map at


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Figure 7: Business was the most popular category among Idea Map participants, with over one-third of ideas targeting this topic.

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The next public meeting took place in January 2014, and Interface Studio reported back to the community on progress made on the original Master Plan, focusing on its five original themes [The Basics, The Vibe, The Connection, The Environment, and The Look]. The team presented an overview of all that had been completed and shared a few new ideas, many of which were gathered from the Idea Map. The meeting also served as an opportunity to discuss ways to expand the original plan to include new themes. Interactive exercises asked people at the meeting to weigh in on specific ideas from the original Master Plan that were not yet implemented (i.e., should we keep, forget, or prioritize it?), and help refresh themes from the original plan by ranking new ideas that came from the Idea Map. Finally, participants shared thoughts on possible new themes for expanding the plan, including health, jobs, and broader participation by youth and residents from all neighborhoods. At the February 2014 public meeting, Interface Studio and Market + Main presented preliminary recommendations grounded in the ideas shared by the community throughout the process. Meeting attendees offered feedback on the preliminary recommendations through an interactive activity that asked them to select two recommendations most important to them, tag a recommendation that raised a question or concern for them, and also indicate which recommendation they would be interested in volunteering to implement.

(Left) Participants offering feedback and ideas at the public meeting in January 2014. Figure 8: (Right) Participant feedback from the February 2014 public meeting on which recommendations were most important to them.


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Planning Process Introduction



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To help build some of the new themes and recommendations, Interface Studio convened additional focus group meetings in February with Pleasant Hill stakeholders; health and medical professionals from the Medical Center of Central Georgia and other health facilities in Macon; and, teachers, school administrators, and youth service providers in the Corridor. Finally, the College Hill Corridor Commission met to vet the preliminary recommendations during Interface’s February trip to Macon. April 2014 marked the final meetings for the College Hill Refresh, with a session with the College Hill Alliance Steering Committee and a fantastic celebration hosted by the College Hill Alliance for all community members at the Cox Capitol Theatre. Thank you all for a fun process full of energy, commitment, and inspiring ideas!

Thank you all for a fun process full of energy, commitment, and inspiring ideas!

(Right) Photos from the April 2014 College Hill Corridor Report to the Community, where the recommendations for the College Hill Refresh made their debut. Figure 9: (Left) Participant feedback from the February 2014 public meeting on which recommendations they would most like to help with.

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Progress Report: Summary of Implementation Efforts & Successes The original College Hill Corridor Master Plan organized the recommendations into five themes, and much progress has been made making recommendations become reality:

1) The Basics: Clean, Safe & Branded In the original Master Plan, the goals of The Basics were to improve cleanliness and increase safety throughout College Hill, and thus improve public perceptions about the area. Beyond clean and safe streets, The Basics called for a recognizable brand for the Corridor that capitalizes on local history, vibe, and diversity. Overall, College Hill receives an A for The Basics, for great work on initiatives to make the Corridor cleaner, safer, and better branded. Only two of The Basics recommendations in the original plan did not move forward – all 13 of the others did! A sample of your collective successes includes:

• CLEAN: The Corridor welcomed composting, new recycling bins, and artful trash bins adorned with literary quotes and quotes from local school children.

• SAFE: The Alliance boosted coordination

with Mercer Police Department and the Macon-Bibb Sheriff’s Department, the police provided support for Neighborhood Watch, neighbors agreed to leave their porch lights on to better light the neighborhood, and trolleys provided safe rides back to campus after evenings in Downtown.

• BRANDED: The now famous College Hill swirls

are everywhere – on tote bags, on new wayfinding signs and banners, on bike racks – and new websites broadcast cultural events and area amenities, including


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Progress Report Introduction


2) The Vibe: College Town Cool The original intent of The Vibe was to make College Hill the center of creative expression in the region, infusing streets and structures with events, arts, and culture that would bring people together, build community, and generate excitement and positive energy about the changes taking place in the Corridor among Mercer students, faculty, and staff and residents, alike. Outstanding work by all! College Hill receives an A++ in implementing and innovating ideas under The Vibe: A+ for Arts & Events and A+ for Community Building. Again, as a community you brought nearly all of the recommendations proposed under The Vibe to fruition, and even better, you invented and ran with ideas of your own. A sample of your collective successes includes:


Corridor welcomed murals and bear statues to the local landscape, new events that have become beloved traditions such as the Magnolia Street Soapbox Derby and the Second Sunday Concert Series, festivals in Mercer Village, and more recently football and tailgating, Little Free Libraries, and the soon to open Tattnall Square Center for the Arts!


College Hill has also made great strides in strengthening the town-gown relationship since the original plan. Mercer expanded service learning projects and classes, brought sports and music for all to enjoy, and hosted special events and promotions designed to get students to explore Downtown, such as the Bike the Corridor Scavenger Hunt, the Downtown Get-Around,, Reunion Zero, and internships through Paint the Town Orange.


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Progress Report Introduction


3) The Connection: Cooling the Streets The goals of The Connection in the first Master Plan were to “cool the streets,” slowing traffic so that streets and sidewalks could become safer and more efficient for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Connection also emphasized the need to build a culture of walking and biking among people who live, work, and play in the Corridor, animating a more vibrant street life and supporting a healthier and more livable community. Public realm projects are time intensive and expensive; under The Connection, College Hill receives an A for effort and a P for patience required. Throughout the community, people see evidence of progress in making the streets safer for pedestrians and efforts to make space for cyclists. With the roundabout and street improvements at College and Oglethorpe Streets under construction, it is clear that this work is ongoing.

• PEDESTRIANS: People who live, work, worship,

learn, and play in the Corridor now enjoy new raised crosswalks at Mercer Village, pedestrian improvements to Pine Street in front of the Medical Center of Central Georgia, and smaller embellishments best observed when on foot, such as the expansion of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail through Riverside Cemetery. New crosswalks and sidewalks at Tattnall Square Park are also underway.


Implementing the bicycle recommendations met both success and frustration. The Corridor now has “sharrows” marking shared bike lanes and bicycle racks. Mercer’s Bear Bikes program, bicycle education, and discounts offered by area businesses to cyclists were steps to building a more robust bicycle culture, and that culture will be needed to advocate for and advance the bicycle recommendations still on the table.


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Progress Report Introduction


4) The Environment: A City within a Park In the original Master Plan, the section on The Environment focuses on the Corridor’s parks and tree canopy. With the goals of replanting, reseeding, and reinvesting in green spaces that flourish for all to enjoy, The Environment’s recommendations served to reinforce Macon’s history as a “City within a Park,” defined by a lush local landscape and network of natural open spaces. Again, outstanding work by all, and the Friends of Tattnall Square Park in particular! College Hill receives an A for WOW and an E for all the energy that went into planning, plantings, and leadership to effect such transformative change. Like the public realm recommendations under The Connection, some of The Environment recommendations have been slower to move forward, but the progress is visible, beautiful, and still unfolding. A sample of your collective successes includes:

• TREES: Friends of Tattnall Square Park planted

more than 200 new trees throughout the park, the Corridor has a Tree Ordinance in progress, and more than 100 new street trees line Oglethorpe and College Streets. The Corridor has grown greener!

• PARKS: Tattnall Square Park has undergone

wonderful community-driven transformations, and changes continue to unfold in keeping with the park’s own master plan. The park has new seating areas, an improved playground and refreshed gazebo, and will soon have new art and arches at all four corners, which invite visitors to explore the restored historic path network and new fountain at the center of the park. Macon Dog Park has new agility equipment and landscaping, and Daisy Park has a re-design plan, though it has yet to be implemented. New trail connections will better link Riverside Cemetery with the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail in years to come.


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Progress Report Introduction


5) The Look: Macon’s Historic & Urban Center The goals of The Look in the first Master Plan focused on development and filling in gaps in the urban fabric to infuse the Corridor with a greater range of uses and activity. The Look was also about balance – respecting the area’s historic character and beautiful architecture, while introducing new housing and commercial services to serve existing and future residents. High marks again! College Hill receives an A+ for the major transformations achieved. The community has grown in a sustainable way to welcome new buildings, housing, and businesses, and only one recommendation from the original Master Plan was left unfinished. A sample of your collective successes includes:

• DEVELOPMENT: Two phases of the Lofts at

Mercer Village, with another in progress and additional rental housing being built behind the Post Office at The Lofts at College Hill, new businesses and restaurants in Mercer Village, and the addition of a dental office and pharmacy set an impressive pace for commercial infill and development in the Corridor in the first five years following the original Master Plan. Design guidelines and a zoning update for the Corridor are in progress.

• SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY: To ensure that the Corridor remains a place people where want to live, work, and play, the College Hill Alliance has been hard at work on small business attraction, and Historic Hills & Heights, through Historic Macon, has introduced new homes for a mix of incomes – as well as green homes for those who choose to live more lightly on planet Earth.

Congratulations, College Hill! You’ve tackled every element of the plan and progressed leaps and bounds throughout the Corridor, which brings us to … what next?!


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Progress Report Introduction


Updated Recommendations The five themes that organized the recommendations in the original College Hill Corridor Master Plan frame recommendations in this update of the Master Plan too. In the College Hill Refresh, The Basics, The Vibe, The Connection, The Environment, and The Look each include a blend of old ideas carried over from the original plan because they are still relevant, or still in progress, plus a range of new ideas and strategies to guide the next round of implementation efforts in the Corridor. In light of the community’s shared successes in plan implementation, the Refresh has also grown – stretching to include two new themes, or categories of recommendations, that reflect topics of interest, concern, and importance in our community – The Strong: Healthy Mind, Body & Community and The Biz: At Work in the Corridor. Each recommendation has a What and a Why. The What is a succinct action step outlining what should happen to make the recommendation become reality. The Why explains the context or logic behind each recommendation, why the idea matters or would benefit the future of the Corridor. As in the original Master Plan, all of the recommendations are community-driven, culled from the ideas you shared on the Idea Map, conversations during focus groups and interviews, and feedback offered at the meetings hosted for this update of the Master Plan. The plan belongs to the community of people who live, work, play, learn, and worship in the Corridor, and as such, the recommendations in the College Hill Refresh emphasize broader participation across all neighborhoods and ages. As you read through the recommendations in the following sections, keep an eye out for your ideas and keep your mind open to inspiration that motivates you (along with friends and neighbors) to take on a project and help make the Refresh a reality.


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The Basics: Clean, Safe, and Branded In keeping with the original Master Plan, the recommendations that fall under The Basics call for clean and safe streets throughout the Corridor as well as branding and visual cues that help people know when they arrive or find themselves in the midst of the Corridor. Thanks to the community’s efforts and the work of the College Hill Alliance, the Corridor is indeed cleaner, safer, and more beautiful, and the College Hill Corridor brand is EVERYWHERE. New action strategies seek to build on the community’s progress to date and find ways to make that progress sustainable and permanent for years to come.

1: The Basics




1.1 Increase usage of See Click Fix What: See Click Fix is an online platform in which users can report non-emergency issues (e.g,. fallen tree, street cleaning needed, etc.) anonymously to local government using their computer or through a mobile app. The more use the website gets, the greater the public response will be. To increase usage, raise awareness about the platform among residents and incoming students, link to the site on, and encourage residents to keep their eyes open and their fingers ready to file a complaint for the record. Why: Fostering communication between residents and local government creates a positive feedback loop: the community is empowered through an accessible platform to voice concerns and issues, and the City-County is more tuned in and able to respond to the finer-grained issues occurring on the ground.


1.2 Set up a 311 call-in service to connect

neighbors without internet to the City-County What: 311 is a service like 911, providing a direct telephone hotline to a city government or organization, except that while 911 is an emergency hotline, 311 is for reporting non-emergency issues, much like the complaints that SeeClickFix is designed to field online. A 311 call connects to a centralized call center, which can more efficiently dispatch the appropriate agency or responder to address the issue, thus making it easier for neighbors to call in non-emergency problems in their community.

Why: 311 would supplement the online SeeClickFix portal as an off-line alternative to reaching local government. If a countywide 311 proves difficult, a similar service could be set up directing calls to the proposed Special Improvement District (see Recommendation 1.16).

Increase options for involved citizens to report non-emergency issues.


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1.3 Reach out and recruit Recyclebank to

incentivize recycling in the Corridor and support local businesses at the same time What: Recyclebank is a program that encourages household recycling through a points-based incentive program in which points earned for the volume of weekly recycled materials can be redeemed for rewards such as gift cards or discounts on groceries, among others. Local and national businesses can sign up as rewards partners interested in attracting customers. Local schools can benefit too, as Recyclebank participants can also donate their points to a local school for use toward a “green” project proposed by the school. Why: InTown residents can participate in Macon-Bibb County’s single stream recycling program, throwing all recyclable materials except for glass into one bin for weekly pickup. Recyclable materials include paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and jugs, and aluminum, steel, or tin-plated cans. An incentive program, like Recyclebank, which incentivizes recycling by providing rewards associated with volume of recycled materials, would increase participation, and thus divert materials from the waste stream, lessening municipal landfill costs and accumulation. Recyclebank partners with municipalities to provide collection and hauling services, thus saving the City-County dollars in that respect too.

How Recyclebank works. Source:

1: The Basics


1.4 Bring e-cycling to campus to facilitate upcycling and safe disposal of electronics

What: Host an e-cycling event on campus to create a convenient opportunity for students, faculty, administrators, and neighbors to recycle electronic waste, which in some cases can be refurbished and up-cycled for community residents in need of affordable computers or other technology items. Why: Not all recyclable items are eligible for ordinary recycling, and some such items hold great re-use potential. Computers, televisions, and other electronics contain hazardous materials that must be properly disposed of. An e-cycling event can ensure proper waste disposal while also culling salvageable electronics for repair and re-use by people in the community.


1.5 Make recycling possible in parks and public spaces

What: Launch an Adopt-A-Recycling Bin program to facilitate recycling in parks and public spaces. Why: If recycling is convenient, people will recycle. This community-proposed idea calls for the addition of recycling bins in public spaces like Tattnall Square Park. The individual or group that “adopts” each bin would be responsible for collecting the recyclables and putting them out on the appropriate day for collection along with household items.

Make recycling more convenient and worth the effort.




1.6 Heighten the sense of public safety through increased public presence in the Corridor

What: Launch a “Walkshare” listserv where people can find walking buddies and travel home in groups after hours. The listserv would be an online forum in which students or neighbors could post their departure time and end location in order to find a walking buddy, for example, from the Law School Library at closing time to the Lofts at College Hill. Why: Students and residents express safety concerns regarding walking alone at night in the Corridor. Law enforcement data confirms that much of the Corridor is in fact quite safe, but when the streets are deserted and lacking any foot traffic, they can feel unsafe and compound perceptions about crime. A buddy system, coupled with other improvements discussed below, will help increase security for pedestrians at night.

Example of how the listserv could function to coordinate walking buddies in and around campus and throughout the Corridor.



1.7 Increase police accessibility and communication through technology

What: Create a Twitter feed for police and security forces in the Corridor. Twitter is a popular online platform for short 140-character posts, and is therefore a quick and easy way to keep residents informed. Police in municipalities around the country are adopting Twitter as a tool for outreach and information sharing when an incident occurs. Residents can also tweet tips to police if they witnesses an incident. For those concerned with anonymity, an online submission form or phone number to text could serve as an alternative. Why: This platform creates the opportunity for an easy exchange between residents and the law enforcement. In doing so, it empowers the local community with current information and connects the police to sources of information to which they may otherwise not have had access.

Tweet from early Twitter adopter, Philadelphia Police Department Detective Joseph Murray.


1.8 Launch a lighting initiative to brighten the

Corridor, its parks, and nearby residential areas at night What: Install pedestrian fixtures on both sides of the Corridor’s main streets, and upgrade all fixtures to use LED lights, which are brighter and longer-lasting. The original Master Plan also suggested undertaking an LED yard lighting program, which could supplement street lighting in residential areas and improve the overall nighttime character of the Corridor. LEDs require little maintenance and are cost-effective if purchased in bulk. Why: Nighttime lighting is still lacking along the segments of the Corridor’s streets and sidewalks. Students and residents express safety concerns, in particular when walking at night or in the early morning en route to school during the winter months. A lighting initiative should target areas where people are frequently on foot at these times.

Neighbors can use solar-powered LED lights as a costeffective way to light trees, walls, lawns, and sidewalks.

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D E D N A BR 1.9 Market the Corridor to potential new neighbors in the region and beyond


What: Coordinate with the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to promote the Corridor as a place to visit and live. Ideas proposed by residents include a “Welcome Mat” package of information for new or potential new neighbors and invitations for visitors to take a neighborhood or house tour led by resident volunteers. Outreach should also be improved within Macon-Bibb County, targeting North Macon and other surrounding areas with messages about the benefits of living in the Corridor. Why: Home to some of Macon’s premier neighborhoods and major institutions, the Corridor should be featured by the CVB not only as a fantastic place to visit and explore while in Macon, but also as a wonderful and affordable place to consider calling home with a gorgeous housing stock and tight-knit community. Attracting new residents who choose to relocate to Macon from out of town will contribute to the vibrancy of the community and support the local economy. Closer to home, North Macon is nearby but can feel a world away from the Corridor, and many of its residents rarely if ever visit the College Hill Corridor. Furthermore, some large employers in North Macon, attracting new hires and talent to the region, do not present the Corridor to people moving to the region as a desirable place to live and a vibrant community to call your own. Targeted outreach to larger employers in particular, but also in inner-ring suburban residential areas and commercial hubs, should invite people to come and experience the Corridor and see for themselves that it is a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

1: The Basics

1.10 Market all of the Corridor’s assets, including its schools

What: Update and distribute the Live-Work-Play-Learn in the Corridor fact sheet that outlines key facts and advantages to living, working, and playing in the Corridor. Featuring local schools, both public and private, the one-pager fact sheet also emphasizes opportunities for learning and thus increase the area’s appeal to families with children.


Why: The Live-Work-Play-Learn fact sheet serves as a resource for prospective residents, in particular families with children considering re-locating to the Corridor.

1.11 Pursue new methods to spread the word about all that happens in the Corridor


1.12 Build pride in and awareness about the

local housing stock with home and garden tours What: Invite Corridor residents and other Macon residents to be tourists in their hometown for a day by taking part in home and garden tours, much like the InTown Christmas Tour and the Hay House Garden Tour. New tours could feature a different Corridor neighborhood each time, or hop from neighborhood to neighborhood, covering homes throughout the Corridor. Promote these tours heavily as opportunities to experience the quality of life in the Corridor. Why: House tours will foster hometown pride and allow both newcomers and long-time residents to learn more about their neighbors, the neighborhoods, and the quality of life in the Corridor.

What: Launch a contest that calls for artists to create flyers marketing events in the Corridor, much like the posters designed for the Second Sunday Concert Series. Flyers marketing the Corridor should showcase the unique and vibrant goings-on to Macon residents, both within and outside the Corridor, and visitors. Also, use Mercer Radio to spread the word about events and programming in the Corridor and broadcast important updates on improvements, like, “The roundabout is done, come take a spin!” Why: Contributions by various artists will promote the unique and energetic identity of the Corridor and highlight its artist community. Radio can serve as another avenue to supplement visual outreach efforts, and with its web platform, can reach listeners near and far.



1.13 Recruit business owners and patrons

alike to launch a “Love your Local Businesses” campaign What:

Ideas include the following:

>> Invite local artists to create a Buy Local logo, and create stickers for businesses to give out to customers. >> Work with merchants to post hours and menus on their websites and optimize their search results to maximize web traffic or compile menus on a single website, such as >> Encourage more consistent hours in Mercer Village for greater predictability for people interested in visiting for lunch or dinner year-round; encourage all neighbors to do their part and show their support for local businesses. >> Encourage customers to write detailed reviews on Yelp or another online platform to help entice visitors or passersby on the Interstate to stop for a bite to eat in the Corridor.


1.14 Install more public art throughout the Corridor

What: The possibilities for public art are limitless! Some ideas, many of which you suggested, include: >> Motion-activated audio artworks >> Chalkboard walls that invite community members to engage and share, like artist Candy Chang’s “Before I Die…” walls >> Murals >> Installations >> Bright orange College Hill swirls and painted in key locations throughout the Corridor >> Poetry on posts along Ocmulgee River >> Festive lights in alleys or along porches, fences and yards. Why: Public art celebrates local art and culture, which in turn fosters community and collective identity. It also creates buzz and enhances safety through increased visibility and activity.

Why: A local businesses campaign will help support existing businesses and help foster an environment friendly to local businesses, which in turn could attract additional businesses to the Corridor.

(Top) Public art that invites interaction by Candy Chang. (Bottom) Alley lit with decorative lights.


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1.15 Improve gateways to the Corridor at

Riverside Drive and other exits from the Interstate What: Gateway improvements could come in the form of public art such as murals, signage, lighting, or landscaping. Why: For residents, the gateways to College Hill are the front door to their home community, and for visitors, they are a split second introduction to what the community is about. As it stands, some entrances to College Hill do not do justice to the vibrant and collaborative community that resides in the Corridor. For example, the intersection of Riverside Drive and College Street needs a strong visual announcement that you are entering the College Hill Corridor.

Figure 10: (Top) Diagram of existing conditions at Corridor gateway at the intersection of Riverside Drive and College Street. (Bottom) Opportunity for mural or signage along retaining wall.

1: The Basics



1.16 Form a College Hill Corridor Special Improvement District

What: A Special Improvement District (SID) invests in public maintenance, public safety, and branding with the aim to support and revitalize a given community. For College Hill, this district would be a partnership between local institutions, small businesses, and residents. Funding can come from local institutions, including Mercer University and the Medical Center of Central Georgia, among others, instead of an additional tax or fee to property owners. In turn, local institutions will benefit from an improved physical environment, which helps reduce the cost in recruiting and retaining employees and students, customers and patients.

Why: The goal of a special improvement district is to revitalize its local community and its local economy. Institutions, businesses, and residents, alike can benefit greatly from the improvements to safety and the public realm, branding, and programming. In addition, the district can hire locally, creating jobs within the Corridor to staff the maintenance, security, and programming teams. The district also presents an opportunity to pool resources for shared services, for example through a security partnership between Mercer and the Medical Center. As demonstrated by the University City District in Philadelphia, a SID can provide many of the functions currently provided in the Corridor by the College Hill Alliance, and could therefore be a mechanism for sustaining existing programs and services over time. See Recommendation 8.1 for more details.


In Philadelphia’s University City, UCD provides programming, creates and maintains new public spaces, supplements public safety efforts, and hires locally to create jobs in the community.


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The Vibe: College Town Cool As in the original plan, The Vibe’s recommendations encourage community engagement by creating an enriched sense of place. People LOVE the busy calendar of fun and eclectic community events that have taken root in the Corridor. College Hill should write the textbook on building buzz and excitement through community placemaking, so the College Hill Refresh offers new action strategies that provide ideas for more and different events as well as free and low-cost ideas that anyone can adopt, run with, and most importantly, have FUN with.

1: The Vibe 2: Basics


G N I M M A + S R G T O N R E V P E * 2.1 Organize more festivals, concerts, initiatives, and other events in the Corridor

What: The new ideas suggested by community members during the planning process for the College Hill Refresh included a whole slew of great new ideas for special events and initiatives in the Corridor. Like the once-new events that have become traditions (such as the Magnolia Street Soap Box Derby and the Second Sunday Concert Series), these proposed events and initiatives reflect the spirit of the community and the Corridor’s willingness to try new things and capitalize on both the cultural and physical assets. The community-driven ideas also recognize that local youth are important communitymembers and event-goers.

>> Host festivals along themes like arts and crafts that showcase local makers, food trucks, international communities, the seasons, music, and theater. >> Encourage concerts that offer outdoor orchestral productions, showcase up-and-coming artists, and bring more live music to the Corridor. >> Pilot initiatives like the One Book/One City reading project, in which people of all ages are encouraged to read – and discuss – one book each year. >> Cultivate a calendar of kid-friendly events like children’s storytelling, field trips for children, kidfriendly movies in Tattnall Square Park, and back-toschool street parties. >> Bring other events and activities to the Corridor, like pop-up mini golf, the Diner en Blanc Pop Up Picnic, Park(ing) Day, Segway tours, and additional events in the cemeteries such as stargazing or yoga.


2.2 Evaluate the possibility of restoring and

reopening the Bobby Jones Performing Arts Center What: The Bobby Jones Performing Arts Center, located across the street from the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center in Pleasant Hill, is vacant and deteriorating. This past year, STONE Academy partnered with College Hill Alliance and Mercer students who spent their community service hours helping to clean out and stabilize the structure and surrounding property. Next steps should be to conduct a feasibility study for building rehabilitation and explore programming options for future building uses that meet neighborhood needs. Why: High levels of poverty in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood translate to high levels of need. Community leaders in Pleasant Hill have a strong interest in seeing the Bobby Jones Performing Arts Center, named for Dr. Bobby Jones, the first African American to earn tenure as faculty at Mercer University, restored and reopened to serve neighborhood children with cultural and educational programming in walking distance.

Why: These suggestions build upon the many fun and eclectic events that have already taken root in the Corridor. Special events and initiatives are a key feature of the community’s vitality; they draw residents, students, and visitors together, and they encourage public engagement, which generates still more buzz and excitement throughout the Corridor.

The One Book/One City program invites all community members to read a chosen text each year and then come together to discuss and share thoughts on the book at special events organized over the course of a month or so.


(Right, clockwise from upper left) Food truck rally, temporary Park(ing) Day transformation of a parking space to a park space for a day, storytime in the park, concert in the park.

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2: The Vibe



N W O G + N TOW The original Master Plan contained many ideas aimed at breaking down barriers between town and gown to help Mercer students feel more connected to Macon and the community feel more connected to the University. The following new ideas, proposed by teachers, administrators, and youth advocates in the community, focus on local youth in particular and on building connections for them at Mercer University.


2.3 Continue to build connections between college students and younger students

What: Mercer students represent a substantial population of young, service-minded people poised to become valuable mentors to the area’s youth. Connect these groups in meaningful exchanges such as the following: >> Offering service hours / tutoring >> Promoting on-campus summer programs, including camps >> Hosting a Mercer Community Pool Day Why: Children build relationships through fun activities, and activities led by Mercer students can provide windows into college life, learning opportunities, and pathways to longer-term friendships between College Hill youth and Mercer role models.



2.4 Keep local primary and secondary schools informed about College Hill events


What: Ensure that local primary and secondary schools, both public and private, feel at home in College Hill and at the college campus in particular by:

to visit and experience Mercer University

What: Continue to provide tickets for area youth organizations to events at Mercer.

>> Sending invitations to all schools for every familyfriendly event hosted in the Corridor, such as festivals in Mercer Village, free educational opportunities, and cultural activities >> Seeking collaboration from Mercer faculty in designing walking field trips, such as those organized by Communities in Schools Why: Community-oriented events and customized walking field trips to Mercer University will introduce atrisk high school students or youth who might be the first person from their family to attend college to Mercer’s campus, helping them feel comfortable, piquing their interest in college classes, and inviting them to envision themselves as college students.

2.5 Create opportunities for neighborhood youth


Why: Residents and youth program leaders have expressed a strong interest in increasing the opportunities and activities available to youth in the Corridor. The Athletic Department currently offers tickets to youth organizations to Mercer sporting events, however partnerships should expand to include other departments in the University. The new Tattnall Square Center for the Arts represents a great opportunity to extend this practice of donating tickets to encourage attendance by local youth.

2.6 Encourage college students to explore cultural opportunities off-campus What:

Offer Student Night discounts at cultural spots.

Why: This recommendation from the original Master Plan was suggested again by community members during the effort to update the plan. Most local institutions offer a reduced price ticket for students with a valid ID card. However, this is often not enough to encourage visits (or returning trips) by students. Many cities and cultural venues have experienced benefits by offering free nights for students, including increased spending in local restaurants and bars and increased exposure and visits to the venues themselves.

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The Connection: Cooling the Streets

The Connection’s recommendations are still about improving the safety of roads in the Corridor for people traveling on foot or by bicycle, by car or otherwise. Much progress has been made in implementing the original Master Plan’s set of recommendations for cooling the streets, but these recommendations take time, and there is still more to do to foster calmer streets and new connections in the Corridor. New action strategies echo the importance of recommendations in the original plan, pushing for a more walkable, bikeable Corridor, and taking on new territory and ideas too.

2: The Connection 3: Vibe




3.1 Continue investments in pedestrian

3.2 Focus investments in sidewalks and crosswalks

What: Install pedestrian countdown signals at all signalized intersections. Widen existing sidewalks for a more comfortable pedestrian experience where possible, and expand the sidewalk network in Beall’s Hill.

What: Make it safer and more popular for kids to walk to school and to local commercial hubs, such as Mercer Village.

infrastructure to foster a more walkable Corridor

Why: Countdown signals tell pedestrians, young and old, when it is safe to cross and how many seconds they have to cross the intersection. Beyond crosswalk improvements, sidewalks in the Corridor require upgrades too. The width of the sidewalks varies throughout the Corridor from less than four feet in some locations to eight feet in others. All sidewalks should be at least five feet wide, but any opportunity to widen the sidewalks and provide more space to pedestrians should be explored. This can be done in several ways: reducing lane sizes, removing parking during streetscape or roadway projects, or requiring future development to be set back slightly further from the roadway. Priority streets for sidewalk widening include: College Street, Georgia Avenue, Washington Street, and Magnolia Street.

along key routes where kids walk to school

Why: Making sidewalks wider, building new sidewalk segments to improve connectivity, providing more landscaping, improving lighting, and creating unique crosswalks that stand out will all encourage youthful pedestrian activity and get drivers to slow down in the presence of children. Incentive programs are another way to encourage children to walk. Programs that offer incentives, whether they be an iTunes gift card or a Get-Out-of-Homework pass, will get kids excited about walking and wanting to do it.


3.3 Introduce the Corridor to Open Streets events to temporarily reclaim streets as public space for people, not vehicles

What: Open Streets events, growing in popularity around the world, temporarily close off streets to traffic to allow for walking, biking, and other activities, including games, dancing, yoga, and small markets. Why: Much of the public realm is dominated by automobiles. Open Streets events expose residents to the inherent value streets possess as public spaces for people, not just cars, and provide another opportunity to bring people together to have fun at a free and unique urban event in the Corridor.

In other places, sidewalks do not exist at all. For example, while sidewalks have been installed in parts of Beall’s Hill in concert with investments in the housing stock, many neighborhood streets are still without them.

(Left) Piano crosswalk in Milwaukee (source: OnMilwaukee. com) and hopscotch crosswalk in Baltimore. (Right, clockwise from top left) Open Streets events in Minneapolis, Halifax, logo from Fort Collins, and Chicago.


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3: The Connection




Community members recognize that the cemeteries along Riverside Drive are a gateway to the Corridor and an important link to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. There is a strong desire among residents and other stakeholders to ensure that the cemeteries are a well-integrated and accessible part of the Corridor. What: Work with Georgia Department of Transportation on a corridor study for Riverside Drive, the eastern approach to the College Hill Corridor. Advocate for a signalized intersection at Madison Street to improve safety at the entrance to Riverside Cemetery, and explore changing the circulation pattern to a one-way entrance at Madison Street and one-way exit at College Street, linked by Jones Street Lane, which is an underutilized alley that

Replanted Slope Figure 11:


Figure 1

3.4 Improve connections to and through the

Multi-Use Trail

Vegetative Bioswale

should be widened and improved (see Figure 12 inset). Build a multi-use trail along Riverside Drive (see Figure 11) to link the Corridor with the cemeteries and Ocmulgee Heritage Trail network. Why: A corridor plan focused on Riverside Drive and considering land use as well as transportation is necessary to guide the long-term future of this main arterial into the College Hill Corridor and Downtown Macon. Rose Hill and Riverside cemeteries are accessible from Riverside Drive, yet the throughway presents numerous challenges, including: a high volume of traffic, a lack of traffic lights at the intersection with Madison Street, and a lack of signage at the intersection with College Street. The entrances to

the cemeteries themselves are unwelcoming due to steep grade changes, and many of the properties immediately adjacent to the cemeteries are underutilized, distressed, or expressing little relation to the street. Riverside Drive is also a huge obstacle for pedestrians and bicyclists who want to access Riverside Cemetery, Rose Hill Cemetery, and the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, as it lacks pedestrian or bicycling amenities.

Existing Berm


Proposed multi-use trail atop existing drainage swale, to run adjacent to the cemeteries along Riverside Drive. Source: Stantec

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Figure 12:

Issues along Riverside Drive, which make crossing the street to gain access to the cemeteries and area trails difficult and dangerous.

One suggestion for improving access to Riverside Cemetery is to change the circulation pattern.

3: The Connection


FOR CYCLISTS * * 3.5 Increase bicycling infrastructure

3.6 Increase awareness and advocacy of cycling

In comparison to the typical costs associated with roadway infrastructure, the cost of bicycling infrastructure is relatively inexpensive. Infrastructure serves two purposes: it gives bicyclists a sense of priority on the road, and it also alerts drivers to expect bicyclists and change their behavior accordingly. The “sharrows” represent progress, but the following recommendations will help empower and encourage cyclists in the Corridor.

What: Start a local advocacy group to help coordinate and host special cycling events such as Critical Mass group rides or Full Moon Bike rides and facilitate a bicycle education campaign.

What: Integrate bike boxes at intersections and create more dedicated bike lanes. Why: Residents report that there is interest in cycling in the Corridor, but many people refrain because they are scared or timid about cycling local streets. Bike boxes restore space, priority and safety to bicyclists at signalized intersections. They allow bicyclists to move ahead of the vehicle stop bar and thus make themselves more visible. Bike boxes should be provided at all signalized intersections that are being re-striped with bike lanes. Bike lanes instill a sense of safety in bicyclists by creating space only for their use and making cars aware of their presence.

Why: In addition to physical bicycle infrastructure, College Hill needs to build organizing capacity to push for more bicycle-friendly streets and grow the local biking culture through events and education. Regular events and an education campaign will provide opportunities for people to ride together, learn more about biking, and further showcase it as a commonplace activity. In addition to garnering support for and spreading information on cycling, a local advocacy group can welcome feedback and suggestions from the community regarding current and future developments to bicycle infrastructure and programs. Georgia Bikes is poised to serve as a partner or resource in bicycle advocacy and implementing bicycle improvements.


3.7 Offer incentives to ride bikes What: Offer free or affordable bike rentals off campus. Form partnerships with area bike stores to provide discounts for bike renters and members of the local cycling advocacy group when one emerges. Offer discounts or promotions on bike lights or other safety equipment for students. Why: Community bike rentals will encourage cycling and exploration of the Corridor and make biking more accessible to the broader community as well as visitors to College Hill. Discounts at bike shops would encourage people to bike to local businesses, enhance the sense of belonging within the local biking culture, and increase sales volume at local businesses that agree to participate. Bicycle lights are an important safety feature for both new and experienced riders.

(Right, clockwise from top left) Critical Mass group bike ride in Baton Rouge, off-street bicycle greenway, bike lane leading to bike box at signalized intersection, and dedicated bike lanes in Austin’s university district.


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3: The Connection


FOR EVERYONE * * 3.8 Add walking/biking trails in the Corridor

What: Create a cross-country trail or greenway from Mercer into Macon, connecting Mercer Village and Mercer University with Tattnall Square Park, The Lofts at College Hill, Pleasant Hill, Riverside Drive, the cemeteries and ultimately the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. The expansion of the Interstate will create an opportunity for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to build a portion of this trail segment, where it cuts through Pleasant Hill. Why: Public input indicated an interest in a crosscountry trail as well as more off-street bike trails in College Hill proper. One important piece of the proposed trail in College Hill involves Pleasant Hill, where GDOT will cap the creek to create a walking/biking trail with a sound barrier. This will be part of the expansion project for Interstate 75, which is set to begin in 2018. This project will also include the relocation or demolition of 22 blighted homes on Middle Street and the beautification of remaining homes.

3.9 Improve transportation options in and around the Corridor

What: Partner with the Macon Transit Authority to offer free access to public transit Downtown during special events. Explore opportunities to offer a dependable, affordable, safe taxi service Downtown and in the Corridor. Why: Affordable public transportation that reliably serves the Corridor and Downtown areas will help encourage people to stay in town and enjoy themselves after work or class, as they know they will have a safe and dependable way to get home later. Shuttles during special events and a taxi service for hire throughout the year would drive dollars to local businesses as patrons linger longer, and, in turn, increase options for socializing in the evenings.

4. (Left) Culvert in Pleasant Hill will become a trail segment adjacent to the Booker T. Washington Community Center when GDOT widens I-75.


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The Environment: City within a Park The Environment is about growing greener in the Corridor and also about refreshing and maintaining the Corridor’s beloved open spaces. Since the original Master Plan, big strides have been made on tree planting, park improvements, and park stewardship, as evidenced by the transformations visible and still unfolding in Tattnall Square Park. New action strategies call for keeping up the good work and following through on plans to make the Corridor’s streets ever more soft and shaded and green spaces all the more beloved.

3: The Environment 4: Connection




4.1 Continue to beautify the Corridor with green The original Master Plan included a recommendation to upgrade retention walls as green “living� walls, putting these structural wall elements to use and beautifying them in doing so. Some of these walls are ornamental and brick, adding beauty to the streetscape, but others are bland or deteriorating. Applying green wall technology to these unique vertical surfaces would add greenery, visual interest, and provide a natural means to manage stormwater. This idea remains an opportunity for property owners, and participants in the Refresh contributed two additional ideas in a similar spirit of continuing to beautify the Corridor with green.

What: Grow climbing vines on the chain-link fence along the Montpelier Avenue bridge over I-75. Add more color to the Corridor by planting flowers and encouraging others to help. Why: The Montpelier Avenue bridge is an important gateway to the Corridor, but its current appearance does not do the Corridor justice. The bridge could benefit from aesthetic enhancements to make for a more welcoming entrance. As for flowers, who doesn’t like flowers? College Hill is a vibrant community, and residents want the streetscape to reflect that vibrancy. Connect with local nurseries or landscape services and find some fun (orange) flowers to adorn the Corridor.

(Left, clockwise from top) Example of a living wall, vine beautifies chain-link fence, and seed bombs that yield surprise wildflower plantings where ever they are dropped. (Right, top) Brick-sized, permeable tree well pavers in Boston allow water to reach tree roots. (Right, bottom) Rain garden built in conjunction with new development to manage stormwater on site.


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4.2 Integrate stormwater management into public realm improvement projects

What: Integrate stormwater management techniques in landscape and streetscape improvements.


Why: Given the Corridor’s interest in green and commitment to connections and placemaking, the original Master Plan called for Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) to be integrated in the Corridor’s streetscapes. GSI techniques minimize the proportion of precipitation that is converted to polluted surface runoff by maximizing the water volume that evaporates and infiltrates into the ground. They reduce strain on the local sewer system, help protect the local water quality, and add beauty and greenery to the Corridor for passersby to enjoy on a daily basis. GSI is also often more cost-effective than traditional stormwater infrastructure.

4.3 Integrate stormwater management into private development projects too

What: Incorporate stormwater infrastructure as part of large-scale development opportunities. Why: Larger-scale developments afford the opportunity to integrate appropriate stormwater management infrastructure from the outset, thus obviating the need for future retrofits, and lessening their impact on the local environment. In the hilly (and in places, soggy) Beall’s Hill neighborhood, for example, provisions for stormwater management that accompany apartment developments in the future (see Recommendation 5.2) can not only help keep the apartment property dry, but can also absorb water before it reaches the lowest point below, easing the flooding issues on adjacent downhill blocks at lower grades.

4: The Environment


S D + N S U K O R R PA PL AYG * * 4.4 Keep your parks green and healthy

What: Engage in regular maintenance and green upgrades to parks, including soil analysis, replenishing trees and shrubs, and planting more shade trees.

Why: Parks are full of life and much like living organisms themselves. Like other living things, they require maintenance and upkeep so that they can stay healthy and serve their purpose, offering clean, green community space for recreation and relaxation. Friends of Tattnall Square Park can attest to the importance of caring for park ecosystems and planning for plant life succession to ensure that the Corridor’s parks remain assets for generations to come.

4.5 Implement the Tattnall Square Park Master Plan

Beyond maintenance and upkeep, parks and playgrounds require elements that draw people to them. Open space, grass, and shade trees go a long way, but parks also need elements to help people be comfortable (like benches and tables), have fun (like play equipment or barbecue areas), and have fun with friends (like events and recreation programs). Corridor residents had lots of ideas for capital and programming improvements in the area’s green spaces, starting with Tattnall Square Park. What: Implement the Tattnall Square Park Master Plan and increase amenities and activities in the park. Why: The Master Plan calls for restoration of the park’s historic path network, four new gateway arches adorned with custom art, a fountain at the center, and a destination playground, among other features, to be added to the already popular park. Community members had additional ideas for improvements, including additional exercise classes, a sound system or musical elements, and performance space. Plantings, gazebo improvements, new seating areas, and attractive trash bins represent important first steps in implementing the park’s Master Plan. To sustain their efforts and continue to make progress, Friends of Tattnall Square Park will require continued grassroots commitment as well as ongoing support from Mercer and Macon-Bibb County.


4.6 Upgrade the Corridor’s smaller parks What: Implement the redesign of Daisy Park. Upgrade Rose Park. Why: One of the Knight Neighborhood Challenge grants funded a mini-master plan for the redesign of Daisy Park, but implementation has yet to advance. Daisy Park is a highly visible and important site in the Corridor and could become a greater amenity and key steppingstone between the College Hill Corridor and a revitalized Downtown. Rose Park lies between the Medical Center of Central Georgia and Mount de Sales Academy. The triangular, passive park contains a walking labyrinth for peace and healing. Bench seating exists, taking advantage of the shade and views, but new grass seeding and colorful plantings would refresh the park’s appearance. A sidewalk on the park’s northern edge would complete the walkway around the perimeter. Paths connecting sidewalks with benches in the park’s interior would help Medical Center patients and visitors with limited mobility access available seating.

(Right) New entries, benches, trees, and seating areas are just a preview of what’s still to come in Tattnall Square Park. Source: Friends of Tattnall Square Park


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4: The Environment



4.7 Make capital and programming improvements at the Booker T. Washington Community Center

What: Improve the park and playground at the Booker T. Washington Community Center. Why: Pleasant Hill residents and community leaders voiced a need for physical upgrades to the park and playground behind the Booker T. Washington Community Center that currently hosts STONE Academy. The play equipment, which is greatly needed by neighborhood youth, is old, failing, and in need of full replacement. The basketball courts require upgrading and amenities such as bleacher seating, and the slope down to the pool should be improved with new plantings, and a restored slide. Furthermore, when I-75 expands, a trail will be built along the southern edge of the highway, connecting the neighborhood with adjacent cemeteries and the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail network (see Recommendation 3.8), making this park an important stop along the way. Figure 13:


Assets at the Booker T. Washington Community Center

Figure 14:

Issues at and surrounding the playground, including vacant and dilapidated housing.

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Existing homes facing Booker T. Washington Community Center and playground.

Figure 15: Rendering of proposed residential reinvestment adjacent to the playground to shore up 1st Street and stabilize the area surrounding this important community anchor.


4: The Environment



4.8 Form a “Friends of” group for Washington Park to spearhead advocacy and improvement efforts

What: Make physical improvements to Washington Park and create a “Friends of” group. Why: Washington Park is heavily used, but also in need of maintenance and upgrades including additional plantings, a sustainable watering system, and repairs to its walkways. The success of the Friends of Tattnall Square Park groups suggests that a similar group committed to advocacy and stewardship of Washington Square Park could help champion the park’s agenda for improvements and garner support for these efforts.


4.9 Look for opportunities to increase the amount of green space in the Corridor

Neighbors have ideas for new park spaces as well as improvements to existing parks. The original Master Plan included a recommendation for greening and beautifying church entry plazas to make these open spaces more park-like and comfortable for gathering in warmer months. Specifically, the plan called out St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and First Baptist Church of Christ as significant architectural monuments with wide asphalt forecourts that do not do justice to the churches. These approaches should be replaced with landscaping, new brick pavers, decorative crosswalks, lighting, and interpretive signage, slightly reducing on-street parking, but not altering existing traffic patterns. The remaining recommendations in this chapter represent new ideas proposed by community members for added open space.

What: Create more “pocket” parks or smaller parks. Encourage urban gardening and gardeners. Dream up and build an artistic sculptural playground. Why: Smaller, unused or underused spaces that are difficult to redevelop can be transformed as pocket parks, public spaces that can feel and function like a intimate yard or garden space. Keep your eye out for opportunities to carve out new pockets of green space in the Corridor. Smaller unused or underused spaces in the Corridor can also become places for local, small-scale agriculture. Urban gardens not only provide pleasant green (or all colors of the rainbow, depending on what is grown!) spaces, but also empower communities and educate people on healthy living (more on that in “The Strong”). And finally, artistic, sculptural playgrounds can be quirky and whimsical and serve as a regional destination and nice complement to playgrounds with standard equipment. The creation of these playgrounds could employ local artists, showcasing local talent as well.

5. Residents expressed great interest in gardening and creative playscapes for children and families to enjoy.


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The Look:

Macon’s Urban and Historic Center

As in the original plan, The Look still hosts the recommendations for development to fill in gaps and promote more activity in the Corridor’s neighborhoods. With Mercer Village, The Lofts, and new homes in Beall’s Hill, the area has changed dramatically since the first Master Plan. Social changes have accompanied the physical changes too. Mercer Village has created a new center for the community, a place to hang out and socialize, while the homes in Beall’s Hill have stabilized blocks, and residents new and old have come together to address shared concerns and challenges. New action strategies identify opportunities to increase the mix of housing and test the market for new businesses in the Corridor.

4: The Look 5: Environment

58 54



5.1 Continue single-family infill and rehabs for homeownership


What: Complete the rebuilding effort in Beall’s Hill, and launch a similar infill approach in Pleasant Hill, starting across from the Booker T. Washington Community Center to reinforce this important asset and build upon The Lofts at College Hill development at Georgia Avenue and Monroe Street (see Figure 15 in The Environment). Why: Single-family infill and rehabilitation efforts initiated by Historic Macon and complemented by private market investments have made significant strides in stabilizing and rebuilding the Beall’s Hill neighborhood. Work is ongoing to complete the revitalization of Beall’s Hill, but once complete this proven strategy should be replicated to help stabilize neighborhoods throughout the Corridor.

Residential infill and rehabilitation in Beall’s Hill by Historic Macon paved the way for private development and ongoing neighborhood revitalization.


5.2 Increase housing choice by building marketrate loft apartments in Beall’s Hill

Why: Build two market-rate apartment developments in Beall’s Hill, working with the Beall’s Hill Neighborhood Association (BHNA) to ensure that the developments address community concerns and meet the community’s objectives. The two development sites deemed most suitable for apartments are Site A at Oglethorpe and Jackson Streets and Site B at Hazel and Calhoun Streets. A site at Hazel and Jackson Streets also has potential for an apartment development. Why: Infill in Beall’s Hill has been remarkably successful, but a 2012 Housing Market Study commissioned by Historic Hills & Heights and developed by Zimmerman Volk Associates indicates that the market can only absorb 8 to 10 new homes per year, so development or redevelopment of single family homes should slow down. The study also identified a new market opportunity for multi-family housing, or apartments, indicating that the housing market in Beall’s Hill can support 48 to 54 units of market-rate multi-family housing per year. This type of development will enable the neighborhood’s revitalization to proceed more quickly, while also making a big impact by redeveloping large sites that are on major streets. Greater density in the neighborhood will help support more stores and services, and more people and eyes on the street will improve neighborhood safety. Apartment living also means less property maintenance for tenants because that responsibility will fall upon a qualified management company. Finally, the apartments will add diversity to the Corridor’s housing stock, thereby increasing housing choice for households of different ages and composition.

(Above) Comments from Beall’s Hill residents about the benefits of denser rental development in the neighborhood. (Below) Site B, adjacent to the vacant Kitchen Kupboard.

Figure 16:

Conceptual site plan exploring opportunities for market-rate loft apartments in Beall’s Hill

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5: The Look



5.3 Pursue opportunities for denser residential development near Macon Dog Park

What: Explore the potential for loft apartment or condominium development in a peaceful and green setting near the dog park, targeting a different demographic than The Lofts at Mercer Village or the loft developments in Downtown Macon. Why: The barracks-style housing in the block adjacent to Macon Dog Park and hemmed in by the railroad and highway is distressed and/or outdated, partially vacant, and disconnected from the general neighborhood. People love the natural, wooded character of this part of the Corridor and wish to preserve that quality, but they also see this as an opportunity for redevelopment and a chance to provide a local option for loft apartment or condominium living. Redevelopment would replace obsolete units with a more modern housing stock and better connect the block to the surrounding neighborhood and dog park. The building would have to be dog-friendly!

Potential redevelopment site across from Macon Dog Park.



5.4 Work with institutional partners to strengthen the housing market

What: Work with the Medical Center of Central Georgia and other interested institutions to explore opportunities to replicate or redesign the Mercer Down Payment Assistance Program model to encourage employees to live in the Corridor. Incentives could include down payment or rent assistance, as apartment development continues in the Corridor and Downtown, offering attractive new options nearby.

Why: A strong residential base contributes to a vibrant community and strengthens the local economy. As Mercer University’s Down Payment Assistance Program, co-funded by the Knight Foundation, has proven, incentivizing employees to live close to work has multiple benefits, from neighborhood revitalization to community pride, community building to individual health and happiness derived from a convenient and walkable lifestyle. Employers benefit, in turn, as the benefits can help attract and retain employee talent.

Coming soon to the Corridor: The Lofts at College Hill by Sierra Development.

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5.5 Conduct a market study for commercial and retail services

What: Commission a commercial or retail market study to gather information on commercial supply, demand, competition, and leakage, identify gaps in commercial and retail services, and suggest business types that would best fill these gaps and meet community needs. The market study should then be used as a tool to guide business attraction efforts. Why: Neighborhood amenities are important for all residents in the Corridor – long-term residents, students, employees, and people young and old. The collaborative map documented an outpouring of desire for a variety of businesses, including a movie-theater, a 24/7 restaurant, and a frozen yogurt shop. Others noted the need for quality, affordable services, such as a laundromat and dry cleaner, a grocery, and extended-hour day care options. While all of these businesses would add value to the Corridor, it is important to quantify market demand for such services and ensure new businesses that are recruited to open in the Corridor will be viable in the long-term based on community needs and support.


5.6 Pursue hotel development to serve Medical

Center, Mercer Football fans and visiting families/ students What: Attract hotel operators and showcase prime redevelopment sites adjacent to the I-75 interchange near Mercer, and more importantly, the football arena. Why: The Corridor hosts one boutique bed & breakfast, the 1842 Inn, and one full service hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn near Mercer. These options currently serve visitors to Macon, Mercer, and the Medical Center, along with the Marriott City Center across the Ocmulgee River in East Macon. While Mercer and the Medical Center have long been interested in additional hotel development to serve prospective students and families, visiting faculty, University or Medical Center staff recruits, patients and their families, as well as conference attendees, the launch of Mercer football in Fall 2013 provided an additional – and sizable – customer base, as fans and alumni return to tailgate and cheer for the Bears.

Great ideas from the community for new commercial and retail in the Corridor need to be tested by a market study to determine long-term viability.

5: The Look



The Strong:

Healthy Mind, Body and Community

The Strong is a NEW THEME for the Master Plan Update that seeks to promote exercise, nutrition, and access to healthy, affordable food as well as preventive medical and dental care. Through the planning process, public health at the community and individual scales emerged as a new area of interest and concern and an important new topic to tackle collectively.


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The Big Picture: Why The Strong? Public health in Macon-Bibb County trails both the state of Georgia and country as a whole: of the 159 counties in Georgia, Bibb County ranks 139 in terms of overall health. Thirty-nine percent of adults are obese, compared to 30% statewide and 28% across the country. Further, approximately three-quarters of adults are overweight compared to roughly two-thirds statewide as well as nationally. Numerous factors underlie these statistics on weight status, including physical activity and nutrition. More than one in three adults in Bibb County reports a lack of physical activity versus 25% in Georgia and 29% in the United States. Moreover, over half of restaurants in Bibb County are fast food establishments compared to 27% nationally. Dental health, which can have significant impact on overall health, is a potential issue in the County as well, as only approximately 56% of Bibb County residents over 18 had a dental visit in the past year, compared to roughly 70% in Georgia and 67% in the U.S.1 As a slice of Macon-Bibb, these statistics are of concern to residents throughout the Corridor. College Hill is surrounded by several premier medical facilities, including the Medical Center of Central Georgia, which is the second largest hospital in Georgia. Access to the Medical Center and primary or emergency healthcare facilities, however, is a challenge for residents who experience difficulty walking and those who do not have access to a car; door-to-door access is not feasible with most available public transit options in College Hill. The 2012 PRC (Professional Research Consultants) Community Health Needs Assessment Report sponsored by Medical Center of Central Georgia identified several areas of opportunity for Macon-Bibb and its surrounding area, including: access to health services; nutrition, physical activity, and weight status; and, oral health, among others. Two key priorities identified in focus groups were education and prevention as well as access and transportation. The recommendations below aim to address these opportunity areas for improving public health through strategies tailored to the assets and interests in and around the Corridor.2 The Community Health Needs Assessment Report also emphasizes the potential of educational and community-based programs to have a significant influence on improving the health of a community in addition to preventing disease and injury. These types of programs lie at the heart of the recommendations in this section of the College Hill Refresh and were largely driven by community input. Residents expressed the need to encourage a culture of physical activity with programming, facilities, amenities, and events. They also expressed strong interest in food and nutrition, including improved access to and education on healthy options. Family-friendly activities, which would also serve to foster a culture of physical activity among younger generations, were also of great importance to community members. The following recommendations, which pertain to exercise, nutrition, and medical care, will help the Corridor get moving to get HEALTHY!

1; 2012 PRC (Professional Research Consultants) Community Health Needs Assessment Report. 2 2012 PRC (Professional Research Consultants) Community Health Needs Assessment Report. Areas included in the report are Bibb and several other neighboring counties (Houston, Peach, Jones, Twiggs, Monroe, and Crawford).

6: The Strong




E S I C R E EX 6.1 Improve exercise-friendliness of trails What: Introduce exercise equipment along trails and add water bottle refilling stations and pet fountains. Why: Improving the exercise-friendliness of trails will encourage healthy activity and cross training opportunities for people looking to spice up their cardio workouts with some strength training. Access to water where people (and pets) exercise is critical to supporting activity, especially in the summer heat!

6.2 Increase the number of facilities in the

Corridor for exercise, recreation, and active, family-friendly outings What: Explore opportunities to bring fun and active activities for all ages to the Corridor. Ideas proposed by the community include a ropes course, a climbing wall, a skate park, laser tag, paint ball, mini-golf, a skating rink (new plastic rink materials mean that cold weather is not longer a pre-requisite!), a petting zoo, and an activity center that offers day care for kids. Why: The College Hill community likes to have fun, and residents were full of ideas for recreation destinations that they would like to see in the Corridor, even temporarily during special events or seasons. Such facilities will increase access to and encouragement of exercise and active recreation, which in turn promotes public health and happiness in the Corridor.

(Right) Community ideas for exercise amenities and familyfriendly activities.


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6: The Strong



6.3 Host events and programs dealing with health issues, physical fitness, and community health

What: More events, healthy events! As community members demonstrated in sharing their recommendations for The Vibe, there is no shortage of ideas about events (large or small) to bring to the Corridor. Active or healthrelated event and program ideas generated by Corridor residents and employees, students and other stakeholders are listed here:

>> Events: Wanderlust (a free, traveling yoga festival), a Color Run, bicycle races, neighborhood health fairs (including behavioral health), and a Mercer Football field day for local kids to meet the team >> Outdoor exercise: Yoga classes in Tattnall Square Park, Zumba or Tai Chi classes in the park, and Downtown Bootcamp classes that make use of Macon’s hills and steps

>> Programs to keep people moving motivated: Students Run or Girls Run (after school running programs for public school non-athletes that build confidence and fitness), Back on My Feet (a running program tailored to the homeless population, also intended to build confidence, fitness, and healthy routines), daily steps competitions for employees at major institutions, Big Brothers/Big Sisters or mentorship opportunities, and active learning opportunities in school >> Partnerships: work with employers to encourage healthier lifestyles (e.g. eating and walking), work with churches and the Macon Housing Authority to connect with harder to reach populations, and regionally, work with Community Health Works to ensure that healthrelated initiatives engage all corners of the Corridor Why: These events and programs will spread information and awareness on health issues, invite people to try new things, foster community cohesion by bringing people together, and promote physical fitness through activities – all of which are cornerstones to improved community health.

(Far Left) Back on My Feet is a running program in cities across the country that engages homeless people and helps them build confidence, fitness, and healthy routines; (Left) Zumba in the square. (Right) Color Run.


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6: The Strong



N O I T I R NUT 6.4 Make healthy foods more accessible What: Residents from all of the Corridor’s neighborhoods note the need for improved access to healthy food options. While residents are keen to recruit a grocery store to the Corridor proper, the new Ocmulgee Traders Downtown brings produce and prepared foods within closer reach, as does Downtown’s weekly Mulberry Street Farmers Market, which accepts payment by cash, credit, and EBT card. The Community Health Works Veggie Van also delivers fresh produce to the area’s food deserts, where many residents also lack access to transportation. Additional options to increase the accessibility of fresh produce are to advocate for healthy snacks at afterschool programs and to create an affordable CSA (CommunitySupported Agriculture) program, whereby participants can pre-order boxes of produce at the $5, $10, and $15 level each week rather than having to pre-pay a large membership fee early in the season. Why: Access to health food is essential for combating diabetes and obesity, both of which plague Bibb County children and adults.


6.5 Offer activities to teach people about (and taste!) healthy foods

What: Educate each other about the healthy foods you enjoy, and encourage people to cook together, eat together, and try new flavors and ingredients. The community’s ideas include: >> Conduct cooking workshops with an emphasis on healthy eating >> Organize potlucks where people can share healthy favorites >> Coordinate a healthy recipe exchange or Corridor Cookbook >> Partner with local chefs to host a healthy dining week at local restaurants


6.6 Support community gardening initiatives What: Support experienced and budding community gardeners by creating more visible community gardens, providing education on community gardening and backyard gardening for aspiring gardeners, and offering classes on beekeeping and chicken keeping for the more adventurous. Why: Urban gardens add color and flavor to the landscape, empower communities through collective action, create learning opportunities for young and old, and help to activate people’s daily lives. Classes on beekeeping and chicken keeping would serve as an alternative for those without a green thumb, or for those simply wanting to do it all!

Why: Activities related to healthy food complement increased access to healthy food. They can highlight healthy eating as a fun, tasty, and communal activity while also empowering residents through education and skills development.

(Right) Community ideas for nutrition and access to fresh produce.


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6: The Strong



6.7 Cultivate a culture of preventive care What: Facilitate connections between patients and doctors, and help make going to the doctor (or dentist) common practice. Encourage clinics to host scheduling booths at community events and to remind and invite people to schedule appointments for regular care – be they for medical, dental, or behavioral health. Offer incentives for establishing healthy habits and stronger relationships with primary care providers such as free massages, access to a smoking cessation program, or nutrition counseling. Why: As is the case in many cities, Macon’s emergency rooms are burdened by patients who do not have a “medical home” or primary care provider and instead rely on costly hospital services for non-emergency conditions better treated in a doctor’s office. Health education programs coupled with more consistent care will improve public health and also help local hospitals focus on the emergency and critical cases they are best suited to address.


6.8 Increase health education What: Education programs are also an important component of preventive care, as they can target unhealthy habits and offer information on how to change them. Start early with school programs that eliminate or reduce soda consumption and focus on healthy eating. Fold in health education at community events to reach a broader population. Why: Education and preventive care supports community health by promoting healthy habits and general well-being. This in turn can help prevent disease and address problems before they even start. Healthy homework assignments can help reach parents who may be in greater need of medical care.



6.10 Increase access to dental care in (or near) the Corridor

What: Increase awareness about free or low-cost cleanings for healthier, happier smiles throughout the Corridor. Central Georgia Technical College has a hygienist training program three miles southwest of Mercer University and offers discounted cleanings by students two days per week. The Macon Volunteer Clinic north of the Corridor on Ingleside Avenue also offers dental services. In addition to existing clinics, explore opportunities to introduce mobile dental clinics or to incorporate them at area schools. Why: Medicaid doesn’t cover dental for patients over 21 years old, but oral hygiene is fundamental for overall health.

6.9 Increase access to healthcare through transportation

What: A jitney service, on-call health van for neighbors in need (like the Community Health Works Veggie Van), or coordinated ride-share program could serve as a lowercost alternative to taxis and a complement to the Macon Transit Authority’s Paratransit System, which requires planning a day ahead of an appointment and therefore is not an option for day-of use. Why: Residents without automobile access have difficulty accessing health services, especially when not within walking distance. Healthcare providers cite transportation as a key factor in missed appointments or deferred care.

Figure 17:


Healthcare providers in the Corridor.

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6: The Strong



The Biz: At Work in the Corridor

The Biz is the other NEW THEME added to the Master Plan in the College Hill Refresh . This theme is about job creation, fostering entrepreneurship, and continued economic development in the Corridor. As the planning process progressed, College Hill Alliance launched an open call for people to join the Maker3 Movement in Macon and with that call they launched a website, By cultivating small businesses and supporting start-ups of all sorts, College Hill can help create career paths that keep college students in Macon as well as local opportunities for existing residents and offcampus entrepreneurs in the Corridor.

3 The term maker today is intended to be widely encompassing, including artisans, craftsmen, innovators, and creators of everything from foods to multimedia to home goods to computer applications.


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The Big Picture: Why The Biz? Given the deep-rooted economic issues in Macon -- low wealth, low educational attainment, non-diverse and static job base, and little innovation4 -- it is exceedingly clear that the local economy is going to have to be built from the inside out. Small businesses have historically been the foundation of the American economy and are anticipated to continue to increase in their employment share. The creative industries and small-scale makers are experiencing a resurgence, resuming their roles as key pieces of America’s success story, and becoming a cornerstone of the national economy once again. College Hill Alliance has achieved success in many of its placemaking efforts, which are of critical importance to the choices creatives make about where to live and work. It is a natural and logical progression for an initiative like College Hill, which has made many strides in the “live” and “play” elements of community development, to now turn focus to addressing “work” as a key element in order to achieve sustainable economic development. “Entrepreneur” describes anyone who starts a new business. Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life -- meaning diverse ages, backgrounds, income levels, ethnicities, educations, and career experiences. Entrepreneurs are also found in every industry sector -- not just technology or bioscience, but restaurant owners, artists, dry cleaners, engineers, furniture makers, boutique owners, and graphic designers, among many, many others. The Maker Movement describes a return of sorts to American manufacturing, innovation, and ingenuity. It is a subculture of “do-it-yourself” people powered by technologists who see life through an open source lens. The term “maker” today is intended to be widely encompassing, including artisans, craftsmen, innovators, and creators of everything from foods to multimedia to home goods to computer applications. To diversify the economy from within, a two-prong approach is needed: (1) support start-up and existing small businesses and (2) keep regional college graduates in the Macon area. A better job must be done of supporting people who are already here -- trying to get a foothold on starting a business, figuring out how to make sure their business survives, or taking an existing business to the next level -- and attracting new people. Graduates of the area’s colleges and universities have to feel connected to the community, be able to find work, and desire to live here. Macon must become a place people want to stay in or move to, especially creatives, entrepreneurs and makers. Of the four necessary elements of community infrastructure for entrepreneurial success -- culture, capital, network, and technical assistance -- the best fit for College Hill is in building the culture and network. Trust is a hard won, but an absolutely integral, building block for any community’s entrepreneur ecosystem to thrive. Trust must be in place in order for a true understanding of risk to take root, which is the most direct path to innovation and success. In Macon, this component will be of even greater importance, given long-standing divides within the community. College Hill’s role will be most effective and impactful in working to shift the community business culture towards one that inspires ideas, creates opportunities, embraces risk, and supports collaboration, while simultaneously strengthening the interconnected networks among entrepreneurs and with the community.

4 Central Georgia Regional Analysis: Demographics, Economy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Cleveland State University Center for Economic Development, January 2013.

7: The Biz


REVERSE While exploring work, jobs, and entrepreneurship, the College Hill Alliance discovered that the region’s economic foundation must be addressed on a broader scale in order to achieve economic success. Many of the findings resulting from this research are outside the mission and focus of the College Hill initiative. They will therefore serve as the basis for a separate strategy and set of recommendations. College Hill Alliance intends to deliver this strategy to Macon’s leadership and citizenry in the fall of 2014. The following recommendations are organized into three categories: the retention of college graduates to reverse local “brain drain”; an increase of networking and collaboration opportunities between start-ups and existing businesses; and the facilitation of the start-up process to encourage entrepreneurship in the Corridor. Let’s get to WORK!


The current “brain drain” – the flow of graduates from six regional colleges and universities who largely leave for employment opportunities elsewhere -- must be reversed by building stronger ties between small businesses and regional college students as community members, customers, interns, and employees. With the significant number of college students in the greater Macon area, it is critical to retain some of that talent and energy locally upon graduation. College Hill has been a pioneer in populating the community’s social calendar with events that help students connect to and feel at home in the Corridor; now College Hill needs to be a leader in better connecting students to the business community while they are in school, through events, internships, and employment opportunities, which would deliver positive results to both college students and area small businesses. Ensuring that talent stays in Macon after graduation will diversify and enhance the business capacity, workforce, and mindset of the community.

7.1 Initiate and support a competition related to

business and entrepreneurship among all colleges and universities in the region for students in all majors What:



Launch a business plan competition.

Why: This competition will raise awareness about entrepreneurship and help expose college students to small business planning. Further, the prize could serve as an initial seed to launch new businesses.

7.2 Strengthen and formalize connections

between small businesses and the career services departments of higher education institutions in region


7.3 Increase information on and opportunities for local internships

What: Create and distribute simple, easy-to-digest information on how internships work for both students and small businesses. Host an online internship fair for regional college and university students regarding opportunities with small businesses in Macon. Why: Accessible information on internships and increased opportunities will benefit both students and small businesses. Small businesses will gain a better understanding of how to structure internships, hire and manage interns, and define their value proposition. Students will learn what is expected of them as interns and gain exposure to and form connections with small, local businesses.

What: Facilitate meetings between both groups as a starting point for fostering these connections. Why: Joint meetings will provide a platform for a better understanding of the needs of both groups and how they can more successfully partner.


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7.4 Create a post-graduate fellowship program for Mercer University students


What: The central focus of the post-graduate fellowship program would be to implement a capstone project locally. During the one-year fellowship, students would receive residential space, financial support, and management on a rolling basis.


Why: Through its focus on local implementation, the fellowship program would better connect students to the surrounding community. Further, by providing an opportunity to stay in Macon after graduation, the program could increase retention over the longer term.

7.5 Increase education about and exposure to entrepreneurship as a career

What: Expand the entrepreneurship curriculum in local schools at all levels of education: elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as colleges and universities. Incorporate more adjunct faculty and practitioner speakers at regional colleges and universities.

Model programs to bring to the Corridor.

7: The Biz

7.6 Create opportunities for entrepreneurship among youth

What: Sponsor and participate in Lemonade Day, a national program.


Why: Beginning with a lemonade stand, the program teaches youth to start, own, and operate their own business. This experience and the skills learned can transfer to many different applications.

7.7 Adopt appropriate policies now to facilitate entrepreneurial efforts in the future

What: Support higher education institutions in the region in the development and adoption of intellectual property policies. Why: The adoption of these policies is the first step in helping to create an appropriate structure for successful technology transfer and commercialization opportunities emerging at colleges and institutions in the future.

Why: Increased education on and exposure to entrepreneurship will underscore the possibility of business as a career path to students, who are the future workforce. Furthermore, adjunct faculty and practitioner speakers offer “real world� perspectives beyond the academic context. Through relating their experiences, they could encourage students to consider entrepreneurial pursuits.




An important component of building a truly collaborative culture is increasing the collision factor in a community. When this concept is lifted from chemistry and applied to economics, it simply means increasing the opportunities for people and ideas to collide and interact. Increasing these collisions delivers increased connections, collaborations, opportunities, and economic impact. College Hill can serve in this role through events (formal and informal), physical space, and a virtual/web interface. There is a need for greater connectivity within Macon’s small business community, between business owners, professional service providers, customers, and students. There is also a strengthening makers’ community in the greater Macon area that is eager to collaborate and build capacity to fill a niche in the regional economy. College Hill should create and promote opportunities for small business owners, entrepreneurs and makers to come together with leaders and mentors.

7.8 Establish and strengthen the network among local makers

What: Develop and manage a Makers’ Exchange. Host informal networking events, such as coffee or cocktails for small businesses, with a focus on makers.


Why: A Makers’ Exchange could provide bartering or matchmaking services among local makers for supplies, services, or other needs. Networking events facilitate real and natural connections, in particular when taking place in a more casual setting.

7.9 Develop and host a business-focused speaker series

What: Highlight prominent, innovative, and relevant business and thought leaders in a speaker series that targets existing and would-be entrepreneurs. Model the program on the local Knight Neighborhood Challengefunded Music Ambassadors program. Why: The speaker series could expose the community to new ideas and experiences relating to entrepreneurship. Further, basing the series on the Music Ambassadors model will ensure that visiting speakers experience and interact with the community.



7.10 Promote and raise awareness about local makers

What: Support and develop local makers market events, either as stand-alone events like a Maker Faire, or in conjunction with natural partners. Develop and produce a products and services guide for local makers and publish both electronically and in hard copy. The launching of events and release of the guide could occur on a biannual or quarterly basis, or around special events, such as holidays. Why: Makers are a growing group in College Hill and can serve as an important cornerstone to the small business community, yet members of the Macon community may not yet be familiar with their accomplishments, efforts, and goods available. Promoting and increasing awareness of makers will better connect the community with local goods and services.

As part of a new initiative for the Corridor, the College Hill Alliance administered a survey for all makers in Macon.

Refresh | Master Plan update


7.11 Promote local, small businesses and

budding entrepreneurs through low-cost, highvisibility efforts What: Host pop-up events and coordinate temporary pop-up retail space.


Why: These efforts highlight local, small businesses, either at their place of business or as additions to community events. Temporary pop-up retail space would occupy vacant storefronts, offering visibility to budding entrepreneurs while benefitting existing property owners and businesses through decreased vacancy.

7.12 Host events bringing together regional college entrepreneurship club presidents, entrepreneurs and small business owners, and established business and community leaders

What: Host informal events, such as dinner clubs, among these key stakeholders.


Why: Dinner clubs and other less formal events offer another more relaxed avenue to encourage meaningful interactions and foster connections.

7.13 Host an annual festival for regional college and university students

What: Center the festival on local culture and strengths and include a Mini Maker Faire as well. Why: The festival will raise awareness of community assets in Macon and help create stronger bonds between college students and their surrounding community. The Mini Maker Faire will highlight local makers’ goods and services, and, around holiday times, provide unique gift offerings for students to bring home from school for family and friends.

7: The Biz


L AUNCH PAD A single “launch pad” or “welcome mat” for small businesses, particularly makers and entrepreneurs is needed in Macon. New talent, college students or recent graduates need to know where to land to get plugged into the community, and small businesses also need to know where to easily find help in starting out or building their business. The mechanics of service delivery and technical assistance are best handled by other organizations, but College Hill is a great fit for handling the experience for the “customer” as a single, easily accessible, inviting, and relatable resource. This can be accomplished through both a physical space and a virtual interface, and serve as a central resource -- providing information and networking -- for emerging businesses across Macon.


7.14 Increase accessibility of information for emerging businesses across Macon


What: Create a simple, easy-to-understand platform with information on the start-up process for businesses and available resources in Macon.

7.15 Create a database of local and regional start-up assets and resources

What: Gear the database toward entrepreneurs and small business owners in Macon and ensure proper management to remain up-to-date. Why: The database will serve as an important reference guide to better connect entrepreneurs and small business owners to resources that could serve to benefit their operations.


that demonstrate colloquial and quirky qualities of the greater Macon community What: Broadcast the College Hill Vibe, calendar of events, and cost of living through advertising and outreach in other creative centers and campuses in the region, including Atlanta, Athens, Decatur, and Savannah, to name a few.

Why: This resource will help budding entrepreneurs navigate the system with greater ease and thus facilitate and plan for the costs of their launching process.


7.16 Increase awareness of local social events


Why: Bringing these qualities to light will to enhance community appeal and relevance to creatives outside of Macon.

7.17 Develop a quality seal for “Made in Macon”


7.18 Create and manage electronic directories of real estate and businesses in the College Hill Corridor

What: Include available residential and commercial real estate (both rental and for-sale) and all businesses. Ensure proper management of these directories to remain up-to-date. Why: These directories will serve to better connect residents and visitors to commercial and residential options in the area and thus support local business. In addition, they would provide a readily accessible platform for anyone interested in buying or renting in the area, including existing residents, potential newcomers, new business owners, and others.

What: Distribute the seal in various media, as decals, stickers, and digitally. Local businesses could then use this seal on their products and on the web. Why: The seal will raise awareness of locally-made goods among area residents, businesses that export their products, and out-of-town clients.

Refresh | Master Plan update


7.19 Provide a physical space for exchange

among entrepreneurs, small businesses, makers, and others What: Develop and manage a co-working space, including private conference rooms for small businesses. Consider co-locating College Hill Alliance’s office within this space. Why: Co-working spaces bring together workers in a diversity of employment situations, including independent contractors, freelancers, start-ups, and others into the same space. As such, they offer a platform for exchange among self-motivated individuals in similar but different working situations. Including conference rooms in these spaces would enable client meetings, and co-locating with the Alliance’s office would facilitate the sharing of resources and communications.

7: The Biz

School of Visual Arts in New York City offers summer co-working space in their Products of Design studio. Source:

Indy Hall, a co-working space in Philadelphia, has 300 members. About 90 members work on site each day. Source: technical-ly/philly



Next Steps

The final set of recommendations are intended as a quick guide to next steps as the days of the College Hill Alliance (CHA) wind down and implementation of the College Hill Refresh gears up.


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8.1 Make the most of the College Hill Alliance, now

>> The Alliance’s sunset is on the horizon, but that horizon is still many months away. As a first priority, the College Hill Alliance (CHA) should work with the College Hill Corridor Commission to identify priority items from the Master Plan Update for CHA to launch or address while they are still operating at full capacity to keep the momentum going in the Corridor. >> As CHA builds its implementation to-do list of items in the plan, flag a second list of recommendations to be implemented by key partners within the Commission and broader community. Begin conversations with those community leaders and leaders to-be to facilitate knowledge transfer and connections that will prepare community members to take the lead. >> Talk to Mercer and the City, founding partners of the College Hill Corridor collaboration, about the Alliance functions that they may wish to adopt or bring in house for continuity once CHA sunsets. >> Draft a proposal for the College Hill Corridor Steering Committee outlining an organizational and cost structure for the Special Improvement District proposed in Recommendation 1.16. Once formed and funded, the SID can allocate staff time to carry on select CHA functions.


8.2 Be a partner in the planning and

implementation efforts for Downtown Macon and the urban core >> College Hill is part of Macon’s historic core, currently under study for a new planning effort focused on Downtown Macon neighborhoods. As a planning pioneer in the community and a champion of implementation, College Hill will be an important voice at the table. Work closely through that process to identify overlaps and establish partnerships with other organizations whose missions and goals align with those of the Corridor. As resources emerge for implementation of that planning process, look for opportunities to advance common goals.


8.3 Poise the College Hill Commission for growth and evolution

>> Currently, the Commission is co-chaired by a representative from the City-County and a representative from Mercer University, the two entities that launched the College Hill Corridor initiative years ago. As College Hill transitions from a funded and staffed organization back to a volunteer-driven organization, consider adding a leadership position from the community at large. This third chair, potentially nominated by the neighborhood and voted on by the Commission, would be charged with building support and participation from within the larger community. >> When the Alliance sunsets, the Commission will continue its position at the helm of implementation efforts in the Corridor. Organize a retreat to evaluate the implementation committee structure, which fizzled after the original Master Plan, and brainstorm about new strategies to pick up the Alliance’s torch

8: Next Steps

and maintain community interest and effort. An important topic for continued discussion is the legacy of the Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant program. Consider new funding streams that could be secured to back a similar application, review, and selection process for the College Hill Refresh as the one pioneered and refined as the community worked to implement the original Master Plan.


>> Convene a Youth Advisory Council to foster the next generation of College Hill Corridor leaders, advocates, and agents of change. Talk to neighbors with teenagers or adolescents as well as school teachers and administrators in the Corridor and ask for nominations of interested young people in the Corridor. Tap a Commission member to be the youth liaison, tasked with convening the Youth Advisory Council, talking through the plan, identifying projects the youth wish to take on, and coordinating to launch the first project.

8.4 Keep the College Hill Steering Committee engaged as stewards of the Corridor

>> In addition to the College Hill Corridor Commission, the College Hill Steering Committee should continue to meet quarterly to monitor progress and provide institutional support for the volunteer-driven Commission. So NOW it’s time to get busy and make the recommendations for the College Hill Refresh leap off the pages of this plan and become real parts of life in the Corridor. We’re all looking forward to seeing what the next five years will bring.



Refresh | Master Plan update

College Hill Master Plan Refresh  

Released in 2014, the fully updated College Hill Corridor Master Plan refresh continues the momentum of the highly successful College Hill C...

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