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draft College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Mercer University City of Macon

_Interface Studio LLC Land Strategies, Inc. Polis Studio LLC Civic Economics January 2009


DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


“An untapped opportunity in itself, The College Hill Corridor is situated directly between Mercer University and Downtown. It contains all the amenities to become an attractive college-town community.” — College Hill Revisited by Team Creative Macon For the past fifty years, growth in mid-sized American cities has been stagnant, and many are even shrinking. Federal policies, personal tastes and cheap gas have pushed development to the suburbs, sprawling outwards from city borders. One of the most pressing economic development challenges facing American cities today is the opportunity to attract and retain creative young professionals to repopulate our urban core. This group represents the second largest generation in American history, and has significant buying power. Targeting this group, however, requires completely fresh and unique sensibilities about how our cities work, what potential residents expect and how we grow and sustain local economies. A group of students at Mercer University set out almost two years ago to research the problems with cities in America. Their research quickly spilled out of the classroom, as they saw opportunities in their own lives and their own city. Inspired by this research and case studies from other cities, they took their case to Mercer President Bill Underwood, and then-Mayor Jack Ellis. Cooperation was enticing: the University wanted Macon to be “college town cool” and the City wanted to lure creative University graduates to live and work in Macon. The two agreed to form the “College Hill Corridor Commission” and charge the group with reconnecting the University to downtown thereby reconnecting the Millennial generation to Macon. Leadership by two co-chairs, one each from Mercer and the City of Macon, completed the puzzle. Kevin Dubose, Director of Economic and Community Development, and Sarah Gerwig-Moore, Associate Professor at the Walter F. George School of Law, set to work on an ambitious schedule of work. With generous catalytic support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the College Hill Corridor Commission hired Interface Studio to head a diverse and multi-disciplinary planning team to create a comprehensive vision and program of work to wake up College Hill’s dormant potential. Thanks to the creativity of our citizens, this plan grows organically out of the rich assets of our city. With this plan, the College Hill Corridor Commission is “creating a physical, cultural and social path to connect Mercer University and downtown. Along the way, the Commission intends to make the Corridor bike and pedestrian friendly, add economic value to the city’s tax base, beautify residential and commercial areas, attract and retain creative young professionals and program fun public events.” Josh Rogers Director College Hill Corridor Commission

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College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


Acknowledgements This Master Plan was funded by generous grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. Special Thanks to William D. Underwood, President, Mercer University and Robert A.B. Reichert, Mayor, The City of Macon for their visionary leadership in driving this project. The following elected officials generously volunteered their time and ideas to create this plan: Honorable Jim Marshall, United States House of Representatives Chairman Sam Hart, Bibb County Board of Commissioners Mayor Robert A.B. Reichert, The City of Macon Councilman Tom Ellington, The City of Macon Councilman Larry Schlessinger, The City of Macon Other members of the public participated in broad and diverse outreach activities, adding their own ideas and setting the priorities for the plan.

College Hill Corridor Commission Co-Chairs Kevin Dubose, Co-Chair, The City of Macon Director, Economic and Community Development, The City of Macon kevin@collegehillcorridor.com

Planning Team Sarah Gerwig Moore, Co-Chair, Mercer University Assistant Professor, Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University sarah@collegehillcorridor.com

Interface Studio LLC Scott Page Mindy Watts Stacey Chen Matt Davis

LAND STRATEGIES, INC. Commission Members Tommy Barnes, Bibb County Public Schools Craig Byron, interim, Beall’s Hill Neighborhood Association Lynn Cass, Main Street Exploratory Committee Bill Causey, Public Works, The City of Macon Jim Davis, interim, Keep Macon Bibb Beautiful Johnny Elder, Undergraduate Student, Mercer University Brad Evans, The 11th Hour Dan Fischer, Mercer University Larry Fortson, Parks and Recreation, The City of Macon Heather Holder, NewTown Macon Chris Howard, interim, Historic Macon

Steve Layson, Bibb County Cesare Mammarella, Downtown Business Owner Katy Ryan Prebble, interim, Mt. de Sales Academy Alveno Ross, City Council, The City of Macon Catharine Sample, Macon Arts Tim Slocum, The Medical Center of Central Georgia Jim Thomas, Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning Pam Thomasson, Intown Neighborhood Association Kathy Tripp, Neighborhood Resident Matt Wetherington, Graduate Student, Mercer University

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Todd Fagen Mark de la Vergne

POLIS STUDIO LLC James Sherrell

CIVIC ECONOMICS Matt Cunningham


Aaron Adkins Mechel Aiello Rob Apsley Greg Ascher Edward Atkinson John Baker Carolyn Barber Russ Barber Jim Barfield Jessica Barth Maryel Battin Sarah Baxter Alex Bender Michele Boothroyd Robert M. Boswell III Frank Broome Emily Brownlee John Buckner Bob Burnham Linda Buschi Mamie Bush Gigi Cabell Savana Cameron Josh Campbell Carmine Carpenter Jake Carpenter Lynn Cass Mike Cass Amy Chastain Whitney Cini Phil Comer Jane Allen Corder Don Cornett Nancy Brown Cornett Heather Bowman Cutway John Davis Lucas Davis Nathan Dees Agnes Donaldson

Suzanne Doonan Kevin Drace Wendi Drace Brock Dugger E. C. Dunwody Gene Dunwody, Jr Harris Edwards Raina Edwards Katherine Eid Tom Ellington Dan Fischer Greg Fisher Katie Fisher Jennifer Flowers Erin Garner Kay Gerhardt Tom Glennon Carol Salami Goswick Christie Grant Daniel Groce Julie Groce Janis Haley Howard Handsel Bob Hargrove Carolyn Hargrove Heather Harper Kris Hattaway Maggie Higgins Cordelia D. Holliday Lindsey Holliday Lindsey Hornsby Chris Howard Tom Huber George Jobin Lee A. Johnson Bonnie Keel Highes Kelsey Bianca Lee Mary Alice Leonard

Michael Leonard Carl Lewis Jennifer Look Eric Martinez Kelley McLain Melissa Miller Meredith Milligan Mary Alice Morgan Becky Oliver Lee Oliver Nadia Osman Doug Pearson Regina Pierce Mary Anne Richardson Tom Richardson Roger Riddle Nicholas Rizkalla Kelley Rockwell Kimberly Rogers Creighton Rosenthal Charles Rutland Michael Ryan Adam Smith Adam Smith Jon Smith Justin Smith Molly Szabo Charlie Thomas R. Thomas Pam Thommason Wimberly Tualu Bill Underwood Leslie Underwood Everett Verner Tim Vick Kyle Warise James Weatherford Wood Weatherford J. H. Webb

Chris Wells Matt Wetherington Susan Williams Dr. Howard J. Williams, Jr Lawrence Williamson Daniel Windham Jared Wright Richard Yargrough Koryn Young

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Public Meeting Participants


TABLE OF CONTENTS

I

Executive Summary ...................................................... 1

Welcome to the College Hill Corridor................................1 Purpose of the Plan ........................................................... 3 Planning Process ............................................................... 3 Vision for the College Hill Corridor & Summary of Recommendations ............................................................ 5 Where do we go from here? ............................................ 15

Introduction & Methodology..................................19

Purpose of the Plan ......................................................... 19 Project Partners .............................................................. 21 Study Boundaries ............................................................ 21 Planning Process ............................................................ 23 Public Outreach ........................................................ 24

II

Yesterday & Today ................................................. 35

Today’s Context ............................................................... 35

Prior Plans ................................................................. 37

A Quick Historical Review .............................................. 38

A City is Born ............................................................ 38 The Blossoming of the College Hill Corridor ....... 38

Community Profile – a demographic overview ............. 41

Population and Race ................................................. 41 Age .............................................................................. 43

Land Use & Development

.............................................. 45 Built Form ................................................................. 45 Land Use and Zoning ................................................ 51 Building Condition ................................................... 57

Recent Investment .................................................... 59

Economic Development .................................................. 64

Retail Characteristics .............................................. 64 Jobs/Employment ..................................................... 66 Topography and Drainage ....................................... 69 Trees ........................................................................... 71 Parks and Play Space ............................................... 73

Transportation ................................................................. 78 Existing Vehicular Conditions ................................. 79 Existing Parking Conditions .................................. 85 Existing Pedestrian Conditions ............................. 87 Existing Bicycling Conditions ................................ 90 Existing Transit Conditions ..................................... 91

Quality of Life .................................................................. 93 Summary .......................................................................... 94 Key Opportunities and Challenges ........................ 94

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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4 The Environment: A City within a Park ............. 157 Goals ................................................................... Re-plant the public realm ................................ Strategically improve park space ................... Create an urban trail system ...........................

Recommendations .................................................. 101 1 The Basics: Clean, Safe, and Branded ................ 101

5 The Look: Macon’s Urban and Historic Center 181

Goals ........................................................................ 101 Keep it clean ........................................................... 101 Keep it safe .............................................................. 103 Tell people where they are .................................... 107

2 The Vibe: College Town Cool ................................... 111

Goals ......................................................................... 111 Reinforce the arts and add new events to the calendar ................................................................... 111 Expand neighborhood engagement with Mercer ..................................................................... 120

3 The Connection: Cooling the Streets .................... 123

Goals ........................................................................ 123 Connect Mercer to downtown .............................. 123 Create a bicycling community ........................... 125 Improve the pedestrian experience .................... 139 Reduce the traffic and parking demand at Mercer ...................................................................... 143 Create a connected Medical Network ................. 146 Make youthful connections .................................. 149 Keep the connections going .................................. 153 Intersection improvements .................................. 153

157 157 163 177

Goals .................................................................... 181 Encourage a sustainable community ............. 181 Develop for impact ............................................ 185

V

Implementation ................................................... 206

Evolution of the Commission .................................. 206 Take Some Immediate Next Steps .......................... 206 Implementation Matrix and Phasing ..................... 208

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III Vision .................................................................................. 97


LIST OF FIGURES Introduction & Methodology

Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4. Figure 5.

College Hill Corridor study area...................................................................................................22 Results of The Big Map mapping exercise...................................................................................26 Results of The Big Map mapping exercise: favorite places ........................................................26 Results of The Big Map mapping exercise: where to spend the money......................................26 Visions for the vacant dry cleaners...............................................................................................2 7 Figure 6. Visions for the vacant Phillips 66.................................................................................................28 Figure 7. Visions for the vacant supermarket..............................................................................................28 Figure 8. Postcards from the future.............................................................................................................30

Yesterday & Today

Figure 9. Context Map.................................................................................................................................36 Figure 10. Historical Timeline........................................................................................................................39 Figure 11. Population Change (1990-2007)..................................................................................................41 Figure 12. Greater Metropolitan Region........................................................................................................41 Figure 13. Mercer area population as a percent of total study area population ...........................................41 Figure 14. Racial composition.......................................................................................................................42 Figure 15. Age Pyramid (2008).....................................................................................................................43 Figure 16. Income and Housing Tenure........................................................................................................44 Figure 17. Figure Ground Map......................................................................................................................46 Figure 18. Frontages Map.............................................................................................................................48 Figure 19. Major View Corridors Map............................................................................................................50 Figure 20. Land Use Map..............................................................................................................................51 Figure 21. Zoning Map..................................................................................................................................52 Figure 22. Residential Uses..........................................................................................................................53 Figure 23. Land Use Summary Diagram.......................................................................................................54 Figure 24. Vacant Land and Buildings Map...................................................................................................56 Figure 25. Building Condition Grading System.............................................................................................57 Figure 26. Building condition map.................................................................................................................58 Figure 27. Median sale price (2000-2006)....................................................................................................59 Figure 28. Institutions Map............................................................................................................................62 Figure 29. Commercial Use by Type.............................................................................................................64 Figure 30. Commercial Leakage Diagram....................................................................................................64 Figure 31. Commercial Uses Map.................................................................................................................65 Figure 32. Distribution of Medical Center Employees...................................................................................66 Figure 33. Distribution of Mercer Employees................................................................................................66 Figure 34. Distribution of City Government Employees................................................................................67 Figure 35. Major Employers Map .................................................................................................................68 Figure 36. Topography and Slope Analysis Map...........................................................................................70 Figure 37. Tree Cover Map...........................................................................................................................72 Figure 38. Parks Map....................................................................................................................................74

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 39. Major Gateways to College Hill....................................................................................................81 Figure 40. Accident History (2004-2008)......................................................................................................84 Figure 41. Surface Parking Lot Capacity and Demand.................................................................................86 Figure 42. Pedestrian Environment Grading System....................................................................................87 Figure 43. Pedestrian Environment Factor Map...........................................................................................88 Figure 44. Bus Route Map............................................................................................................................92

Recommendations

Figure 45. Existing vacant storefront and rendering of proposed reuse as art gallery or temporary live / work space ..........................................................................................................................................................115 Figure 46. Existing vacant storefront and rendering of proposed reuse for installations ...........................115 Figure 47. Rendering of proposed mural treatment at West Macon Screen ............................................. 118 Figure 48. College Town Network ............................................................................................................. 124 Figure 49. Rendering of proposed bicycling infrastructure improvements for the Corridor ....................... 126 Figure 50. Proposed Bicycle Lanes by Type ............................................................................................. 128 Figure 51. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — existing cross-section ........................................ 129 Figure 52. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — proposed cross-section: alternative 1 ............... 129 Figure 53. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — proposed cross-section: alternative 2 ............... 130 Figure 54. College between Georgia and Riverside — proposed cross-section ...................................... 130 Figure 55. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — alternative 1 with striped separation between bicycle and travel lanes ............................................................................................................................. 131 Figure 56. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — alternative 1 with a planted separation between bicycle and travel lanes ............................................................................................................................. 132 Figure 57. Forsyth between College and Spring — existing cross-section ............................................... 133 Figure 58. Forsyth between College and Spring — proposed cross-section ............................................ 133 Figure 59. Forsyth between Spring and New — existing cross-section .................................................... 134 Figure 60. Forsyth between Spring and New — proposed cross-section ................................................. 134 Figure 61. Forsyth / DT Walton Way — existing cross-section ................................................................. 134 Figure 62. Forsyth / DT Walton Way — proposed cross-section .............................................................. 134 Figure 63. Priority locations for bicycle parking ........................................................................................ 136 Figure 64. Proposed Sidewalk Improvements .......................................................................................... 140 Figure 65. Magnolia between College and Orange — existing cross-section ........................................... 141 Figure 66. Magnolia between College and Orange — proposed cross-section ........................................ 141 Figure 67. Rendering of Magnolia Street Improvements ...........................................................................142 Figure 68. Potential long-range transit improvements .............................................................................. 146 Figure 69. Medical Network ...................................................................................................................... 148 Figure 70. Learning Network .................................................................................................................... 150 Figure 71. Washington between Orange and High — existing cross-section ........................................... 151 Figure 72. Washington between Orange and High — proposed cross-section ........................................ 151 Figure 73. Rendering of proposed Washington Avenue improvements .................................................... 152 Figure 74. Forsyth / Spring / Pine intersection improvements .................................................................. 155


Figure 116. Site plan for College and Forsyth .................................................................................... 195 Figure 118. Rendering for proposed improvements at College and Forsyth .................................... 196 Figure 117. Existing intersection of Forsyth Street and College Street ............................................ 196 Figure 119. Existing block between Georgia and Hardeman ............................................................ 197 Figure 120. Existing traffic conditions and context at Georgia and Hardeman ................................. 198 Figure 121. Existing site plan at Georgia and Hardeman ................................................................. 198 Figure 122. Geargia / Hardeman redevelopment alternative 1: Supermarket ................................... 199 Figure 123. Georgia / Hardeman redevelopment alternative 2: Mixed use village ............................ 200 Figure 124. Opportunity sites ............................................................................................................ 202

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Figure 75. College / Washington intersection improvements .................................................................... 155 Figure 76. College / Georgia intersection improvements .......................................................................... 156 Figure 77. Forsyth / High / New intersection improvements ..................................................................... 156 Figure 78. College Street: Yesterday — Today — Tomorrow .................................................................... 157 Figure 79. Tree Planting ........................................................................................................................... 160 Figure 80. Different land use exert a pull on Tattnall Square Park ............................................................ 164 Figure 81. Tattnall Square Park Program .................................................................................................. 165 Figure 82. Tattnall Square Park Paths and Concept ................................................................................. 166 Figure 83. Existing Tattnall Square ............................................................................................................ 167 Figure 84. Proposed Tattnall Square site plan .......................................................................................... 168 Figure 85. Rendering of Tattnall Square improvements at College Street and Oglethorpe Street ............ 170 Figure 88. Tattnall Square Park at College Street and Coleman Avenue .................................................. 171 Figure 86. College between Coleman and Oglethorpe — existing cross-section ..................................... 171 Figure 87. College between Coleman and Oglethorpe — proposed cross-section .................................. 171 Figure 90. Proposed Daisy Park site plan ................................................................................................. 173 Figure 89. Existing Daisy Park .................................................................................................................. 173 Figure 91. St. Joseph's Catholic Church and First Baptist Church of Christ at Poplar Street ................... 175 Figure 92. Proposed expansion of Rosa Parks Square ............................................................................ 177 Figure 93. Urban Trail Network ................................................................................................................ 178 Figure 94. Spring Street Bridge — existing cross-section ........................................................................ 179 Figure 95. Spring Street Bridge — proposed cross-section: alternative 1 ................................................ 179 Figure 96. Spring Street Bridge — proposed cross-section: alternative 2 ................................................ 179 Figure 97. Existing Mercer Village and Mercer-owned properties ............................................................ 186 Figure 98. Montpelier between Johnson and Coleman — existing cross-section .................................... 187 Figure 99. Montpelier between Johnson and Coleman — proposed cross-section ................................. 187 Figure 100. Existing Mercer Village site plan ............................................................................................ 187 Figure 101. Mercer Village site plan .......................................................................................................... 188 Figure 102. Rendering of existing Mercer Village along Montpelier Avenue ............................................. 189 Figure 103. Roundabouts and redirected traffic ........................................................................................ 189 Figure 104. Rendering of proposed development and streetscape improvements ................................... 190 Figure 105. Existing Mercer-owned properties on College Street ............................................................. 191 Figure 106. Existing College Street site plan ............................................................................................. 192 Figure 107. College Street site plan .......................................................................................................... 192 Figure 108. Existing vacant dry cleaner .................................................................................................... 193 Figure 109. Potential redevelopment of vacant dry cleaner ...................................................................... 193 Figure 110. Existing vacant dry cleaner site plan ...................................................................................... 194 Figure 111. Site plan for dry cleaner .......................................................................................................... 194 Figure 112. Existing gas station sites at College and Forsyth ................................................................... 194 Figure 113. Forsyth between I-76 and College — existing cross-section .................................................. 195 Figure 114. Forsyth between I-76 and College — proposed cross-section ............................................... 195 Figure 115. Existing site plan for College and Forsyth .............................................................................. 195


1

Executive Summary Welcome to the College Hill Corridor

The College Hill Corridor is nestled in the heart of Macon. Encompassing downtown, Mercer University, the Medical Center of Central Georgia, Rose Hill and Riverside Cemeteries, and unique InTown neighborhoods, the community is a diverse collection of people, architecture, and nature. Over the years, residents have vigilantly restored many of the historic homes that serve as one of the area’s primary features, pioneering a strong community spirit that remains today. Nearby, Beall’s Hill has transformed into a mixed-income community, Mercer University is investing in bringing more retail services to students and residents, and more and more attention is focused on downtown with proposals for new housing and institutional uses. The “College Hill Corridor” is simply short-hand for what has become a dynamic community, one filled with great potential.

“historic and unique,” it is also a “missing link.” Population loss since the

But while the Corridor is

mid-1900s has drained downtown of the concentration of stores and restaurants that made living in Macon exceptional. These and other uses have been replaced with parking lots and wider roads to accommodate the growing number of commuters seeking to reach what is still the major employment center in the region. Designing the city for the car has its price. While traffic flows relatively easily to where commuters work, the road designs actively discourage walking and bicycling. Combined with visible pockets of underutilized land, the result is that despite close proximity to one another, local amenities like parks, schools, stores, and historic landmarks often feel remote and out of the way.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

The College Hill Corridor represents an opportunity to connect the dots and build a culture of reinvestment that honors the past but looks toward a bright and progressive future. It is an opportunity to improve Macon’s national and regional image, placing the City back on the map by drawing new attention to its famous, yet at times forgotten, architecture, sports, and music and generating buzz about its emerging creative vibe. The residents, students, and stakeholders that offered their time and energy to create this plan recognized these opportunities to, in effect, put Macon back on the national radar, attract more investment to the Corridor, and build a better community for all. The College Hill Corridor is a compelling idea that many have wholeheartedly embraced. It is tied less to a physical boundary than to a vision for a more vibrant community in the heart of Macon. However, to help guide the collection of data, the College Hill Corridor was defined for this plan by a one block distance from the following streets: Montpelier / Coleman; College; Forsyth (from College to 2nd Street); Hardeman / Washington (from Monroe to Forsyth); and Georgia / Mulberry (from Monroe to 2nd Street). As the process unfolded, these boundaries quickly dissolved, and many recommendations extend far beyond the initially set study area. The realization was that while there is a general center of gravity around which investment is organized, the College Hill Corridor Commission (CHCC) can and should work with stakeholders in adjacent communities to extend proposed improvements such that each investment has a ripple effect, positively impacting neighboring blocks and communities.


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College Hill Corridor study area

executive summary


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Purpose of the Plan

When the College Hill Corridor Commission (CHCC) was conceived almost a year and a half ago, a number of key goals were developed to guide the activities of the Commission. These pertinent goals directed the development of this master plan. The key goals of the plan are to:

• Create an urban design framework to guide future growth and investment along the Corridor;

• Calm traffic and encourage alternative modes of transportation including • • • • • and

walking and bicycling; Respect and honor the Corridor’s rich past; Improve open space; Improve the desirability of Macon as a place to live, work, visit, and do business; Develop an implementation strategy to guide reinvestment; Position the Corridor to access funding resources and invite public and private investment;

• Build consensus around ideas for the future, and get the community and others excited about their collective vision for the College Hill Corridor.

Planning Process

The creation of a community-driven plan, one that will serve as a unified voice for local residents, business owners, institutions, students, community leaders, and political representatives, among others, requires the participation and support of community stakeholders throughout the planning process. The public outreach conducted during the planning process initiated important conversations, brought people out of their homes, and helped the planners see the area through a series of different lenses. Interviews, a bicycle tour, walking tours, cocktail hours, focus group meetings, public meetings, postcards from the future, community mapping exercises, and online web distribution of work in progress all invited lively discussion and informed and enriched the ideas ultimately contained in this plan. The initial strategies were shared at a series of focus groups and placed online for comment. CHCC sent a link to the presentation to over 1,000 people whose concerns and encouragement helped to fine tune the ideas into a holistic plan for the Corridor. The updated strategies were then presented at a large public forum where participants were asked to identify their priority projects. These priorities are reflected in this plan’s implementation strategy. Take the time to read the vision, examine the recommendations that address the issues that concern you most, spread the word, get involved, and stay involved.

share your vision.

We had some fun and a few laughs during the public process too

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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show us the money.

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Master Plan for the College Hill Corridor The plan needs your input. Please share your vision for the future of the College Hill Corridor, its look and feel, its destinations and vibe - and remember, the beauty is in the details, so be specific!

Postcards from the future

Prioritizing the recommendations

executive summary


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Vision for the College Hill Corridor & Summary of Recommendations

“turn the music a little bit louder.” The Corridor now embraces a revitalized future – hip, historic, progressive, and unified by a commitment to vibrant public spaces, balanced streets, sustainable growth, and a viable local economy.

Location, landscape, and a pioneering spirit propelled the growth of the College Hill Corridor. It is time to

1. The Basics: Clean, Safe, and Branded – Ensure that College

Hill is clean and safe and perceived that way by local residents, downtown workers, and visitors alike. While many are proud of College Hill’s uniqueness and believe that stated concerns about crime and trash are just perceptions, perception translates to reality particularly to those less familiar with the area. The physical environment should exemplify a fresh and healthy image with clean and safe streets and a recognizable brand that capitalizes on the history, vibe, and diversity of the College Hill Corridor. Key Recommendations Include:

Keep it clean

• Expand recycling and composting programs; • Create a College Hill Corridor Business Improvement District;

Keep it safe

• Expand the presence of bicycle police; • Encourage community policing and safety initiatives such as town watch; • Expand Corridor lighting, and upgrade historic street fixtures to LED;

Tell people where they are • • • •

Create an annual calendar of events; Develop a student-produced guide to Macon; Create and distribute reusable CHCC shopping bags/totes; and Create an integrated signage and wayfinding system for the entire Corridor.

2. The Vibe: College Town Cool – Make College Hill the center

of creative expression in the region by infusing the streets and buildings with the arts and temporary events designed to promote downtown, Mercer, and InTown as vibrant, diverse, and urban. At the same time, without a strong presence of Mercer, there is no College Town Cool. The opportunity with the College Hill Corridor has long been discussed as a critical connection between Mercer and Downtown. But just as it is important to encourage Mercer students and faculty to populate downtown, it is also critical to encourage more public engagement with the campus. Key Recommendations Include:

Reinforce the arts and add new events to the calendar • Create an annual soapbox race down the hill; • Put artists to work by designing streetscape furnishings and public art; • Convert vacant storefront space for artist live / work space until the retail market improves; • Encourage roving galleries for local artists to show their work;

Expand Mercer

neighborhood

engagement

with

• Encourage more Service-Learning Projects to get students out of the class and into the community;

• Develop a scavenger hunt for incoming Mercer Students; • Encourage new University courses to serve the broader community; and • Market Mercer sports and music events.

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Existing storefront

Potential race down the hill.

Convert vacant storefronts into exhibit space for art installations

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3. The Connection: Cooling the Streets – Encourage walking and bicycling, slow the traffic down, and restore priority and space on the roads to users other than cars. These improvements will instill a street-level vibrancy that is not present today, reduce traffic congestion and emissions, and improve the safety for vehicles. Key Recommendations Include:

Connect Mercer to Downtown and Encourage a Bicycling Community • • • •

Stripe separated and shared bike lanes along the College Hill Corridor; Install bike parking along the College Hill Corridor; Expand bike sharing; Establish an education campaign/bike ambassador program;

Extend Connections and Improve Intersections • Improve the connection to the Hilton Garden;

• Improve sidewalks and crosswalks around schools, parks, and museums; • Install roundabouts at key intersections;

• Install bumpouts, change the curb radii, and improve traffic management at key intersections to improve pedestrian safety; and • Lobby to remove Georgia Department of Transportation jurisdiction from key local roads.

Improve the Pedestrian Experience • Bury the utilities;

• Widen sidewalks;

Reduce the traffic and parking demand at Mercer • Bring car sharing to Macon, and start the program at Mercer University; • Encourage bicycling among students and faculty; • Enhance the University parking permit program;

Create a connected Medical Network

• Encourage walking among employees/patients/visitors; • Reduce parking demand;

Existing streetscape

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Improve pedestrian and bicycle safety across the Appleton Bridge by introducing a bike lane and buffering the sidewalk and bike lane with planters


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Existing streetscape

Widen the sidewalk and add public art at children’s eye-level to make walking to school along Washington Avenue safer and more engaging

Existing streetscape

Add a bike lane along Magnolia Street and improve the sidewalk across the street from Washington Park with trees, benches, and a mural or living wall

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4. The Environment: A City within a Park – Re-plant and re-

seed the Corridor to bring back the “City within a Park” ideal. Street trees and parks were early additions to the College Hill Corridor and exemplified Macon’s commitment to the environment. The analysis indicated, however, that, despite a few beautiful moments, the lush landscape that once defined the area has diminished. Much can and should be done to strategically improve and connect open spaces to improve the quality of life for all residents. Key Recommendations Include:

Re-plant the public realm

• Fill the gaps in the urban forest; • Upgrade retention walls as ‘living walls’ with new landscaping; • Integrate stormwater management into the streetscape;

Strategically improve park space

• Improve Tattnall Square as a centerpiece of College Hill; • Re-design Daisy Park; • Create a plaza as a forecourt to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and the First Baptist Church of Christ;

Existing site plan of Daisy Park

Create an urban trail system

• Add trail amenities to key streets; • Make it safer to cross the Ocmulgee River; and • Link to the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center.

Redesign Daisy Park and introduce a roundabout to manage traffic near the Medical Center

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Existing Tattnall Square site plan (far left) Improve Tattnall Square’s edges with new and varied plantings, introduce a new path network, and add an entry plaza at College and Oglethorpe

Existing streetscape

Improve the entrance to Tattnall Square at College and Oglethorpe with new crosswalks, denser plantings along the street, a new welcoming plaza, and reconfigured parking

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Existing streetscape

Improve the College Street edge of Tattnall Square with a new sidewalk at street level, steps leading into the park, and a planted buffer between the street and the park. Reclaim a lane of traffic to accommodate this extension of the park, narrowing the street and making it more efficient.

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Existing streetscape

Extend the sidewalks in front of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and First Baptist Church of Christ to narrow the street, slow traffic, and create forecourts for gathering in front of these historic and beautiful institutions.

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5. The Look: Macon’s Historic and Urban Center

– Fill the gaps in the urban fabric, and infuse the Corridor with a greater range of uses and activity while protecting the character of historic and established neighborhoods. Encompassing Mercer University, the Medical Center, and downtown, College Hill is already the nexus of Macon’s major urban amenities and institutions. To match the physical experience of the Corridor with the ideal of a diverse and historic intown community, strategic investment in housing and, where appropriate, commercial services is required to serve the needs of existing and future residents and fill the gaps in the fabric of the community.

Encourage a sustainable community • Market small spaces to small businesses; • Recruit to fill retail niches; • Promote green building;

Develop for impact

• Add density and a mix of uses to Mercer Village; • Redevelop Mercer owned properties along College Street for new student

Existing Mercer Village site plan

housing; • Fill the critical gaps between the University and downtown by redeveloping the vacant laundry and the intersection of College and Forsyth; and • Encourage redevelopment of the block between Hardeman and Georgia.

Build new, mixed-use student housing to add density and vibrancy to Mercer Village, and introduce roundabouts to calm traffic and create a new gateway to Mercer’s campus

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View of an activated Mercer Village looking down Montpelier toward the bridge and roundabout with new mixed-use student housing on either side of the street Rendering by DIGSAU

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Where do we go from here?

As the lead entity and sponsor of this plan, the CHCC will need to present this plan before a number of potential funders to jump-start the implementation of key recommendations. Some of the plan’s recommendations are expensive, long-term improvements but many others can be accomplished in the next year with hard work and persistence by the CHCC and very modest funding. But funding will only go so far. A comprehensive master plan like this one requires a lot of energy by many people dedicated to making the College Hill Corridor a better community. To that end, a network of volunteers will need to be cultivated to ensure that these concepts lead to reality. At the last public meeting alone, 75 volunteers signed on to help with implementation. Get involved, stay involved, and enlist your friends and neighbors in the effort to improve the Corridor.

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get involved, stay involved. Volunteers sign up to help with plan implementation

executive summary


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I. Introduction introduction


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Introduction & Methodology

Purpose of the Plan

this place is nice... check out that view

Macon is rich in history, unique institutional uses, musical legacy, an attractive downtown, and a diverse population. In short, Macon has a great story to tell. This plan represents the story of the College Hill Corridor past, present, and potential future. It is based on the hopes, dreams, concerns, and ideas of those that live, work, play, and learn in the area. These individuals have already recognized the College Hill Corridor’s potential by investing their time and money to improve its potential for success. The overarching purpose of this plan is to support the pioneering commitment many have made to the Corridor with a clear vision and achievable strategies for the future. For many years, Macon’s story has been lost amid hefty challenges faced by the City, from population loss and rising poverty rates to decreasing tax ratables. Macon is certainly not alone in this regard. Cities across the country, particularly mid-size cities, have struggled to find a sustainable revitalization approach, as funds dedicated to urban areas declined and the surrounding suburbs expanded. Many fared far worse than Macon and, therefore, have a steeper hill to climb. But as cities worked to find their voice within expanding regions, opportunity has emerged slowly based on changing household sizes, changing preferences, and changing lifestyles. Demographic shifts signal the biggest change. As the baby boomers age, they are becoming “empty nesters” looking for walkable, urban neighborhoods that offer attractive services. The influx of empty nesters into cities of all sizes began to shore up the market and improve confidence in downtowns. At the same time, the “Millennial” generation has started leaving the nest, seeking the same kinds of alternative living patterns as empty nesters. Many cities have recognized that to fully capitalize on the influx of young Millennials, these individuals would need to be encouraged to stick around after school, set up businesses, and rent or buy houses locally – in sum, to repopulate and invest in downtowns. Attracting and retaining creative young professionals has become a primary economic development objective. To do so requires a new approach to city-building, one that capitalizes on each community’s unique qualities while planning for new services and amenities that appeal to a wide range of residents.

The College Hill Corridor’s impressive architecture, magnificent homes and porches, lush greenery, musical legacy, and textured history help Macon draw “urban nesters.”

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Cities, particularly downtowns and in-town communities that offer the right mix of housing, services, and parks, are poised to attract these urban nesters. Many cities have to build this type of opportunity on the backs of a few remaining assets. Macon has the College Hill Corridor.


The College Hill Corridor represents the best of what urban communities offer – diversity, creativity, and a strong sense of place generated by a long and storied history as well as an involved public. The area is a collection of some of Macon’s largest institutions including Mercer University and the Medical Center of Central Georgia and consequently a hub of regional employment. It boasts beautiful parks, extraordinary cemeteries, restored and historic homes, and a number of retail services at Mercer and in downtown. Unfortunately, many of these amenities are separated from one another by too much asphalt, underutilized land, and poorly defined connections. In mid-size cities like Macon, linking and leveraging assets to build confidence in the market is even more important than in larger cities. It is time to connect the dots. The College Hill Corridor Commission (CHCC) was created to do so. This plan is broad in its focus and aspirations. Strategies are identified to connect Mercer with downtown, but the greater intent is to improve the quality of life for all residents. For this reason, this plan is an opportunity not just for the College Hill Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods but the entire City. The ultimate benefit is putting Macon back on the national radar, drawing more investment to the community, and building a better community for all.

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The key goals of the plan are to:

• Reconnect the area’s many amenities within one interconnected network of housing, open space, shopping, and services;

• Create an urban design framework to guide future growth and investment along the Corridor;

• Calm traffic and encourage alternative modes of transportation including walking and bicycling;

• Respect and honor the Corridor’s rich past; • Improve open space, landscaping, and tree plantings to bolster the “City within a park” ideal that guided Macon’s development;

• Improve the desirability of Macon as a place to live, work, visit, and do business;

• Coordinate the recommendations of existing plans and proposals with a

renewed vision for the community based on the ideas that emerged from this resident-driven process; • Develop an implementation strategy to guide reinvestment; • Position the Corridor to access funding resources and invite public and private investment; and • Build consensus around ideas for the future, and get the community and others excited about their collective vision for the College Hill Corridor.

Left to right: historic home on Georgia Avenue; Phillips 66 gas station at College and Forsyth Streets; historic light fixture; H&H Restaurant on Forsyth Street.

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Project Partners

College Hill Corridor Commission (CHCC) is a diverse commission co-created by the City of Macon and Mercer University to foster a physical, cultural, and social path connecting Mercer University and downtown.  The Commission’s primary goals are to make the Corridor bicycle and pedestrian friendly, add economic value to the city’s tax base, beautify residential and commercial areas, attract and retain creative young professionals, and program fun public events. With tireless ambition to promote positive change in College Hill and the lives of its residents, CHCC commissioned the College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan as a guide for the organization’s advocacy, outreach, and efforts over the next five to 10 years and as a tool to build further citizen involvement in the potential changes. In turn, community members and stakeholders have welcomed the chance to have their voices heard, their concerns, ideas, and priorities documented. Community members played an important role in the planning process, ensuring that it was, in fact, a resident-driven initiative. Over 130 people participated in this study. These community members played an integral role in informing the analysis, enriching our understanding of the place with a wealth of information, anecdotes and memories, questions and challenges.

Their words help tell the story of this report.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Study Boundaries

The planning team was initially asked to review opportunities along Montpelier Street, College Street between Mercer and Georgia Avenue, and along Forsyth Street and Washington Avenue heading a few blocks toward downtown. Recognizing the importance and potential of the project, the planning team extended these boundaries to encompass a broader study area. The approach was to concentrate on collecting data for specific corridors and amenities like Tattnall Square and extend the study area one block in either direction for context. The corridors include:

• • • • • •

Montpelier and Coleman to Ash; College Street from Coleman to Riverside Drive; Forsyth from College to Poplar; Washington from College to Cotton; Hardeman from Monroe to College; and Georgia / Mulberry from Monroe to Cotton.

While these study boundaries allowed the planning team to set some limits for the parcel by parcel data collection, socio-economic and employment data was collected for a wider area encompassing adjacent neighborhoods as well as the City, County, and region. This plan’s recommendations, therefore, include ideas that reach beyond the study area shown on the analysis maps.


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Figure 1. College Hill Corridor study area

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Planning Process

The four-month planning process for the College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan began in September 2008 and ended in January 2009.

Project Phases

The College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village planning process, led by the Interface Studio team and overseen by the College Hill Corridor Commission, consisted of three phases, all of which are now complete:

1

The Research and Existing Conditions Phase, defined by observation, research, and outreach to assess and determine area needs included:

• A parcel-by-parcel survey of the College Hill Corridor to create an up-to-date land use map and

determine the physical conditions of the area; • An in-depth examination of the physical environment to assess the existing commercial and retail mix, sales trends, the distribution of institutions and service providers, the quality of the natural environment, architectural value and visual interest, local traffic and circulation patterns, the transit system, parking resources, and pedestrian amenities; • Census research coupled with Claritas estimates and projections to evaluate demographic and socioeconomic changes within the Corridor over time; • A review of historic maps and photographs as wall as existing relevant planning documents; • A public outreach initiative designed to get the gossip on the ground and access the qualitative aspects of the neighborhood; and, finally, • Processing the information collected during the analysis to identify opportunities and challenges for the future of the College Hill Corridor.

3 The Final Master Plan Phase included: • A refined set of recommendations in response to the public input gathered at the close of Phase 2;

• A Draft College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

to CHCC for review and distribution to key community leaders and stakeholders; • An Action and Phasing Strategy that defines priorities and indicates a timeframe and estimated costs for each recommendation; and • A Final Master Plan after community approval. The College Hill Corridor Commission, its coalition of involved neighborhood institutions and leaders, and all interested community members now assume responsibility for the College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan, its adoption, and its implementation.

2 The Preliminary Recommendations Phase included: • Best Practices and Precedents research – a compilation of successful techniques for achieving change – collected from the region and beyond, to determine a relevant set of innovative and attainable planning strategies; • A list of goals and objectives based upon public input; • A series of preliminary recommendations for achieving such goals and balancing observed trends and projections with desired outcomes; and • Presenting the preliminary recommendations to the community for feedback and critique at focus groups and a public meeting.

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- roll up sleeves - get started


Public Outreach

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The creation of a community-driven plan, one that will serve as a unified voice for local residents, business owners, institutions, students, community leaders, and political representatives, among others, requires the participation and support of community stakeholders throughout the planning process. As such, the planning process strove not only engage the public, but also to help build a sense of community among the College Hill Corridor’s diverse constituency. Over the past four months, the CHCC and the Interface Studio team talked, listened, and brainstormed with community members using a number of methods and techniques.

InTown Neighbors Cocktail Hour

At the outset of the project, the planning team and CHCC talked with 20 to 30 neighbors at a cocktail hour held on College Street. The event was an opportunity for residents to give the planning team an introduction to the local history, discuss their hopes for the project, and share some gossip about what it takes to plan in Macon.

Interviews

15 interviews were conducted with a sample of residents, community leaders, local developers, service providers, and political representatives. These interviews gave the planning team a window into the opportunities and challenges of the College Hill Corridor. The interviews were supplemented with a focus group discussion with Mercer University students over dinner during which the students shared their observations and concerns about being a student in Macon.

Bicycle and Walking Tours

CHCC organized a bicycle tour of the community with the Bear Bikes program and two walking tours: one for the Corridor and one for the Ocmulgee River Trail. All tours were advertised and open to the public. The bicycle tour and walking tour each had about 20 people in attendance and allowed the planning team to hear from residents and students about the various issues that inhibit walking and bicycling in the area. Residents and the planning team were able to discuss ideas on the spot, some of which have carried through to this plan’s recommendations.

Focus Groups

After completion of the analysis, the planning team generated a number of ideas and shared them in three focus groups. The focus groups were advertised and open to the public and quickly filled with representatives from distinct stakeholder groups in the neighborhood, each with unique concerns and opinions regarding the future of the area and the City. Together, the Interface Studio team and CHCC conducted discussions with the following constituencies: a group of residents, a group representing local Universities, a group of business owners. CHCC/Bear Bikes tour and CHCC walking tour.

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Public Meetings

Two open public meetings were held as forums to discuss major findings and ideas. These included:

• A public meeting held in November brought the Existing Conditions phase to a

close. 100 people attended the meeting, watching as the Interface Studio team presented the analysis findings. Meeting attendees asked questions, offered comments and critique, and then helped the planners jumpstart the plan’s Recommendations phase by providing their insights and some initial ideas about the potential future. • A public meeting held in January to share the plan’s recommendations attracted 98 participants. The team presented the key recommendations and asked the community to help prioritize them. The community was also encouraged to keep the momentum going by signing up as volunteers to help implement the plan.

The Big Map

At the first public meeting, participants were asked to use stickers to identify where they live, what they valued most in the corridor and, if they had a lot of money to spend, where they would spend it to improve the area. The results proved dramatic.

• Favorite place – The dots were quickly concentrated in three

distinct areas: Washington Park secured the most votes with 32% identifying the park as their favorite locations; Cherry Street (from 2nd to MLK) garnered 22% of the votes; and Tattnall Square received 18%. The remaining votes were scattered across the Corridor. • Where to spend some dough – Although not as extreme in terms of the percentages, a few locations did emerge as clear concerns for residents and warrant change. These include: Tattnall Square with 22% of the votes; 15% for Cherry Street (closer to 1st Street); 12% for the Appleton Bridge; and 11% for the intersection of College and Forsyth. The remaining dots were concentrated at Mercer Village, on the vacant supermarket behind the post office and on Poplar Street.

The November public meeting

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Figure 3. Results of The Big Map mapping exercise: favorite places

Figure 2. Results of The Big Map mapping exercise

Figure 4. Results of The Big Map mapping exercise: where to spend the money

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Resident-Driven Site Planning

At the first public meeting, the planning team identified three key sites on large posterboards, encouraging people jot down what they would like to see built there – an ad-hoc brainstorming session that saw many residents discuss and debate ideas. Listening in to the conversations provided a lot of insight into priorities and the differing opinions some neighbors expressed. Despite some mild disagreements, clear direction was provided.

• The vacant laundry at the Appleton Bridge – Residents’ ideas by and large envisioned this site as an active stop along the way to downtown.

Ideas included a Krispy Kreme [“I would actually walk there for that”], beer and laundry, small bookstore, artist gallery, convenience store, a gym, and many types of restaurants. Many emphasized the need to include housing above. • The vacant Phillips 66 at College and Forsyth – The majority of ideas identified this site for an active commercial use (retaining the building if possible) including potentially a small grocery, 24-hour diner, pharmacy, bike shop, café, bar, deli, or funky bistro. Some also noted the hope that the commercial use would include loft apartments above. • The vacant supermarket behind the post office – The hopes for the redevelopment of this site emphasized a grocery. Other ideas included a micro-cinema and a draft house, skating rink, restaurants, entertainment, and mixed-use development including housing.

Participants at the first public meeting share ideas for sites.

Figure 5. Visions for the vacant dry cleaners

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A different take!

Figure 6. Visions for the vacant Phillips 66

Figure 7. Visions for the vacant supermarket

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GA.

“To everyone who moved away — you should see us now.”

0

C ON ,

“people spend enough time together in common spaces to have a real sense of neighborhood!”

MA

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“this is a dream come true! I can now walk to the grocery, the bakery, the library, the theatre, to dinner at a restaurant, or to shop. Come to visit me so that I can show you!”

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always something going on

“There is in the area…music is playing, art is on display, people are playing sports in the park, movies are showing… and it’s wonderful! People of all ages are walking in

the Corridor. There’s something for everyone.”

“A bustling mix of families, fun, faith, and extraordinary future. And Mercer University which sits at the economic center is thriving!!!”

“It’s a grand place to visit and a wonderful place to live.” “Great food, great fun. Smiling faces everywhere. The most diverse community; socially, economically, ethnically.”

“The presence of bike trails everywhere makes me happy!” Quotes from the postcards from the future

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Figure 8. Postcards from the future

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Master Plan for the College Hill Corridor The plan needs your input. Please share your ideas about how you would like to see Tattnall Square improved by 2028 - and remember, the beauty is in the details, so be specific!

Postcards from the Future

Residents were asked to write postcards from the year 2028 and tell us what they see. Three postcard options were available: one for the Corridor as a whole; one addressing walking and bicycling in the area; and one specifically for Tattnall Square. The postcards were distributed at the public meeting and placed on-line as an additional opportunity for residents to offer their vision for the future. 60 postcards were completed, providing a rich collection of ideas of imagery – a testament to the local creativity and commitment to the Corridor and the City as a whole.

Participants at the first public meeting writing postcards from the future

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show us the money.

?

The Basics: Clean, Safe, and Branded

The Vibe: College Town Cool

The Connection: Cooling the Streets

Participants at the public meeting in January spent pretend money to choose their top recommendation priorities

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The Environment: City within a Park

The Look: Macon’s Urban Center


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Show Us the Money

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After the presentation at the second public meeting, participants were given four bills in denominations of $10, $20, $50, and $100, and asked to “spend their money “ on their top four recommendations for the Corridor. This exercise gave people an opportunity to discuss the recommendations with each other and the planning team members. The results gave the Interface Studio team members insight into the priorities of the community. Clear winners emerged from the process, as the top ten recommendations garnered over half of the votes, and 66% of highest denomination bills – $100 – were spent on the top ten recommendations. The TOP TEN recommendations chosen by participants were:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Plant trees Stripe bike lanes along the Corridor Improve Tattnall Square Promote green building Bury the utilities Redevelop College/Forsyth and the vacant dry cleaners Market small spaces for small businesses Install bike parking Expand Corridor lighting and upgrade to LED Upgrade retention walls to living walls

Get Involved, Stay Involved Participants were asked to stay involved in the process by volunteering to serve on an implementation committee. Sign up sheets at the meeting were provided for each of the five recommendation categories: The Basics, The Vibe, The Connection, The Environment, and The Look. This allowed people to volunteer according to their specific interests and priorities. A total of 75 people signed up to volunteer: 10 for The Basics, 14 for The Vibe, 15 for The Connection, 17 for The Environment, and 19 for The Look.

Web Presentations The analysis and recommendations presentations made at public meetings and focus groups were placed online for wide community comment. An email blast to over 1,000 people alerted them to the information available online. The buzz has been great; we hope it continues! 75 participants at the January public meeting volunteered to help implement the plan

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II. Existing Conditions existing conditions


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II Yesterday and Today Today’s Context

Macon is a city of many names, a reflection of the rich history that has evolved from its prime location on key transportation routes and its natural assets. The New York Times in 1895 hailed “The Central City” for both its beauty: “it is a picturesque city with broad avenues, luxuriant foliage, and undulating surface,” and its industry: “Macon is conspicuous for the number of her railroads, the magnitude of her jobbing trade, the number of bales of cotton handled…”1 Today commonly known as the “Heart of Georgia” for its location in the middle of the state, Macon is at the center of major institutional, cultural, economic, and natural assets in the region and is located less than 90 miles from Atlanta. The City is the county seat of Bibb County and anchors one of the State’s largest metropolitan areas, which includes Bibb, Crawford, Monroe, Twiggs, Houston, Jones, and Peach Counties. Still at the heart of key transportation corridors, today’s Macon sits at the intersection of two interstate highways – I-75 and I-16. It is also served by the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and Herbert Smart Downtown Airport. Macon is the base for growing “meds and eds” institutions, and its downtown hosts a large number of cultural and entertainment venues, including the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the Tubman African-American Museum, and restored historic theaters. Major educational institutions include Mercer University, Wesleyan College, Macon State College, Central Georgia Technical College, and the Georgia College & State University’s Center for Graduate and Professional Learning. The Medical Center of Central Georgia in downtown Macon is the second largest hospital in Georgia and treats patients from 80% of the State’s counties. Many of these assets are within, or adjacent to, the College Hill Corridor – a concentration unique to the region. 1

“City of Macon, GA.” The New York Times, June 8, 1895.

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“The Central City”

“Heart of Georgia”

View of downtown Macon, the Medical Center, and Mercer University

But in addition to entertainment and employment, those in the College Hill Corridor are also within easy reach of natural assets and outdoor recreational opportunities. Aside from the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail which runs right through downtown, the Corridor is only a few miles from Lake Tobesofkee, the Oconee National Forest, and Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and a few hours drive to the Atlantic coast. In recent decades the Macon metropolitan area has been growing, but such growth has been linked to the City of Macon’s decline. The transportation routes that have fed the metropolitan area’s growth have made it possible for residents and businesses to expand ever farther from the city center. College Hill has experienced the impacts of this decline, most notably in downtown. With a diminished urban population, many of the localserving businesses have moved away from downtown Macon. With regional shopping destinations like the Shoppes at River Crossing absorbing the bulk of the area’s retail dollars, money is being pumped out of the College Hill Corridor instead of supporting local businesses. The result is that College Hill residents travel outside of the area and away from downtown for groceries, dining, and shopping; workers have very limited lunch or after work options; and many students, with nowhere to go, stay on campus or leave town rather than explore the City. There is great opportunity to capture more dollars locally and in the process attract and retain residents, businesses, and students.


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Figure 9. Context Map

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Prior Plans

This College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan builds upon the good work that preceded the Commission. The planning team has studied previous planning documents and talked with those most involved to understand both the concepts and the barriers to implementing specific recommendations. Although many plans with an indirect impact on College Hill have been completed, the following plans have directly and intimately addressed the Corridor:

InTown Historic District Neighborhood Preservation Plan (1979): This plan kick-started the neighborhood preservation movement, setting a clear framework for the revitalization of College Hill. The plan was instrumental to preserving the historic and residential character of the InTown neighborhood and addressing the impact of commercial uses such as the Medical Center, offices, and parking. The plan’s goal was to preserve the heritage of the district while improving the neighborhood’s livability and economic viability.

• Historical perspective from InTown Historic District Neighborhood Preservation Plan

• TEAM CREATIVE MACON

2007

C OLLEGE H ILL R EVISITED INSIDE THIS REPORT

Background

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College Hill

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Triangle Center

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Tattnall Square Park

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Beautification/Branding

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Identifying Retail Opportunities

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Future Vision

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Team Creative Macon: Veronica Allen Kimberly Humphries Alex Morrison Matt Wetherington

Dr. Peter Brown

April 5, 2007

E X E C U T I V E S U M M A RY Macon is primed with untapped opportunities, whether it is the 30,000 college students in the area or the soonto-be bustling downtown. The historic College Hill Corridor connects these two important economic strengths. An untapped opportunity in itself, The College Hill Corridor is situated directly between Mercer University and Downtown. It contains all the amenities to become an attractive college-town community. There are nodes for retail, several parks, and even some great vistas. There are several nodes for retail in the College Hill Corridor. First, there is the Mercer Triangle Center. The Triangle Center has several storefronts ready for investors to move in. This is a key step in getting Mercer students to take the first steps off campus

• and into the College Hill Corridor. Other key areas are the Joshua Cup area (the old College Hill Commons), the ForsythCollege intersection, the Forsyth-New intersection, and Appleton Lane. Parks are excellent attractors and destinations within themselves. They are good places for community events and are just pleasant to see. With some beautification, Tattnall Square, Daisy,

and Appleton Parks can get people moving downtown. Washington Park is already a key destination in the city. These locations bring people from throughout the community to connect and interact in common areas. We propose to reconnect all of these amenities and the people within them through manageable steps.

Prior plans

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Urban Design Plan and Economic Development Strategy (2001): NewTown Macon identified eight initiatives, several of which have already been implemented, including the redevelopment of Terminal Station, the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, and several streetscape and public place enhancements, notably the Walter Hood design for Poplar Street and the Cherry Street Plaza. Beall’s Hill-Central South Neighborhood Master Plan (2001): The proximity of the Beall’s Hill neighborhood to College Hill makes the recommendations in this plan important to consider, especially with regard to connections. Two recommendations in the plan are particularly relevant to the Corridor and have been implemented: the conversion of the Oglethorpe Homes public housing development into a mixed-income community and the construction of an improved pedestrian bridge over the railroad at Hazel Street which connects Beall’s Hill to Tattnall Square Park. College Hill Revisited (2007): The College Hill Revisited plan was the genesis of the College Hill Corridor Commission. Completed by students as a part of a service learning project at Mercer University, the plan identified several strategies to retain the area’s college students and connect Mercer University with downtown Macon, including introducing student-friendly retail at Mercer Village and the old Phillips 66 gas station, and improving Tattnall Square. The work helped raise dollars for new events as well as this master plan.


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“Queen Inland of the South”

“Seven Hilled City”

Left to right: (top) Acme Brewing Company, ca. 1894; (bottom) North Tinsley Corn House, ca. 1955; College Street, ca. 1940s; Tattnall Square Presbyterian Church; Wesleyan College on College Street Source: Georgia Archives, all except far right, China Welfare Institute

A Quick Historical Review

College Hill is a mix of elegant mansions, charming Victorian homes, stately campuses, and parks. Located on the Fall Line where the Piedmont Plateau meets the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Macon offers striking topography and dramatic views which are best appreciated from College Hill.

A City is Born

The area around the Ocmulgee River was inhabited as early as 12,000 B.C. The remnants of this early settlement can be seen at the Ocmulgee National Monument Park. In 1806, on President Thomas Jefferson’s orders, Fort Hawkins was built to serve as a frontier outpost and military distribution point. Shortly after, in 1823, the City of Macon was founded as the seat of Bibb County. Envisioned as “The City of Parks,” the city founders laid out Macon with wide avenues and squares and two commons, and required property owners to plant shade trees on the front of their lots through an ordinance. The first shade trees were planted in 1826 and contributed to the City’s reputation as luxuriantly green. The Ocmulgee River played a major part in the growth of the City, building it as a trading hub. By the mid-1830s, Macon was the trading center for the region’s cotton and agriculture industries. This position was further strengthened with the construction of

extensive rail links that by 1842 connected it to the ports on the Atlantic coast. The City was one of the largest wholesale markets in the south for virtually all types of goods. At the turn of the Century, its two most popular hotels saw traffic of an average 120 arrivals a day. The City’s thriving economy garnered it the name “Queen Inland of the South.” Manufacturing followed Macon’s commercial boom with foundries, brickyards, and textile and cotton mills. In the 20th Century, World War II prompted civic leaders to lobby for the construction of a military base near Macon, resulting in the Robins Air Force Base, Georgia’s largest industrial installation, 18 miles south of Macon in Houston County.

The Blossoming of the College Hill Corridor

Macon’s economic growth in the 1830s and 1840s led to a boom in the construction of houses on present-day College Hill, which was formerly the City’s North Western Common. The grand estates on the hill built in Classical or Greek Revival architecture lent Macon another nickname, the “Seven Hilled City,” a name shared by ancient Rome. The largest and most historically significant houses are found on the top of the hill along College Street north of Georgia Avenue, and along the streets bordering Coleman Hill Park which offers the best views of downtown Macon.

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Figure 10. Historical Timeline

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“Song and Soul of the South”

“College Town Cool”

Left to right: Market on the Green (Source: City Market on the Green); Pleasant Hill Community Garden (Source: American Community Gardening Association); College Hill Corridor Commission movies in the park; Macon Venue Project poster.

College Hill, as its name suggests, is home to several educational institutions. Macon has the distinction of being home to Wesleyan College, the first college in world chartered to grant degrees to women in 1836. The school built its campus in the center of College Hill in 1839 on the site of the current post office. Though Wesleyan moved its campus in 1953, its legacy remains in historic markers and memories. Mercer University, founded in 1833 in Penfield, moved to Macon in 1871 to the southern end of College Hill. Mercer’s Law School anchors the northern end of the Corridor. The Georgia Academy for the Blind, incorporated in 1852, was also located in College Hill until moving to Vineville in 1906. The predecessor of today’s Medical Center of Central Georgia, the Macon Hospital, was founded in 1895. College Hill contains some of Macon’s most famous parks and green spaces. It is bounded to the north by the historic Rose Hill Cemetery. Founded in 1840, the cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers scenic trails and views. In the middle of the College Hill Corridor is Washington Park, a jewel-like park with steep sloping walls and a waterfall. At the southern end is Tattnall Square Park. As mentioned in the Mercer student report, the park has great potential to bridge the gap between town and gown given its proximity to Mercer University and the surrounding residential neighborhoods, its size, and its programming possibilities.

Aside from institutions, Macon and the College Hill Corridor are notable for their sizeable contributions to American pop music, hence the nickname, “Song and Soul of the South.” Macon luminaries include Little Richard, who got his start singing gospel in church, Otis Redding, Lena Horne, and the Allman Brothers, whose first album cover was shot right on College Street. Capricorn Records was founded in Macon with offices on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Avenue. Music permeates life in Macon, not only in the exhibition halls of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame or in dedicated street names, but also in the pride of local businesses decorated with old music memorabilia, in the College Hill Corridor Commission’s gospel brunches in Washington Park, and the do-it-yourself initiative of the Macon Venue Project. Events in Macon run the gamut from the venerable Cherry Blossom Festival, an international event which has been held since 1982, to the new and growing Macon Film and Video Festival, now in its fourth year. Civic engagement has brought about community amenities such as the Pleasant Hill Community Gardens, the Taste of Pleasant Hill, and the return of the farmer’s market to its historic location on Poplar as the Market on the Green. Fun events such as the 11th Hour’s Halloween Thriller performances and concerts and movies in the park are priming College Hill for yet another nickname: “College Town Cool.” Indeed, the youthful energy that has embraced and carried on Macon’s traditions and expanded them to create new ones is poised to bring College Hill to the next chapter of its story.

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Community Profile – a demographic overview

Reflecting a pattern of out-migration from the City over the last half of the Century, the City of Macon and the study area have not faired as well in terms of population growth as Bibb County or the greater region which includes Bibb, Crawford, Monroe, Twiggs, Houston, Jones, and Peach counties. Since 1990, the population of the City of Macon has decreased in contrast to the county population which has remained stable and the regional population which has expanded significantly. The regional redistribution of people has taken its toll on all of Macon’s communities including the College Hill Corridor. In measures of related indicators like income levels and homeownership rates, College Hill performs more poorly than the City which, in turn, lags behind both the County and region.

Population and Race

Data from the 2000 Census shows the study area population declined by 13% from its 1990 population of 4,913 to 4,296 in 2000, a slightly higher rate of decline than Macon, which saw its population fall 9% between 1990 and 2000 from 106,612 to 97,255 people. However, the block group that contains Mercer University bucked this trend. Between 1990 and 2000, the population grew 12% in this block group from 1,346 to 1,504, and is projected to grow to 1,630 by 2008 and 1,709 by 2013. In 2000, this block group accounted for 35% of the total population of the study area and is projected to grow to 40% by 2013.

Mercer

Figure 11. Population Change (1990-2007) Source: Claritas

Figure 12. Greater Metropolitan Region

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 13. Mercer area population as a percent of total study area population Source: Claritas


In contrast to the shrinking population of the study area and City, Bibb County and the region both grew over the same 10 year period, by 3% and 13% respectively. Projections to 2007 show the City continuing the trend of decline, while the study area remains steady. Meanwhile, 2007 projections show the region growing by 22% from the 1990 population, with much of the growth occurring in Houston and Monroe Counties. Both counties show a 47% increase in population between 1990 and 2007.

Racially, the study area was predominantly white (68%) in 2000. The black population makes up 27% of the study area, while the remaining 5% of the population is made up of people who identified as Asian or other. In contrast, the City of Macon was predominantly black (62% of the city population) in 2000, with white residents making up 35% of the population. Bibb County was split more evenly with 47% of the population black and 50% white. With race playing such an important role in the City’s history, it is important to note that the College Hill Corridor is within immediate proximity to neighborhoods that are predominantly black. Given this local diversity, one of this study’s objectives was to identify opportunities to blur physical and socio-economic boundaries between communities.

Figure 14. Racial composition Source: US Census 2000

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Age

The study area’s age distribution differs dramatically from that of Macon due to the student population of Mercer University. Estimates for 2008 show college-age males and females (age 18-20) making up 13% and 17% respectively of College Hill’s total population. This is an immense change from the City as a whole where 2% of males and 4% of females are between the ages of 18 and 20. Over 90% of the college-age population in College Hill resides in the block group that contains Mercer University. College Hill also shows a high percentage of senior citizens particularly with regard to females over the age of 85 years. These age groups are found in the highest concentration in the block groups that contain the senior housing and assisted living units off of Forsyth and College Street. While other age categories lag City averages, it should be noted, anecdotally, that there is a growing number of families living in College Hill with young children. Because these children are often under the age of 5, these statistics do not appear in 2000 Census data and are often not accounted for in population estimates.

Figure 15. Age Pyramid (2008) Source: Claritas

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

They might not show up in the Census, but young kids are an important part of the Corridor.


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The City of Macon and College Hill also trailed the County in median household income. In 2000, the median household income in Macon was $27,405 compared to $34,532 in the County. The median household income in College Hill was even lower, at $17,180. Accordingly, the percent of the population below the poverty level in Macon and the study area in 2000 was higher, at 25% and 31% respectively, than in the County (19%). While the extremely low incomes and high poverty rates in College Hill is due, in part, to a number of families that are in fact poor, they are also the result of a large student population which often does not report any income to the Census.

Census data from 2000 indicates that the homeownership rate increases the further one is from downtown and College Hill. In 2000, only 16% of the occupied units in College Hill were owner-occupied, while 84% of occupied units were renter-occupied. This low homeownership rate, partly the result of many student renters, deviates sharply from the national homeownership rate of 66%, which is matched closely by the 67% homeownership rate found at the regional level. Macon and the County also fell below the national homeownership rate at 50% and 59% respectively.

Figure 16. Income and Housing Tenure Source: US Census 2000

For Rent signs dot the lawns at the start of the school year.

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Income and Housing


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Land Use & Development Built Form Figure Ground

The figure ground map shows only building footprints to illustrate the density of the urban fabric. Areas that are white indicate streets, parking lots, parks and highways. The figure-ground map for College Hill shows a dense pattern of small residential buildings that form a well-defined street wall on the west side of College Hill. Downtown appears more fragmented; the large buildings have greater gaps between them, indicating surface parking lots and a lack of building frontage. Interstate-75, which skirts the western edge of the study area, shows up clearly as a wide swath of white that divides College Hill from its neighbors to the west.

Top: dense residential fabric off of College Street; Bottom: building fronted by surface lot on Poplar Street.

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Figure 17. Figure Ground Map

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Frontage

Most of the corridor streets – Montpelier, Coleman, College, Forsyth, Washington, and Georgia – are lined by inactive and protective frontages as shown in the accompanying map. Inactive street frontages include blank facades, vacant land, vacant buildings, and surface parking lots. Protective street frontages include hills, berms, steps, walls and fences. Due to the large number of parking lots in the study area, 26% of the overall street length, equal to 3.25 miles, is lined with inactive frontages which impact the walkability of the Corridor by diminishing the pedestrian experience. The major roads linking College Street to downtown Macon – Forsyth, Washington, and Mulberry – are predominantly lined with inactive frontages. Poplar Street between the First Baptist Church of Christ and St. Joseph’s Church and City Hall is another important location that is marked by inactive frontage; it is a major view corridor and civic center covered with surface parking lots. The extensive surface parking around the vacant commercial center between Georgia and Hardeman Avenues behind the post office also presents large sections of inactive building frontages. Protective frontages make up another 21% of the study area’s street lengths, covering 2.57 miles. Most of College Street, Coleman Avenue, and the streets surrounding Tattnall Square consist of protective frontages. These are a distinctive feature of the Corridor, and while many protective frontages are attractive, some of the walls and fences detract from the pedestrian experience by presenting a blank or visually uninteresting barrier to the street.

Inactive frontage

Protective frontage

New Street

Magnolia Street

Georgia Avenue

College Street

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Figure 18. Frontages Map

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Landmarks and Views

Macon has a remarkable collection of historic structures, with 5,500 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Saved from civil war destruction as General Sherman’s Union army bypassed Macon on its march to the sea, many of the Corridor’s old buildings were also spared razing during the 20th Century due to a slowed economy and the perseverance of urban pioneers. Important landmarks include historically and architecturally significant houses such as the Hay House and Cannonball House, cultural venues such as the Douglass and Capitol Theaters, and numerous religious institutions in a range of architectural styles.

View of downtown Macon from Coleman Hill Park

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With so many historic and architecturally notable structures and sites around Macon, several view corridors have been highlighted that constitute important moments in the experience and identity of the study area.

• The view up Poplar Street is one of the most postcard-worthy scenes of Macon,

pulling together the civic and religious symbols of City Hall, the First Baptist Church of Christ and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. • The view from Cotton Avenue offers another civic scene of City Hall, the civic plaza, the City Auditorium and the spires of the churches. • The vantage point from Coleman Hill Park allows for views of downtown Macon and across the Ocmulgee River.

Figure 19. Major View Corridors Map

• Magnolia Street provides the best glimpses into Washington Park. • The bridge on College Street at Appleton Lane provides a scenic view of the rail corridor and marks where College Street gently curves towards Tattnall Square. • College Street at Oglethorpe Street offers the first view of Tattnall Square with Mercer University in the background as one approaches from downtown.

First Baptist Church of Christ

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Land Use and Zoning

Land uses were surveyed on a parcel-by-parcel basis within the study area boundary, not including the Mercer University parcel south of Tattnall Square. Land uses in the study area are fairly segregated between residential, commercial, and institutional uses along the lines delineated in the zoning map. Most of the study area falls under historic zoning districts set up to preserve and protect areas and structures designated as having historic or architectural significance. These include the Historic Residential (HR) 2 and 3, Historic Commercial, and Historic Planned Development districts.

Figure 20. Land Use Map

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The majority of the study area west of New Street is zoned HR-3, and the land use pattern closely follows the zoning. This half of the study area is mainly residential with a few commercial and institutional uses, and most of the residential neighborhoods in the study area are found here. The small pockets of non-residential uses within the HR-3 zone are contained within the Historic Planned Development (HPD) district.

Figure 21. Zoning Map

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Overall, residential uses make up 27% of the total parcel area and are concentrated along College, Madison, Orange, and Magnolia Streets, and around Mercer’s Law School and Mount de Sales Academy. Over half of the residential parcel area is composed of single-family homes (56%). Multifamily housing takes up 44% of the residential parcel area; a significant portion of this percentage is the group of senior and assisted living units on Forsyth Street at College Street.

Figure 22. Residential Uses

College Hill Corridor’s varied housing stock, left to right: historic home on Georgia Avenue; home on Madison Street; multifamily housing on Orange Street; St. Paul Apartments.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Top to bottom: Medical Center of Central Georgia; Joshua Cup; Mount de Sales Academy


Even without including the Mercer University parcel, institutional land uses, such as the Medical Center, government buildings, and schools, are one of the dominant uses in the study area, occupying 22% of the parcel area. Institutions are scattered throughout the study area in both commercial and residential zones. A large grouping of institutions is located between College, Forsyth, and Columbus, in the form of the Medical Center, Mount De Sales School, and the Alexander II Magnet School. Parking takes up 13% of the total parcel area. This figure accounts for only the parcels where parking is the predominant use. The actual land area occupied by parking lots and structures is higher at 16%. Large surface lots and parking structures are mainly located east of Spring Street approaching downtown and around the Medical Center. The concentration of parking around downtown effectively forms a barrier between the residential neighborhoods and the commercial center from a non-automobile perspective.

Figure 23. Land Use Summary Diagram

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Almost no residential uses were recorded east of New Street, which is zoned Central Business District (CBD-1 and CBD-2). This area is overwhelmingly commercial and institutional, with only a few mixed use buildings hosting residential units above ground floor commercial. Small pockets of lower intensity commercial zones, C-1 and C-2, are found at College and Riverside and at Georgia and Hardeman where the commercial land use map shows some lower-intensity retail and auto-oriented commercial nodes. The Historic Commercial (HC) zone along Forsyth appears on the land use map as a patchwork of commercial uses interspersed among institutional uses and parking. Commercial uses are the third most common use in the study area, occupying 20% of the total parcel area.


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Vacancy

Vacant buildings account for 5% of the parcel area and vacant land 3%. The vacancy maps show vacant land and vacant buildings, as well as a breakdown of the use types of vacant buildings. Vacant buildings are concentrated in the downtown portion of the study area, particularly in the triangle formed by Cotton Avenue, 2nd Street, and Plum Street, and along Forsyth Street leading downtown. Most of the vacant buildings are commercial, which accounts for 82% of the vacant building parcel area. Residential vacancy makes up 17% of the vacant building parcel area, and is mainly located along Madison Street. Vacant land is found mainly in the northern portion of College Hill, between Mulberry Street and Riverside Drive, and along Madison Street.

Residential vacancy on Madison Street.

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Commercial vacancy downtown and on the Corridor.


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Figure 24. Vacant Land and Buildings Map

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Building Condition

Overall, buildings in the study area are in very good condition. Most rank as A or B-quality buildings, and need little to no improvement. The highest ranked buildings include institutional buildings and the residences that line College Street. Georgia, Mulberry, Orange, High, and Magnolia Streets also boast mostly A and B-grade buildings. Of the buildings surveyed, 35% were ranked A and another 35% ranked B. Buildings in average condition (C) make up 24% of the buildings surveyed. Although they are scattered throughout the study area, concentrations of C-quality buildings exist mainly one block west of College Street along Madison Street, at College Street and Riverside Drive, in the downtown blocks between Poplar Street and the Medical Center, along Walnut Street, and along the rail tracks between College Street and Oglethorpe Street. Buildings ranking D and F make up only 6% of the total buildings surveyed. Very few of these buildings are found on the Corridor’s main streets – College, Georgia, Washington and Forsyth – however two prominent ones are the Phillips 66 gas station at Forsyth Street and the vacant house on upper College Street north of Georgia Avenue. Both require extensive work and are a jarring contrast to the otherwise exceptionally well-groomed houses on the Corridor. Figure 25. Building Condition Grading System

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Figure 26. Building condition map

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Recent Investment

Since 2000, several investments in and around the study area have built up momentum for revitalization. Mercer Village has expanded retail opportunities near the University’s main campus, attracting student-friendly businesses. The old Oglethorpe Homes have been reborn as the Hope IV development Tattnall Place. A new pedestrian bridge at College Place and Hazel Street provides an improved link between Tattnall Square and Beall’s Hill. The Medical Center and Ronald McDonald House are both expanding, and several new mixed housing and retail projects are coming on line downtown. Streetscape improvements include Coleman Avenue in between of Mercer and Tattnall Square, the Poplar Street median, and the intersection at City Hall. Beyond major investments, collected data shows that 30% of all of the properties in the study area have been sold since 2000. Of these sales, 23% were for $100 or less. A comparison of prices of the remaining sales since 2000 show that the study area commands higher median sales prices than the City and County and is showing an upward trend. This also is in contrast to sales prices for the City and County which are both trending slightly downward.2 The median sale price for the study area between 2000 and 2006 was $136,500 compared to $91,800 for the County and $61,300 for Macon.

2 Outliers such as sales under $100 and the highest recorded sale price are not included in the median sale price calculation.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 27. Median sale price (2000-2006)

Left to right: Coleman Avenue streetscape near Mercer; Ronald McDonald House expansion.


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Clockwise from top left: New pedestrian bridge at College Place and Hazel Street; Tattnall Place; Poplar Street median; Mercer Village retail.

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Institutional Presence

Institutions are one of the major land uses in the study area. Mercer University and the Medical Center of Central Georgia are the two largest institutions; however, the study area is brimming with schools and religious institutions, as well as major government bodies. Although Macon schools generally rank low compared with neighboring school districts, the study area is in the catchment area of several good public schools: Alexander II Magnet School for elementary education, Miller Magnet Middle School, and Central High School. Alexander II Magnet School, located on the College Street corridor across from Tattnall Square, was named a Georgia Public School of Excellence in 1984, 1993, and 2001, and a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2006. In the 2007-2008 school year, Alexander II enrolled 549 students in grades K through 5. Miller Magnet School and Central High School just outside the study area on the other side of I-75 had a combined student body of 1,904 in 2007-2008. Miller Magnet School enrolled 747 students in grades 6 through 8, and Central High School had 1,157 students in grades 9 through 12. The study area also contains three private schools offering primary and secondary education: Mount De Sales Academy, St. Joseph’s Catholic School, and Progressive Christian Academy. In 2007-2008, Mount De Sales enrolled 664 students in grades 6 though 12, St. Joseph’s Catholic School enrolled 342 students in grades K through 6, and Progressive Christian Academy enrolled 472 students in grades pre-K through 8. All of the public and private schools within the study area served a total of 2,027 students in 20072008. Higher education in the study area consists of Mercer University’s main campus and law school. In 2008, Mercer University had over 3,200 students enrolled in Macon at its traditional campus and the Walter F. George School of Law. Three-quarters of these students are between the ages of 18 and 24. Outside of the study area, Wesleyan College enrolled 744 students in 2008, and Macon State College’s Macon and Warner Robins campuses enrolled 6,431 students in 2008.

Clockwise from Top: Alexander II, St. Joseph’s Catholic School; Progressive Christian Academy; Mount de Sales Academy.

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Figure 28. Institutions Map

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Left to right: Temple Beth Israel; Tattnall Square Presbyterian Church; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Macon is said to have more churches per capita than any other city in Georgia, even more, some claim, than any other city in the country. The City has over 250 congregations, and the study area alone contains over 20 houses of worship. Many of these are historically and architecturally significant. The First Baptist Church of Christ and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, impressive neo-Gothic structures dating from the 1890s, form the terminus of the view corridor from Poplar Street. The Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church, originally built in 1869, is the oldest black Presbyterian church in Georgia. The Steward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church near the Medical Center was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech in Macon in 1957. Some of the other major houses of worship within the study area include: Centenary United Methodist Church, Christ Church, Congregation Sha’arey Israel, First Church of Christ, First Presbyterian Church, the Islamic Centre of Macon, Mulberry Street United Methodist, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Tattnall Square Presbyterian Church, and Temple Beth Israel. Steward Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church

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Economic Development Retail Characteristics

Commercial uses in the study area are limited. Although they comprise 20% of the total parcel area, half consists of office use. Commercial services make up only 27% of the total commercial land use by parcel area. Vacancy accounts for 16% of the total commercial parcel area and auto-oriented uses another 5%. A more detailed breakdown of the commercial services shows that restaurant and retail uses in the study area only make up 4% and 8% of the parcel area, respectively. The remaining non-office and non-auto commercial uses include banks, hotels, services such as hair salons, and entertainment, which account for 15% of the total commercial parcel area. Most of the non-office commercial uses are found downtown along 2nd Street, with very little on the Corridor’s streets toward the west. A smaller group of non-office commercial uses can be found at Georgia and Hardeman around the vacant shopping center and also along Cotton Avenue where a few restaurants are interspersed with vacant storefronts. Because of the lack of local retail, Macon and the College Hill Corridor in particular suffer from commercial leakage to suburban shopping districts.

Figure 29. Commercial Use by Type

Figure 30. Commercial Leakage Diagram

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Figure 31. Commercial Uses Map

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


Mercer University is the second largest employer in College Hill with approximately 3,000 employees. The distribution of employees is similar to that of the Medical Center: only 5% live in the 31201 study area zip code, while 23% live in 31204 and 31210. More Mercer employees live in Atlanta (8%) than in the study area. The University has worked to encourage local investment by providing housing incentive grants for employees to live in neighborhoods around the University which has helped to transform areas like Huegenin Heights. Thus far, approximately 40 grants have been disbursed.

Macon Study Area

Figure 32. Distribution of Medical Center Employees Figure 33. Distribution of Mercer Employees

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With over 20,000 employees, the largest employer in the region is the Robins Air Force Base about 18 miles south of Macon. Within Macon, institutions are the biggest employers. The Medical Center of Central Georgia is the largest employer in the study area with 4,600 people employed on the main campus and 5,500 employees total. However, only 2% of the Medical Center employees live within the 31201 zip code that covers College Hill and downtown Macon. The largest concentration of employees, approximately 25%, lives northwest of the Medical Center’s main campus along I-75 in zip codes 31204 and 31210.

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Distribution of employees by zip code

2% of Medical Center Employees live within the Zip Code that encompasses the College Hill Corridor.

Mercer University

Jobs/Employment

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The pattern of city government employees also tells the same story. Out of 1,298 employees, only 4% live in the study area zip code 31201. Zip code 31204 is home the greatest number of city employees (16%); the next highest is 31206 (approximately 13%) and 31210 (11%). Overall, small companies dominate the employment landscape in the College Hill area. Almost half of the employers in the study area are small companies of three or fewer employees, and another 29% are employers with seven or fewer employees. Only 22% of the companies in the area have 15 or more employees. There is great opportunity to encourage more employees of local businesses and institutions to live nearby. Even just a small increase in the percentage of workers living within the area would add substantial demand to the local housing market and affirm College Hill as a vibrant community. It would also help to reduce the cost of attracting talent to major institutions by virtue of the fact that the surrounding community would be a major amenity for prospective employees.

Distribution of employees by zip code

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Figure 34. Distribution of City Government Employees

Macon Study Area

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Figure 35. Major Employers Map

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Environmental Conditions and Open Space Topography and Drainage

Macon is one of the Piedmont-Coastal Plain Fall Line cities. College Hill sits on the highest point, a ridge overlooking downtown Macon. The grade change is most dramatic at Washington Park between Washington Avenue and Magnolia Street. The dramatic changes in topography have a great influence on the built environment as well. Many street frontages are present retaining walls, hills, berms, and stairs to the sidewalk and street. High retaining walls are deployed throughout the study area, most notably the one along the post office parking lot at College and Magnolia Streets. Stormwater management and erosion are important issues in Macon. Steep slopes and large areas of impervious surfaces, such as parking lots and wide streets, contribute to stormwater runoff and pollution. Moderate to major flooding has struck Macon several times, the most damaging being the Great Flood of 1994 when the Ocmulgee River rose to its highest recorded level and the City’s water supply was disrupted. The Macon Water Authority is currently required to conduct stream-water monitoring and is in the process of putting together a watershed protection plan.

Walnut Street berm.

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Slope

Figure 36. Topography and Slope Analysis Map

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Trees

The tree canopy covers only 7% of the land in the study area, compared with 27% in Atlanta which equals the national average. The recommended average tree cover for metropolitan areas is 30%. Most of the existing trees in the study area are located in the parks, along the railroad, and in residential yards. Very few trees remain on the street to provide shade and visual continuity for the Corridor. College Street, once lined with shade trees, is now only sparsely covered. The downtown portion of the study area and the Medical Center campus have even less tree cover. Some blocks have no trees at all. One of the biggest issues with regard to street trees is the frequent conflicts with Georgia Power which often prunes or removes trees that grow into power lines. Macon’s tree ordinance only covers trees on city property and public rights of way and has little mechanism for maintenance and enforcement.

Forsyth Street; Pine Street.

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Figure 37. Tree Cover Map

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Parks and Play Space

Macon’s founders imagined the city as “The City of Parks.” This vision still manifests in the wide landscaped boulevards downtown, Tattnall Square, Washington and Coleman Hill Parks, and the many small green spaces found throughout the study area. Parks make up 6% of the study area land, which amounts to 7.3 acres of park per 1000 residents. Atlanta, by comparison, has 7.7 acres of park per 1,000 residents. However, most of the acreage in the study area is devoted to passive open space. Only approximately 9 of the 31 acres of park space are programmed for recreation, which is 2.2 acres per 1,000 residents. Recreational space is confined to the playground, tennis courts, and open field used for soccer in Tattnall Square and the basketball courts in Daisy Park. The playground at Tattnall Square is the only public playground within College Hill. Aside from Tattnall Square, Washington Park, Coleman Hill Park, and Daisy Park, the green spaces in College Hill mostly comprise small landscaped triangles often not suitable for recreational use. Washington Park is oft cited as one of residents’ favorite places in the City. It is wellused for both passive enjoyment and programmed activities. The park slopes down dramatically from College Street, is lushly planted and shady, and features a meandering stream. Coleman Hill Park offers views across the Ocmulgee River and downtown. There are benches, but few paths through the park. The park is mainly suitable for passive uses due to its slope. Daisy Park is the only park aside from Tattnall Square in the study area that has actives uses in the form of basketball courts within a landscaped triangle. The deteriorated quality of the courts and landscaping, however, call for significant improvement.

Top to bottom: Coleman Hill Park; Tyler’s Place Dog Park; Capricorn Park, Water Tower Park, and Washington Park.

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Figure 38. Parks map

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The study area’s biggest recreational asset, Tattnall Square, is not performing to its full potential. The different influences on the four sides of the park — Mercer University to the south, residential to the west, offices to the north, and the Corridor to the east — pull the park in different directions. The park is divided roughly down the middle into recreational uses on the College Street side and passive uses on the Adams Street side with little connection between them. Sidewalks are found on only two sides of the park, along Adams Street and Coleman Avenue, and paths in the park end abruptly or are non-existent, leading to desire paths worn into the grass. Stormwater drainage is poorly designed, with channels leading straight into the street. The underused parking lots on the northern edge of the square eat up space that could be better programmed, while cars sometimes drive right into the park despite signs indicating they are not allowed. The College Street frontage is not only devoid of a sidewalk but also has no clear access point; an old staircase leads to the locked gates of the tennis courts. The conditions along College Street constitute a missed opportunity to provide a front door to Mercer University and a connection to the Alexander II School.

Although beloved in many ways, Tattnall Square also faces many challenges. Clockwise from top: Parking regularly occurs in the park, former paths have been fenced, stormwater drainage is poorly designed, the pathways do not serve users and the parking lots are underutilized. Opposite page: the pastoral side of the park is a contrast to the more active edge which lacks sidewalks.

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“How can I get where I need to go as fast as I possibly can?�

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


Transportation, in its simplest definition, is the means by which people connect. How do people get from one place to another? Where are people going? Why do people make the transportation choices that they do? The two most important characteristics of a transportation system are its efficiency and safety for all users.

Transportation in the College Hill Corridor has been designed with the goal of accommodating the automobile. This is evident by both the design of the existing transportation facilities and the observed relationships between automobiles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. It is easy and efficient to drive into and out of the area, but doing so has limited the pedestrian and bicycling options along the Corridor.

“Asphalt is not historic.� existing conditions

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Existing Vehicular Conditions

The streets in the College Hill Corridor form what are essentially two separate grid systems. One grid runs between Interstate-75 and Spring Street and the other shifts clockwise at Spring Street into downtown. The dueling grids force streets to curve and bend in numerous locations and intersect at angles that are far from ideal. The streets are a mix of minor arterial and local roadways. Parking is provided on most of the neighborhood roads. I-75 and I-16 connect the study area and the City of Macon to the Interstate Highway system. Interchanges are located on I-75 at Forsyth and Hardeman to the west and on I-16 at Spring Street and at 2nd Street.

Existing Roadway Description

Few streets in the College Hill Corridor run “true” north-south and east-west. For the purpose of this report, we considered College Street, Spring Street, and streets that run parallel to them as north-south streets and Washington Street, Oglethorpe Street, and streets that run parallel to them as east-west streets.

College Street is a north-south arterial roadway that runs through the study area. It

extends south from its terminus at Riverside Drive (US 23/GA 87) paralleling I-75 to the west into the Mercer University Campus. For most of its length, it has a width of 40feet which is composed of two travel lanes and on-street parking with carriage walks. Though College Street used to run through to Little Richard Penniman Boulevard, it was closed years ago at the entrance to Mercer University. It only serves local campus traffic between College Street and Little Richard Penniman Boulevard. Non-campus traffic continues to the south by utilizing Coleman Avenue and Montpelier Avenue.

College Street

Montpelier Avenue is an east-west-street that extends from Columbus Road eastward through residential neighborhoods to I-75. It crosses over I-75 into the study area on a four lane bridge and becomes a two-lane road with on-street parking. It separates the main Mercer University campus from the area known as Mercer Village. It turns into Coleman Avenue at the S-curve, west of Adams Street.

Coleman Avenue is an east-west street that serves as an easterly extension of Napier Avenue across I-75 into the study area. It intersects with Montpelier Avenue and continues east to College Street and then becomes Ash Street. It has two travel lanes and on-street parking except in the section between Linden Avenue and Adams Street. It separates the main Mercer University campus from the residential areas and Tattnall Square Park to the north. Adams Street is a north-south residential street that serves as the western boundary to Tattnall Square. It is a two lane roadway with parking on both sides of the street.

Oglethorpe Street is an east-west roadway that crosses I-75 to the west and heads

into the Beall’s Hill neighborhood to the east. It generally provides one-lane of traffic in each direction with on-street parking permitted on both sides of the roadway.

Forsyth Street / Walton Way is one of the main connections between Interstate 75 and downtown Macon. It is a three-lane eastbound only roadway from I-75 to College Street and then runs at diagonal to the grid system from College Street to its terminus at

Montpelier Avenue

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Coleman Avenue


Mulberry Street. Because it runs at diagonal to the grid system, it creates a lot of atypical intersections. Forsyth Street is two lanes in each direction between College Street and Spring Street/Pine Street. From there, Forsyth is two lanes in the eastbound direction and one lane in the westbound direction with one lane of parking to New Street/Plum Street and then transitions again to one lane in each direction with parking on both sides of the street to Poplar Street.

Hardeman Avenue and transitions to allow bi-directional travel through the rest of the Corridor. It provides one lane of travel and one lane of parking in each direction between College Street and Spring Street. East of Spring Street, the roadway becomes Mulberry Street the eastbound and westbound directions are separated by a landscaped median. It provides two lanes of travel and one lane of diagonal parking in each direction.

Hardeman Avenue/Washington Avenue/Poplar Street are three streets that together form a major east-west arterial road through downtown Macon. They connect to I-75 to the west and cross the railroad tracks to the east. Hardeman Avenue starts at its interchange with I-75 and extends east to College Street. From I-75 to Monroe Street, it has two or three westbound only lanes. Between Monroe and College Streets, it has two travel lanes in each direction. The Washington Avenue portion of the road carries east from the Hardeman/College intersection through the older residential/commercial area into downtown at High Place. There generally is one travel lane in each direction with on-street parking permitted at some locations. At High Place, Washington Avenue turns into Poplar Street which is one of the primary downtown arterials. Between High Place and 1st Street it provides a five-lane cross section, and at 1st Street it widens to provide one lane of travel and two lanes of on-street parking (one diagonal and one parallel) in each direction with a large landscaped median separating the eastbound and westbound directions.

Riverside Drive is a five-lane east-west arterial roadway with a center-left turn lane. It runs parallel to the Ocmulgee River. It has a suburban feel with a center left-turn lane and numerous access drives located along it.

Georgia Avenue/Mulberry Street is an east-west street that runs from Hardeman

Avenue through downtown Macon. It runs westbound only between College Street and

Forsyth Street between College and Orange Streets

Orange Street is one of the most unique roadways in the College Hill Corridor. It

is a north-south residential roadway that runs parallel to College Street. The unique feature of Orange Street is that it is a brick roadway between Washington Avenue and Forsyth Street. Many of the other streets in the area are also brick, but were paved over with asphalt. Orange Street has retained its brick character, and this character reinforces the historical character of the neighborhood.

Spring Street is a north-south roadway that is a two-lane, residential collector, south of Georgia Avenue, and a five-lane minor arterial, north of Georgia Avenue. The Spring Street Bridge over the Ocmulgee River is six lanes wide with sidewalks. It has a full interchange with Interstate-16. It also provides access to the parking lot that serves the Ocmulgee River Trail.

Washington Avenue at Orange Street

Poplar Street/Washington Avenue

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New Street is a north-south two-lane roadway with parking on both sides of the street. It runs through the entire corridor except for the section where it is cut off by the Medical Center campus.

First Street is a north-south minor arterial road within downtown that stretches from

Riverside Drive to Oglethorpe Street. It has one travel lane in each direction plus onstreet parking. Additional turn lanes are located at various cross streets.

Second Street is a north-south major arterial road on the eastern border of the study area that extends south from Grey Highway across I-16 (with an eastbound only exit ramp), across the Ocmulgee River, across Riverside Drive (grade separated) into downtown Macon. It has two travel lanes in each direction plus on-street parking. Additional turn lanes are located at various cross streets.

Neighborhood Gateways

Based on the layout of the existing roadway system, connections to the Interstate or State Highway System, the Ocmulgee River, and existing traffic patterns, there are a number of gateway streets. The entry points or gateways along the north and west sides of the College Hill Corridor are well defined due to the constraints imposed by I-75/I-16 and the Ocmulgee River. Access to and from the east is severely limited by the existing railroad tracks and rail yards to one crossing at Walnut Street. A gateway route to and from the south is not well defined due to a number of north-south residential streets, limited access through Mercer University, and the existing rail line.

Figure 39. Major Gateways to College Hill

Orange Street at High Street; First Street at Pine Street.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


Land Strategies Inc., part of the planning team, collected a significant amount of data in order to better understand the vehicular traffic situation in the College Hill Corridor. Data collection included traffic counts, accident data, and speed studies. Traffic Counts – Manual traffic counts were conducted at a number of the study intersection during the morning and evening peak hours. The results of the traffic counts are included in the Appendix. Crash Data – Crash data was obtained from the City of Macon between January 1, 2004 to September 30, 2008. The accompanying map shows the frequency of vehicular accidents at each location. Speed Data – Land Strategies Inc. / Sam Schwartz Engineering measured the speeds at a number of locations in the study area. Results are shown in the Appendix. The data suggests the traffic volumes in the area are not that high, that there is excess capacity at the intersections, and that traffic in the area travels at a higher speed than it is designed to. The high crash rates, particularly at the signalized intersections on College Street, are especially alarming. There are a number of safety concerns for all users of the neighborhood that must be addressed immediately. This will reduce the frequency of crashes and encourage more pedestrian and bicycling activity in the area.

College/Coleman/Ash Intersection

82 Intersection Issues A number of the intersections in the study area have safety concerns. This section briefly discusses each one.

College/Coleman/Ash Free-flow right-turn lanes are intended to allow right-turning vehicles to not stop signalized intersections. This is typically done at suburban intersections where capacity is an issue. While the southbound to westbound right-turn at the intersection of College Street with Coleman Avenue/Ash Street has the highest traffic volume, it does not need this treatment to work at a good level of service. This design has created a safety concern, both for vehicles and pedestrians. The main cause of this is the southbound to westbound free-flow right-turn lane on College Street. There is a cross walk located within the free flow right-turn lane, and this crosswalk connects Mercer with Tattnall Park. The free flow right-turn lane encourages vehicles to make the movement without slowing down which means drivers might be unable to see, or have time, to react to pedestrians in the crosswalk. There is also no crosswalk on College Street or on the northern portion of the free flow right-turn lane.

College and Forsyth Intersection

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Existing Data


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College/Oglethorpe

College Street is quite wide at its intersection with Oglethorpe Street, but it does not provide left-turn lanes in either direction. This is a safety concern, as vehicles that are traveling through the intersection may not expect to see vehicles stopped in front of them waiting to turn left.

College/Forsyth

College Street and Forsyth is a difficult intersection for both cars and pedestrians to navigate. The through lanes do not align directly with their corresponding receiving lanes, which creates a channelization issue that forces vehicles to travel at an angle as they go through an intersection. Additionally, the crosswalks at the intersection are much longer than the width of the roadway, due to the angle they are on and the wide corner radii.

College/Washington

This is one of the highest accident locations in the study area. The main issue is the lack of a northbound left-turn lane on College Street. There is a high volume of vehicles turning left from College Street to Hardeman to access I-75, but there is no separate left-turn lane. As discussed earlier, this can lead to rear-end accidents. It is difficult for pedestrians to cross this intersection, due to the length of the crosswalks and the operations of the pedestrian signals. Even though there are push button pedestrian signals located on all four corners, pushing the buttons did not bring up the WALK sign. Without this direction, it is difficult for pedestrians to know when it is safe to cross the intersection.

College Street and Washington Avenue

College/Georgia

The intersection of College Street and Georgia Avenue presents a challenge to both vehicles and pedestrians. Georgia Avenue is one-way, west of College Street, which promotes high speeds of both through vehicles and vehicles turning from College Street. Vehicles turning right in both directions on College Street were observed accelerating through the turns. Similar to other intersections, the through lanes on College Street do not line up properly. This is one of the most difficult intersections in the study area for pedestrians to cross. The crosswalks are much longer than they need to be, there is no crosswalk on the east leg of Georgia, and the sidewalks to not extend to the roadway at the southwest corner of the intersection.

Forsyth/Spring/Pine

The intersection of Forsyth Street/Spring Street/Pine Street is a five-lane signalized intersection. It is a very large intersection, and the angles at which the streets intersect are difficult for drivers to navigate. The intersection is onerous for both vehicles and pedestrians to navigate. There is a significant amount of pedestrians crossing at this location, mainly hospital employees coming from the parking lot or the commercial establishments in the area. All of the roadways provide a wider cross-section than is necessary to accommodate the existing traffic volumes.

Forsyth Street and New Street;

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

College Street and Georgia Avenue


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Figure 40. Accident History (2004-2008)

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Forsyth/New/Plum

As discussed earlier, Forsyth Street creates a number of intersections with multiple legs and far from ideal intersecting angles. The primary issue with this intersection is that the southern leg of New Street is offset from the rest of the intersection which creates a much wider intersection than is necessary. The signage at the intersection is extremely confusing, especially to drivers that are not familiar with the area.

Georgia/Spring

The design of the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Spring Street was intended to allow traffic to flow as freely as possible between the two roadways, but it has created safety problems for both vehicles and pedestrians. There are both free-flow movements and turns due to a stop sign which can be confusing for all drivers. The amount of space dedicated to creating the free flow movements has made it almost impossible for pedestrians to cross the north leg of the intersection and encourages high speeds on Georgia Avenue.

Existing Parking Conditions

One thing the College Hill Corridor has in abundance is parking, both on-street spaces and in off-street parking lots. With the help of the Commission, the team collected data with respect to the supply and demand of the off-street parking lots in the study area. There are numerous parking lots with capacity that exceeds demand. Parking lots that are sitting empty or barely used are essentially unnecessary asphalt that can be used for higher and better land uses. There are some areas in the neighborhood where there is a high demand for on-street parking, particularly on streets where the houses do not have personal driveways and where houses rent out portions to students, and there are also some areas where the on-street parking is used sparingly. While it is necessary to provide space for residents and visitors to park, some of this space could also be put to better use, particularly with regards to improving pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Riverside Drive

Riverside Drive is the roadway that stands as the oddball roadway in the corridor. It is currently a five-lane roadway that carries a significant amount of traffic at speeds in excess of 45 miles per hour. The majority of the land uses along Riverside Drive are automobile uses with parking in front of the stores and drive-thru lanes. It has the feel of a typical suburban arterial roadway, as opposed to the typical urban character of the rest of the corridor. The street is not friendly for pedestrians or bicyclists due to the numerous access drives, the large quantity of off-street parking lots, high vehicular speeds, and lack of pedestrian crossings.

College Street and Riverside Drive

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Underutilized lots along Georgia Avenue and downtown near the Medical Center


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Figure 41. Surface Parking Lot Capacity and Demand

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Existing Pedestrian Conditions

The College Hill Corridor has many characteristics of a walkable community. The existing residential lot layout and the presence of Mercer create a dense population base, a significant portion of which is under the age of 30. There are a number of destinations in the area, both institutional and commercial, that residents and students would have a reason to walk to. Along the way there is amazing architecture and landscaping that can be enjoyed on the pedestrian scale from the sidewalks. Unfortunately, there are also many barriers that exist which limit both the overall walkability of the neighborhood and the number of pedestrians present in the area. Safety is the biggest concern. Cars travel at high speeds on the area’s roadways, and in many locations there is no protection for pedestrians between the sidewalk and the cars. One of the most important aspects of pedestrian safety is having cars be aware of pedestrians and looking out for them. Without pedestrians visible on an everyday basis, drivers won’t be expecting their presence and will only worry about conflicts with other vehicles. This all leads to a situation where pedestrians are nervous about their safety which discourages them from walking. There are also many issues with the operations and efficiency of walking in the neighborhood. Some intersections in the corridor require pedestrians to walk over 90 feet to cross just one leg of the intersection. That means it takes the average pedestrian over 25 seconds to cross the street. Deteriorated or missing sidewalks, lack of buffer from the street, utilities and plantings in the sidewalk, minimal or no street lighting, unsafe crossing, and a lack of pedestrian amenities are some of the operational issues that currently exist in the Corridor and must be addressed in order to generate pedestrian activity and make the College Hill Corridor a true walkable community.

Figure 42. Pedestrian Environment Grading System

Pedestrian Environment Factor

Walking is typically a qualitative experience, but in order to analyze the existing conditions, these aspects must be quantified. We have developed a method referred to as the Pedestrian Environment Factor that judges each block on a number of the characteristics that are involved in the pedestrian experience. For the College Hill Corridor, seven distinct categories were examined: landscaping/shading, buffer between sidewalk and traffic volumes, lighting, sidewalk conditions, objects blocking sidewalk, availability/safety of mid block crossing, and the availability of sidewalk amenities. Each category was graded on the scale of Excellent > Very Good > Good > Fair > Bad > Very Bad > Poor ,and then each category was weighted appropriately to develop a 10 point scale. The methodology is shown in the Appendix. As can be seen from the map, there are a number of areas that are excellent to walk in, and there are some that are not pedestrian friendly at all. These are discussed in more detail below:

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Figure 43. Pedestrian Environment Factor Map

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College Street (Appleton) Bridge The bridge on College Street over the rail

tracks is very unsafe for pedestrians. The sidewalks do not provide much width, and there is no protection for pedestrians between the sidewalks and vehicles. If you are walking northbound on the west side of the road, you cannot see southbound vehicles approaching. These conditions severely limit the amount of pedestrian activity in the area. College Street is one of the most important roadways in the neighborhood, and this location severely limits walkability in the Corridor.

Mercer Village The area on Montpelier Street, between Interstate-75 and Coleman

Avenue, has high traffic speeds and a lack of pedestrian crossings between Mercer and the retail/parking on the north side of the roadway. There is no sidewalk on the traffic island that separates Linden and Coleman Avenue, making it unusable for pedestrians.

Coleman Avenue, between Adams Street and College Street The recent streetscape that was constructed along this block is excellent. The size of the landscaped buffer between the sidewalks and the travel lanes is a comfortable width, traffic speeds have been calmed, and there is a very well designed mid-block pedestrian crossing.

Tattnall Square The most glaring issue with navigating Tattnall Square is the lack of sidewalks on the north and east sides of the park, forcing pedestrians to cross the street in order to walk safely in these areas. The lack of sidewalks discourages people from walking to Tattnall Square.

Bridge on College Street at Appleton Lane

Hospital The crosswalks in the area of the hospital are quite large and force pedestrians to spend too much time in the intersection with moving vehicles.

Forsyth Street There is a lack of pedestrians on Forsyth Street and outside of the

Medical Center for a number of reasons. The numerous parking lots, lack of shade, and narrow sidewalks contribute to this issue. Even though this is one of the most direct connections between College Street and Downtown, there are only a few pedestrians visible on the street at any time during the day.

Georgia Street The area on Georgia Street between College Street and Spring Street is not a safe area for pedestrians. High travel speeds, narrow sidewalks, and minimal protection between the travel lanes and the sidewalks comprise the majority of the problem. The Law School is located in this stretch, and it generates a significant amount of pedestrian activity. It is almost impossible to cross the north side of the intersection of Georgia Street and Spring Street. Post Office A crosswalk is provided on College Street at the post office, and it is signed

to alert vehicles to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, but drivers do not always abide by this direction. The team crossed at this location numerous times - drivers honked, increased speed to pass through the area before we crossed, and even drove into the opposite lane to drive around us. It is evident that vehicles consider pedestrians more of a nuisance at this intersection instead of part of the transportation system.

Forsyth Street

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Montpelier Avenue at Mercer Village


There is currently not a lot of bicycling activity in the College Hill Corridor. An occasional rider may be spotted on College Street, and there is some ridership amongst Mercer students on campus, but for the most part, the area is devoid of bicyclists. If cars are not expecting to see bicyclists on the roadway, it is unlikely that they will share the roadway with them, more often than not, treating them as a nuisance as opposed to an equal. The climate of Macon (with the exception of the hottest weeks in the summer) lends itself to bicycling. Obviously there will be days that it will rain or be too hot to bike, but for most of the year the current climate is not a barrier towards people choosing to ride their bikes. College Hill also has an excellent pool of potential riders due to the number of students at Mercer and young professionals that live in the area who have a reason to bike to destinations in the neighborhood. One of the main hurdles is the lack of bicycling infrastructure in the area. With the exception of a few bicycle racks on Mercer’s campus, there are none in the College Hill Corridor nor any bike lanes. Without infrastructure that dedicates space to bicyclists and makes drivers aware of their presence, it is unlikely that a bicycling community will ever grow in the area. Bicyclists, especially ones that have little to no experience, need to feel safe in order to ride their bikes on-street with cars. Riders feel safe when there are other bicyclists on the roadway and there is infrastructure out there, because this makes drivers aware of their presence, slowing drivers down.

“There isn’t one bike lane in Macon.”

Biking on College Street sidewalk Limited space for walking and bicycling on Georgia and Washington

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Existing Bicycling Conditions


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Existing Transit Conditions

The Macon Transit Authority (MTA) operates the public bus system in the City. The system consists of a total of nine bus routes, with seven of the routes serving at least a portion of the study area. Direct service between Mercer and downtown Macon is provided by Route 2 (Bellevue/Log Cabin) and Route 3 (West Macon/Thomaston Road). The bus ride takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Yearly ridership on the entire MTA system is about 900,000 riders per year. In addition to the public bus system, NewTown Macon runs a trolley service in the neighborhood for Mercer students. Two shuttles, Sweet Melissa and Miss Molly, are offered exclusively to Mercer students Wednesday through Saturdays, between 6:30 pm and 2:30 am. Ridership increases as it gets later in the evening because the service is typically used by students going downtown to eat and drink. A third route, MITSI, primarily catered to tourists and downtown employees, but is no longer in service due to low ridership. Even though transit is available in the College Hill Corridor, it is not a very popular transportation option, especially with students. They feel comfortable riding the trolley to get to the bars downtown, but avoid MTA buses. The unfortunate perception of MTA, as with many public U.S. transit services in communities this size, is that it is poorly run, unsafe, and an inefficient method of travel.

Top to bottom: Benches at Pine and New Streets; bus stop at College and Oglethorpe Streets; and MTA bus along College.

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Figure 44. Bus Route Map

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Quality of Life

Overall, the College Hill Corridor exhibits high levels of maintenance, with little trash, vandalism, or graffiti observed. The Keep Macon Beautiful Commission oversees volunteer efforts to combat litter and encourage energy conservation and recycling. Their “Adopt-a-Spot” signs can be seen all over the study area. Mercer University students also participate in community clean-ups in service learning projects and have focused on nearby communities such as Pleasant Hill and Beall’s Hill. Very little evidence of litter was observed in the consulting team’s survey of the study area. The one noticeable exception was Tattnall Square where temporaryfeeling plastic trash cans were spray painted, and trash was strewn outside the cans. Public feedback encouraged the introduction of more trash receptacles, especially in retail areas.

Top to bottom: signs on Georgia Avenue; trash and graffiti in Tattnall Square Park; Macon Police.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Crime is most often cited as the reason people are hesitant to live in the study area or visit downtown. While some may indicate that the crime is real, data indicates that the perception of crime is the determining factor. In 2007, the Macon Police Department Precinct 2 (MPDP2) which covers the majority of the study area including downtown contained only 20% of the City’s total crime, far less than the three other precincts. Almost half of this crime was related to theft alone, and only 8% of the precinct’s total crime was against persons. Further, between 2006 and 2007 downtown experienced a 9% drop in crime. These relatively low numbers are due, in part, to the fact that the study area is policed by three separate forces – the Macon Police Department, Mercer Police Department, and the hospital police as well private security from major institutions like Mt. De Sales. But despite the statistics and police presence – both public and private – the perception of crime remains to those less familiar with the area. Three factors contribute to this perception: A lack of critical mass of people on the street which makes the area feel deserted and less safe; visible vagrancy and begging, or what some refer to as “quality of life crime;” and poor lighting throughout the Corridor which exacerbates any perceptions at night.


The College Hill Corridor today is mainly a residential and institutional neighborhood. Its strong residential component is marked on the one hand by well-kept homes and neighborhood amenities such as schools and parks where longtime residents and civic activists have preserved its remarkable historic character. However, off of the main corridor, on streets such as Madison and around the rail by Columbus and Oglethorpe, the character of the neighborhood changes drastically. The housing stock changes to smaller units, building conditions deteriorate, and vacancy levels increase. These two sides of the residential neighborhood have the potential to meet in and benefit from the public and civic spaces of College Hill. The neighborhood’s two largest institutional anchors – Mercer University and the Medical Center of Central Georgia – infuse the otherwise mostly residential area with workers and students. These institutional users represent a potential market, as yet untapped. Few of the institutional employees live in the study area, and students from Mercer all too often leave the City after graduation. The result is transience. There are those that have adopted the Corridor as their home, but too many others come and go. College Hill does not yet offer the kind of experience to attract and retain a wide range of businesses and residents. There are very few commercial services and some visible gaps that leave too much of a negative impression on residents and visitors alike. But there is also a lot to work with and tremendous opportunity that is typically unavailable in other communities and cities.

Key Opportunities and Challenges

The feedback of key stakeholders – residents, students, business owners, and civic leaders – provided rich information about the study area as well as a framework for understanding what the community views as its priorities and how they contribute to a vision for the College Hill Corridor. Each point reflects both an opportunity and a challenge.

• Combating the [mis]perception of crime. The College Hill Corridor that links Mercer University to downtown

• •

• • • • • •

is perceived as a dangerous place. Currently there is no activity to populate the Corridor, leaving an empty stretch between the University and downtown. This discourages students and residents from using the Corridor. The main remedy to this perception of danger is to activate the Corridor. Making Macon feel safe. Public comments on safety cited the lack of lighting in Tattnall Square and the alleys as barriers to walkability. Good lighting will make these spaces more conducive to activity. Also, better maintenance of alleyways and empty lots will indicate that these areas are cared for and watched over. Revamping Tattnall Square Park. Although it is a historic park in a prime location, Tattnall Square Park is not living up to its potential. “It looks like the park that the town forgot.” A reinvigorated Tattnall Square could be an attraction for the broader community beyond the study area and serve to link the different neighborhoods that surround Mercer and the College Hill Corridor. Upgrading the public realm. Streetscape improvements such as better sidewalks, better lighting, and new landscaping can enhance the experience of the neighborhood as well as spur private investment. Capturing local spending power. To make downtown a vital place, businesses must be able to capture the local spending power that is currently leaking out to the surrounding suburbs. In addition to the needs of residents, attention should be focused on untapped markets such as downtown workers and students. Bringing back The City in the Park. Street trees and landscaping were an important part of the founding of the City of Macon. These elements also have a resonance today for their environmental benefits. Shade trees help to reduce the heat effect, absorb rain water and pollutants, and beautify the public realm. Getting people out of their cars. The current infrastructure is strictly auto-focused. Unsafe intersections, overly-wide roads and insufficient signalization allow for speeding, inefficient traffic movement and difficult pedestrian crossings in the study area. Roads should be redesigned to ensure all users can use them safely. Populating the Corridor. Encouraging activity and supporting businesses in the corridor requires a critical mass of people. Without residents, retail cannot succeed. Drawing people to live in College Hill and downtown can improve the prospects for attracting a wider range of retail options. Branding the College Hill Corridor. Macon boasts many natural, cultural, and institutional assets but “Macon is just outside the radar.” Putting the College Hill Corridor and Macon on the map will require marketing its special combination of historic grandeur and college town cool.

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"There's no place on the face of the earth like Macon."

III Vision

Nestled between Mercer University, downtown, and attractive neighborhoods, the College Hill Corridor is about connection and destination. It is an opportunity to elevate an awareness of the City’s assets and fasten the range of uses and activities together into one cohesive district. As a connection, the Corridor must balance the needs of cars with those of pedestrians and bicyclists and encourage people to explore. But to succeed, the Corridor must also be a destination with an infusion of new uses, activities, and open space that will make it one of the City’s premier gathering spots. A revitalized, reinvented, and successful College Hill Corridor is an opportunity to connect the dots, bridge local boundaries and, as one participant put it, to “unify the neighborhoods.” From the inclusive planning process and the community’s honest and optimistic public input has emerged a resident-driven vision for the future of the College Hill Corridor, a vision that builds upon the area’s rich history, respects and reinforces its eclectic present, and welcomes a robust future fueled by the local blend of employment, historic architecture, unique destinations, and involved residents. Location, landscape, and a pioneering spirit propelled the growth of the College Hill Corridor. It’s time to

“turn

the music a little bit louder.” The Corridor now embraces a revitalized future - hip, historic,

progressive, and unified by a commitment to vibrant public spaces, balanced streets, sustainable growth, and a viable local economy. The community’s diverse constituency of empowered citizens and

stakeholders will work together as part of a finely-tuned team to usher in a new era for the College Hill Corridor focused on addressing each of the five key themes that emerged during the planning process.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

• The Basics – Clean, Safe and Branded.

First (and second) impressions make a difference. Changing perceptions will change the area’s potential, but to do so, some basic urban chores require attention. These include ensuring that the Corridor is perceived as safe and welcoming, that residents and visitors alike know where they are and what is going on around them and, that the streets are clean and remain so. The result will be an improved image, increased visibility, greater recognition of the neighborhood and its assets by both visitors and community members, and enhanced quality of life for those who have already made the Corridor their home.


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• The Vibe – College Town Cool. College Town Cool has been used to describe an active and creative public space catering to both students and residents. To fulfill this ideal, events, the arts, and students need to have a stronger presence within the College Hill Corridor. Encouraging artists to produce and display locally, more activities to enable neighbors to meet one another and, students to walk, bike, and shop along the Corridor will be good for community spirit and good for the local economy.

• The Connection – Cooling the Streets. Healthy cities have healthy transportation choices. For far too

long streets have been designed solely for cars. To get more people to walk and bike, local streets must be re-balanced to welcome pedestrians and bicyclists with an eye toward reducing traffic congestion over time.

• The Environment – A City within a Park. The College Hill Corridor began with a fervent commitment to the environment. Topography, location, and climate make College Hill the perfect place to become a green model for the region… again. The Corridor will exemplify the City within a park ideal with a healthy urban forest, improved parks, and new landscaping dedicated to making the public realm more beautiful and environmentally sustainable.

• The Look – Macon’s Urban and Historic Center. The College Hill Corridor is a historic collection of residential neighborhoods. Embedded within this fabric are opportunities to infuse new uses, further establishing a successful and unique urban environment in and around downtown. Strategic investment will transform the Corridor into a lively sequence of events that activate the streets and promote private investment.

"Create a community that is diverse yet also seamless." "More college friendly living with a safe

and close proximity to campus."

"To See Macon's corridor today with tree

cover, people, a feeling of safety, good restaurants, shops, movie theatres, book stores, green grocery stores, clean and well lighted streets and sidewalks, bikeways... my heart is full."

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IV Recommendations 1

The Basics: Clean, Safe and Branded

Goals:

Ensure that College Hill is clean and safe and perceived that way by local residents, downtown workers and visitors alike. While many are proud of College Hill’s uniqueness and believe that stated concerns about crime and trash are just perceptions, perception is reality particularly to those less familiar with the area like office workers, college parents and tourists. The physical environment should exemplify the best image with clean and safe streets and a recognizable brand that capitalizes on the history, vibe and diversity of the College Hill Corridor.

Keep it Clean

Managing the cleanliness of the corridor is step one. These recommendations are about managing your urban chores and doing so in a way that is progressive.

1.1

Expand recycling and composting

Recycling in Macon is operated by the Public Works Department Solid Waste Division which collects only paper related products from residential, commercial, and institutional land uses on a weekly basis. There is also a household recycling drop-off site run independently for other materials. Despite these initial steps, participation is low. The result is that a large amount of recyclable materials are sent to landfills which strains the capacity of local landfills and costs the City money. For Macon to become a greener city, recycling must become more of a habit and way of life for all residents and visitors, and the College Hill Corridor should strive to become a model neighborhood for recycling. A local recycling initiative must make recycling easy for a wide range of materials from paper to plastic and glass, and must be accompanied by education as to why and how to recycle.

The basis for this local recycling program exists. Huegenin Heights has a local program and InTown (as well as Vineville) have been selected as a part of a City of Macon pilot "single stream plus glass" demonstration program. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority and Wal-Mart grant funds are providing approximately 1,200 households with roll-off carts for recyclables. Recyclables will be collected every other week, tonnage accurately measured by address and an accompanying awareness campaign will be supported by Macon Iron and the Keep Macon Beautiful Commission. These efforts should be reinforced and expanded throughout the area. One potential partner for an improved recycling initiative and community recycling effort is RecycleBank,3 and incentivebased recycling service provider that measures the amount recycled by each business or community member at each pick up time and translates that amount into Points redeemable at partner organizations and stores. RecycleBank typically partners with municipalities or large entities like universities, so both Mercer University and the Medical Center are candidates to help get the program moving. In addition to recycling, a composting facility should be created in the College Hill Corridor area that would serve as an educational and community resource. In 2007, two thirds of all waste sent to landfills in the United States was composed of organic materials which would be suitable for composting, including yard trimmings, food scraps, wood waste, and paper and paperboard products. A neighborhood composting facility would provide organic compost and a convenient place for local residents to drop off their organic waste in the city. A school composting program could be organized, by which organic waste could be collected in school rooms and transported to the composting facility. For many municipalities, composting has proven to be the best and least expensive method for managing leaves. An excellent location for this facility would be integrated into redevelopment plans for the property located to the west of Tyler’s Place park (commonly referred to as the dog park) across Linden Avenue close to the rail line and I-75. 3

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

See: www.recyclebank.com and www.recyclebank.com/how-it-works/kiosks


1.2

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Provide more trash receptacles

Trash cans in the College Hill Corridor are often few and far between. At times, there is noticeable garbage in the streets and sidewalks contributing to the negative perception of the City and the area. Trash cans and recycling bins should be strategically located where foot traffic and trash volume is high and spaced at least every two blocks along the sidewalk. Key streets to target first for new trash cans and recycling bins include College, Forsyth and Washington. Though functional in purpose, trash and recycling receptacles should be carefully selected or designed to ensure that they add visual interest and character to the College Hill Corridor. To boost the presence and potential of the artist community, secure funds to commission local artists to design and fabricate unique, site specific bins. Solarpowered, self-compacting “BigBelly” trash cans offer a green option for areas with the highest trash volumes. Though these bins are expensive, the compacting feature reduces the frequency of trash pick up by 70%, which offsets the purchase cost in two years. Advertising space on the bins’ outer walls can be used to defray costs… or to display art by local artists or students. In addition, the Commission should encourage the use of Bio-Bags and Bio-Paks for use at local stores and at the dog park. BioBags and Bio Paks represent one answer to the problem of plastic bags filling landfills and polluting the Earth. The Commission could purchase these biodegradable, compostable bags and to-go food containers in bulk and sell them at a discount to local stores and restaurants. This action can help businesses save money, reduce waste, and help residents get excited about, and personally invested in, sustainability.

1.3

Home Composter Demonstration Center, Marion County, Oregon

Big Belly. Source: www.bigbellysolar.com

Create a College Hill BID

A Business Improvement District (BID) can be an effective tool for establishing a longterm maintenance and improvement program. BID’s are typically targeted for business districts like downtowns and operate by assessing fees from local businesses that are reinvested for community improvements including street cleaning. Georgia law allows for the creation of these districts but their establishment requires that a specific majority of the tax base agree to participate.

Artist-adorned trash bins in Amsterdam.

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fresh start Ready, Willing & Able Philadelphia, sponsored by The Doe Fund, Inc. provides a holistic approach, “offering individuals the opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness, welfare dependency, incarceration, and substance abuse by obtaining full-time jobs, independent housing, and lasting sobriety.” Trained program participants receive an hourly stipend to provide street cleaning and land maintenance services. The stipend covers room and board expenses.”

www.rwaphilly.org

A potential BID for the College Hill Corridor should take a slightly different approach. With Mercer University, Mount De Sales, and the Medical Center of Central Georgia among other institutions as local anchors, a BID could be primarily funded by these institutions yet also improve adjoining neighborhoods without levying an additional tax or fee to residences. The University City District in West Philadelphia operates in this capacity with funding provided by local institutions but offering cleaning programs, marketing and other programs to a number of neighborhoods. The primary benefit to the institutions is an improved physical environment which helps reduce the cost in recruiting and retaining employees and students. An important early action for the newly created BID to consider is creating a regular street cleaning service as a means to provide jobs to the local homeless population and others in need. This is an important step to move those most in need into a support network and toward a path of self-reliance.

Keep it Safe

The most common concern about the corridor is that it is unsafe or, at least, it appears that way too many. There is no silver bullet to address crime or the perception of crime. As

stated in one interview, “activity creates safety.” This plan reflects this sentiment by offering a number of strategies intended to increase the activity and subsequently the feeling of safety on the streets. That said, there are a few things that can be done to directly address this concern.

1.4

Expand the presence of bicycle police

One of the goals of this plan is to make walking and biking safer and more attractive. To meet this objective while improving safety along the streets, policing should be tailored to the speeds at which members of the public will walk and bike. “Visibility is the key to prevention.” This calls for an increased presence of bicycle cops within the community. The benefits of bicycle patrols are many:

Clockwise from top left: University City District banner; street cleaning; Summer Jobs Program; graffiti removal.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

• Officers are more approachable on foot or bicycle than in patrol cars; • They enjoy enhanced mobility, as they are not restricted to the roadways or hemmed in by congestion; and • Swapping a car for a bike translates to a lesser burden on the roadways and local parking resources as well as to less air pollution. • Their presence will raise awareness of bicyclists and the challenges and dangers that cyclists in the area face.


“The stereotype is that Macon is not safe”

Track and coordinate police data between the City and Mercer

One of the difficulties in documenting that an area is safe is due to the lack of information available to policy makers and the public. This is a common issue across cities where the majority of perceptions are formed by reading the local paper which can often generalize the location of criminal activity to the detriment of one neighborhood or another. “The perception is that any crime that happens in Macon, happens

in downtown.”

Mercer currently tracks crimes specific to their student body. In addition, each City Police Precinct collects its own data. What will ultimately help the College Hill Corridor is to encourage a combined tracking system such that trends can be established and problem areas identified. This is particularly important as the College Hill Corridor effectively falls between Precincts 1, 2 and 3 and is greatly impacted by Precinct 4 across I-75. An initial step should seek to schedule a monthly meeting between the Commission, representatives of Precinct 2 (which covers the majority of the Corridor) and the Mercer Police Department to share data and discuss prevention strategies.

1.6

Encourage community policing and safety initiatives

Organize a comprehensive community policing strategy in the College Hill Corridor that includes a City Watch, a Block Captain Communication Network, and a Walk Home Escort Program. Given the high level of community interest around safety and crime concerns, a number of community-based policing strategies should be explored.

• City Watch – City Watch (often called townwatch) comprises resident

volunteers committed to patrolling local streets, corners, and pathways and working closely with the local police. NewTown Macon has just approved a City Watch program for downtown which includes $5,000 in seed money to develop a long-term organizational plan. This effort should be supported by the Commission and local institutions.

• Walk Home Escort Program – Escort programs are targeted to helping

Top: bike police; Bottom: neighborhood crime watch.

neighborhood residents walk home safely from evening meetings, classes, or other functions. Pairs of volunteer escorts should be on call after dark and accessible via a publicized dispatch number. Residents who do not feel comfortable walking home alone should be encouraged to make use of this volunteer service – and return the favor by volunteering to act as a Walk Home Escort once a month or so. The Mercer Police Department already offers similar escort services to students which should be more widely marketed to freshman students to encourage them to explore more of Macon.

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The Macon Police Department no longer provides bicycle patrols but discussions with the local precinct captain should be initiated to discuss the options for reinstating these patrols even if only a few times a week. In addition, the Mercer Police Department already patrols much of the College Hill Corridor due to the location of the Law School and medical facilities and has two bicycle officers. The Commission should also work with Mercer to expand bicycle patrols where possible within the Corridor.

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precedent:

ride smart RightRides is a volunteer organization in New York City that provides free rides and walking escorts to women, on weekend nights. RightRides’ fleet of up to 6 cars are donated by Zipcar car share service.

www.rightrides.org

1.7

This can be accomplished either with the trolley service, if the destination is within the corridor, or with a contracted taxi company. As long as these rides occur on an occasional basis, the cost should be minimal and will help reduce the traffic demand.

1.8 The Nightride Shuttle is a late-night, shared-ride taxi service organized and funded by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority in Michigan. Rides are cheaper than regular taxi service and operate seven nights a week.

www. theride. or g/ NightRide.asp

Offer a guaranteed ride home at night

One of the goals of this plan is to encourage residents and employees to use transit, walk, and car pool in order to reduce the traffic demand in the area. There are occasions when people will have to work or stay late in the area, which might mean that transit service has ended, their ride home has already left, and they do not feel comfortable walking home at that time. A guaranteed ride home program would provide transportation home for these people that are in the area later than expected.

Expand Corridor lighting and upgrade to LED

Portions of the College Hill Corridor are fitted with a pedestrian-oriented, historic light fixture. Most visible along College Street, the fixtures were installed on only one side of the street. Many in the community value these fixtures but night-time lighting is still very poor along the Corridor’s streets and sidewalks. Two solutions should be pursued to address Corridor lighting in keeping with the standard set by local residents. The first is to install the same pedestrian fixtures on both sides of the area’s main streets. This will help in improving night-time lighting while making a stronger physical statement during the day due to the expanded use of these ornamental fixtures. Second, all fixtures should be upgraded to use Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures. High pressure sodium lighting is often less bright, and more costly to maintain. LED lighting in contrast is brighter, can be engineered to highlight the sidewalk thus reducing light pollution in the sky, and greatly reduces maintenance costs - Ann Arbor has seen an annual savings on energy costs of $14,600 per fixture. While upgrading fixtures to LED will require an upfront investment, those costs can be recouped from energy savings alone within five years. LED is environmentally friendly and its soft white color has additional qualitative benefits. Residents from other cities that are moving forward with LED fixtures, including Anchorage and Raleigh, have expressed that the quality of the light is brighter, highlights colors that usually can’t be seen at night and makes the streets feel safer.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


1.9

Undertake an LED yard lighting program

To supplement street lighting, the front yards also represent opportunities to improve lighting and the overall night-time character of the Corridor. The Commission should explore the possibility of installing new low-level LED fixtures that simultaneously brighten the sidewalk and highlight each yard along the corridor. As LED requires very little maintenance, the primary cost is related to the purchase of the fixture, which is often cheaper if bought in bulk, and installation. Both of these costs could be subsidized by the Commission to encourage homeowners to participate in the initiative. So as not to compete with the existing historic street lights, it is recommended that the fixture be relatively unnoticeable during the day time, however, the final fixture type should be chosen with local residents.

1.10

Bring emergency telephones to the corridor

Many college campuses have exterior emergency telephones strategically placed to help students call for and receive help as needed and thus feel safer walking home alone at night. Some urban parks have them as well. With the cluster of schools and institutions in the College Hill Corridor and the community’s collective concerns about personal safety, particularly after dark, the Commission and its partners should consider raising funds to purchase and install 911 hotline phone boxes in key locations. The phone boxes should be deployed along dark corridors that are largely uninhabited at night but that serve as connections between major destinations. Initial locations that should be considered include College and Oglethorpe, near the Appleton Bridge, at College and Forsyth and in Daisy Park.

lighten up Ann Arbor, Michigan LED lighting initiative. Ann Arbor installed 25 LED lights along East Washington Street in 2006 and solicited community feedback. Due to overwhelming support, Ann Arbor has since converted 600 LED lights in downtown.

Raleigh, North Carolina LED lighting pilot project. Raleigh became an officially recognized “LED City� in 2007 after installing LED lighting in a government parking garage. It has since installed them around the Convention Center and has plans to extend the lighting to other areas.

Examples of LED lighting fixtures; campus emergency phone

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Tell people where they are

The energy that this project has generated from the public is a firm testament to the commitment and interest many have in College Hill, its neighborhoods and Macon as a whole. But despite the interest in the concept of the College Hill Corridor, there is still a lack of awareness about the area from both residents and visitors alike. Although many of the physical recommendations related to streetscape, open space and development discussed later in this plan will help to build a stronger identity for the area, some simpler initiatives can move forward quickly to build upon the College Hill brand that is already becoming recognizable throughout the region.

1.11 Create an annual calendar of events

The College Hill Corridor is an active community. Outdoor movies, gospel brunches, cocktail hours, a yearly Thriller dance as well as a number of concerts organized by grassroots groups like the Macon Venue Project have expanded the range of what there is to do in the Corridor and downtown. But as with any area that suddenly experiences a range of new activities, many driven by grassroots initiatives, sometimes the message gets lost while planning the event. This left one focus group participant to remark “I

think something’s happening almost every evening but there is no one place to find out.” Some of the many events going on in Macon

"The streets are full of pedestrians, bikers, and skateboarders. Gotta go check out the movie in Tattnall Square."

NewTown Macon, the Contemporary Arts Exchange and the 11th Hour among others keep track of events but many residents have asked for one coordinated events calendar. The Macon College Town website4 could be expanded as an inclusive portal to the area, providing information on activities, local artists and local businesses as well as an interactive annual calendar of events highlighting sales events, festivals, programs at local parks and other gatherings. This calendar could also be re-packaged as a print edition calendar for sale to raise money for the local arts. Events, both City-wide and community-oriented should find a home including such diverse activities as: • • • • • • •

4

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

The Macon GA Film & Video Festival (4th annual); The Cherry Blossom Festival (since 1982); Market on the Green (Saturday farmer’s market on Poplar); Taste of Pleasant Hill (in its 5th year); Critical Mass on last Friday; Macon Venue Project; and Paint the Town Orange (started April 2008).

http://www.maconcollegetown.com/


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Student guide to Pittsburgh; branded reusable bag.

Examples of wayfinding signage

1.12 Develop a student-produced guide to Macon

1.14 Create an integrated signage / wayfinding system

For juniors and seniors as well as graduate students, Macon can be a fun place. While many students that have participated in this plan have lamented that there is not more to do, they also spoke glowingly of places like Rose Hill Cemetery, the Indian Mounds, downtown bars, Washington Park and Tattnall Square to name a few places. As college students often see and experience cities differently than others, their perspective is unique and valuable for other students as well as new Mercer faculty, new residents and Medical Center recruits. Students at Mercer should be encouraged as a part of a service learning project to create a guide to Macon that highlights its College Town Cool factor. The guide should include tips for incoming students, key amenities, events and information on local neighborhoods.

1.13 Create and distribute reusable CHCC shopping bags/totes

The Commission should design and distribute reusable shopping bags to area businesses. The bags would help businesses go green by cutting down the use of plastic bags but would also help to further market the Commission, the Corridor and the momentum that’s already been generated by this project.

Curious visitors or interested local residents could get lost in the details of Macon’s impressive architecture, alone, but there’s so much more to see – hidden, but in such close proximity. Macon’s street system is not the clear grid found in other cities. It’s quirky, unique but also initially confusing to newcomers. Large institutions such as the Medical Center have expressed a need for better wayfinding that is consistent with the look and feel of the Corridor. The Commission should engage a graphic designer to design, locate, fabricate and install a wayfinding signage system throughout the Corridor to make sure that foot, bike and car traffic is encouraged to explore all that the area has to offer. The new signage should serve as branding for the Corridor and major institutions, and raise awareness of nearby amenities. Specifically, the signage system will need to accomplish multiple tasks : • Direct car traffic to the Medical Center, Mercer, downtown and other major destinations; • Identify key assets and local histories; • Encourage bicycling; • Encourage walking and exploring by offering detailed information for pedestrians; • Identify the proposed trail system; and • Potentially integrate MTA information to encourage local transit use over time.

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[murmur] [murmur] is a documentary oral history project that records stories and memories told about specific geographic locations. Stories are accessible online and via cell phone by dialling the telephone number on [murmur] signs installed at the locations where the stories take place. [murmur] has also launched in Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary in Canada; San Jose, California; Edinburgh, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland; and São Paulo, Brazil.

www.murmurtoronto.ca

1.15 Make a new Living History map

In addition to signage, the College Hill Corridor should be using its website to communicate with the neighbors and the public about all that is interesting in College Hill, past and present. The Commission should create an interactive web interface that collects, presents, and invites people to share their Macon stories and histories in written or visual form, video segments, or sound recordings. The proposed website/evolving digital art installation designed to uncover and communicate the area’s hidden narratives could take many forms, inspired and influenced by the local creative community. Beautiful and compelling examples exist of web-based storytelling initiatives underway in other cities. Look to Murmur in Toronto, which ties recorded oral histories to an online map of specific districts in the City. Murmur’s stories can also be accessed via cell phone as people explore the city streets. In Los Angeles, an independent online media source, KCET 28 has published a series of neighborhood profiles under the title, Explore CA, Departures. The profiles merge photography and annotated collage, video and audio portraits to offer a glimpse of the place and its people. The opportunity in Macon is emphasize not just the historic architecture, but the living history of residents from all walks of life. The quirky and unique aspects of the City’s identity should take center stage with a nod to recent events that have placed Macon on a national stage such as the Allman Brothers’ local presence. Maconites love their stories. This is one way to collect and re-tell local stories to a larger audience.

“The city is full of stories, and some of them happen in parking lots and bungalows, diners and front lawns. The smallest, greyest or most nondescript building can be transformed by the stories that live in it.”

- [murmur]

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"There is always something going on in the area…music is playing, art is on display, people are playing sports in the park, movies are showing… and it’s wonderful!"

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get stARTed Pittsburgh’s Penn Avenue Arts Initiative (PAAI) is an arts-based community development organization with a mission of using the arts to enhance public perception of the district, fostering inter and intra community ties, and establishing an artist’s niche. Acting as an arts advocate and promoter, PAAI works to entice artists to live and work along the corridor.

www.pennavenuearts.org DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

The Vibe: College Town Cool

Goals:

Make College Hill the center of creative expression in the region. Infuse the streets and buildings with the arts and temporary events designed to promote downtown, Mercer and InTown as mixed-use, diverse and urban. But creating a college town feel is not just about the arts and events but also about creating a stronger connection between Mercer’s facilities and residents.

Reinforce the arts and add new events to the calendar

There is talent and creativity in Macon. Like many cities, much of the artistic talent is within or close to downtown. Reinforcing and supporting the local arts is good for businesses, neighborhoods and the image of the City. At the same time, a city’s vibe is also shaped by temporary events. Local examples include St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Octoberfest in Helen or the Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon. “There is a lot of new blood here” which craves new things to do and more ways to celebrate their city. Organizing events, as the Commission is already doing, provides opportunities for civic expression unique to the Corridor.


2.1

Create a race on the hill!

One of Macon’s most unique physical conditions is the topography which at times is gentle and rolling and at other times dramatic. Some cities have used their topography for creative purposes by organizing bike races or, in other adventurous settings, an urban Iditarod. Macon once had a bike race pass through town but the opportunity is to organize an event that specifically highlights the dramatic changes in elevation as well as the connection to downtown. Two possibilities should be considered: • An urban bike slalom course where riders would race against a clock to the bottom of the hill. A night-time race should also be considered to encourage use of downtown restaurants and bars. The Athens Twilight Criterium in Athens is the largest event in Athens and is the highest income-producing weekend of the year for downtown retailers. • A soapbox race comprised of small soapbox racers made by students, residents and artists.

2.2

Parties in the streets!

2.3

Organize and market a weekly “open late” night

It’s not as subversive as it sounds. Street festivals and neighborhood block parties are common in many cities. The Commission should consider temporary street closings for events that will help to brand the area and support business. An initial opportunity is to close Coleman and Montpelier for Mercer’s homecoming and / or a Super Bowl party to encourage students and neighbors to get together and reclaim the streets. Thousands of workers come to downtown and the Corridor daily many of which leave at 5:00. NewTown Macon and the Commission should consider organizing one night a week for stores to stay open to 8:00pm. The idea is to encourage office workers and Medical Center employees to stay, shop and experience the area after work. There is more incentive to stay if there is more open and more to do.

The ideal location of a race would be Magnolia Street starting at Washington Park to make use of the significant hill to build speed down the hill. Nearby homeowners never fear, the street would be lined with stacks of hay to protect lawns and out of control riders.

Potential soapbox race down the hill. A more traditional approach is to organize a bike race down the hill.

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2.4

Put artists to work

2.5

Take reading (and music) to the streets

New streetscape elements including benches, trash cans, bus shelters, news stands, and bike racks are valuable amenities for neighborhoods such as those in the College Hill Corridor area. Instead of purchasing these elements from catalogues, however, the Commission should contract these elements from local artists where possible. Successful examples of this type of program exist in Syracuse, San Diego, and St. Paul among other cities. The first pilot project should be to commission and install 10-20 new bike racks along College Street. Close coordination will be necessary with the City and Mercer for location, installation, and permitting. College Hill is filled with institutions of learning for all ages. To encourage reading, an appreciation for art and maybe a nod to the City’s musical past, the sidewalks and plazas should be utilized as an opportunity to express the words of Macon. Take reading to the streets in several ways:

• Temporary Public Art – Link reading clubs at local schools to temporary public art installations related to the current book. Consider stenciling excerpts of books chosen by students and teachers in semi-permanent paint or chalk on streets and sidewalks near playgrounds and parks.

• Poetic Public Art – Stamp newly poured concrete with the words of local residents,

children and musicians both current and past. The concrete stamps would be an opportunity to add value to improved sidewalks. A poetry competition could be held to determine a short-list of local poems to be included into the project.

There is already a little playfulness along the Corridor's streets. It's time to encourage it further.

Painted utility box on San Diego's Urban Art Trail; prize-winning student-designed bus shelter in Buffalo, New York; bike rack.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


reading is cool The Get London Reading campaign was a viral/guerilla style marketing strategy that utilized sidewalk stencils to paint excerpts from books set in London on to local streets and sidewalks. The campaign also employed an online interactive map that ties books – title, author, and summary – to the location of their settings within London’s neighborhoods.

www.getlondonreading.co.uk Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk in St. Paul, Minnesota is another literary public art project in which the artist imprinted the poetry of 34 local poets into sidewalks across the City. What if Greater Spruce Streets’ students grew up with strings of William Carlos Williams words floating through their heads each morning?

www.publicar ts tpaul.or g/ everydaysidewalk

2.6

Convert vacant storefront space for artist live / work space

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When downtown served as the central shopping locale in the region, storefronts served as one of the main attractions. Today, many of these former storefronts, as well as some that have been recently renovated, are vacant, awaiting the movement of suitable tenants beyond existing retail areas. The result is pleasing to no one: sidewalks drained of life, “For Lease” signs plastered across storefronts, and expensive new construction producing no revenue. As expressed by a business owner, “for whatever reason, businesses downtown have a hard time.” This of course doesn’t have to be the case and there are a lot of positive signs that indicate a change for the better. But in the meantime, simple market forces will not transform unused storefronts into leased space on their own. For this reason, the Commission and their partners should advocate for the conversion of storefronts to artists’ gallery, studio, and, where appropriate, live/work space in downtown. The addition of these types of spaces would achieve a number of positive goals: • Viable businesses on streets that are currently deadened by empty storefronts will benefit as artists replace “For Lease” signs with original works of art and generate additional foot traffic in harmony with the character of these streets. • Building owners will begin to realize a modest return on their investment in extensive ground floor retail space and, as traffic increases, attract the conventional retail and service tenants for whom the spaces were originally conceived. A readily used program across the country – Art in Storefronts – would be a great first step. There is clearly some evidence of this taking place downtown already but to expand the presence and visibility of the initiative, financial support is needed. The Façade Squad could be a willing partner for specific properties where art could an integrated element with the overall façade rehabilitation. Reusing storefronts spaces for galleries or even live/work space until the market is stronger has its own set of challenges including zoning and willingness of owners to allow a lower-paying use than hoped for. The Commission and NewTown Macon can play a substantial role in overcoming obstacles by providing the leverage to request a zoning change or special use permit and providing both building owners and prospective tenants with a path to follow to achieve the goal of replacing vacant retail spaces with live-work space for artists. The Commission and NewTown Macon should lead this effort by recruiting interested artists and land owners in an effort to match the two. Building owners must understand that such adaptations and permits will do nothing to limit their rights and prospects. By bringing in artists today, owners will finally begin to see income from these spaces and will increase the value of their overall investment by reinforcing the cultural value of living and working in downtown and the College Hill Corridor. This effort could begin modestly with the hopes of gaining two or three live/work spaces in the first year, using modest personnel resources, with the hopes of growing the program.

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Figure 45. Existing vacant storefront and rendering of proposed reuse as art gallery or temporary live / work space.

Figure 46. Existing vacant storefront and rendering of proposed reuse for installations.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


2.7

Develop affordable arts space in the upper floors of mixed-use buildings

An inviting community to artists includes proximity to markets (of which Atlanta is one) and affordable live and work space. But much of the same holds true for other creative industries like graphic designers and architects that often look for unique space at lower costs. The building stock in downtown is ripe for these types of uses. Poplar Street in particular is lined with deceptively large buildings with often unused upper floors that could provide a home for creative industries. Bringing more artists and offices to Poplar Street would support the continuing conversion of historic, downtown buildings to residential use by further increasing the density of uses and people that can ultimately support a healthy market for new retail stores. As found in other cities that are building an arts scene, a range of incentives will be needed to initially attract artists and other creative industries. Tax breaks or grants are the most frequent incentives which artists and others use to write down the cost of rent and any rehabilitation necessary to make the space usable. The City’s Department of Economic Development and NewTown Macon should discuss a range of economic incentives that may be offered and marketed to creative businesses and artists.

Existing upper floor vacancies.

2.8

Encourage roving galleries for local artists

Existing and new businesses are gathering spots for the community. With an eye toward bringing more local arts into the civic realm, these businesses should be encouraged to invite artists to populate the business’s interior with local artworks that add color and interest to the walls. These initiatives usually benefit each business’s bottom line and the artists claim a bit of gallery space in which to display their pieces for sale. Such mutually beneficial arrangements should be encouraged, formalized, and marketed, and the Commission should play a role. After surveying business owners, the Commission should compile a list of those interested and distribute the list among local arts organizations, encouraging local artists to contact the Commission if he or she finds such a “gallery” opportunity appealing. The Commission would then work with local arts organizations to curate and coordinate the creation of a series of such “galleries.” Once the “galleries” are established, the Commission should organize and market a regular opening night or gallery walk among these spaces, welcoming neighbors and visitors to view the art, meet the artists, and perhaps enjoy a happy hour cocktail, a bite to eat, or a special sale depending on the venue.

The hidden gem of many buildings - large, unique space suitable for creative production. Image courtesy of Bright Blue Sky Productions.

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2.9

Transform key blank spaces into canvasses

Public art can make a significant impact on the perception of a place. The College Hill Corridor should use murals to introduce beauty to blank walls and celebrate themes of Macon’s history and current identity. Highly visible surfaces near the Corridor’s main entrances and intersections should be targeted, and the murals should be designed in collaboration with a mural artist, with the design process acting as a community building exercise just as valuable as the final product. The following façades and walls represent mural opportunity sites, visible both to drivers and pedestrians, there to enliven the streetscape for both visitors and local residents: • West Macon Screen; • The retaining wall of the post office parking lot along Magnolia if it cannot be transformed into a living wall; • The back wall of the St. Joseph’s School until their planned addition facing Washington Avenue moves forward; • The Bibb Theater; and precedent: • The office facing Tattnall Square at Oglethorpe and Tattnall.

"Cobblestone

streets, walking trails, no more cars, bikes everywhere, College Hill is full of life—an artist’s haven and an atmo-

sphere of creative energy."

mural arts

Since its founding in 1984, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program has actively engaged community members in the transformation of Philadelphia’s cityscape through the creation of over 2,700 murals. The program was originally conceived as a strategy to alleviate the visual effects of neighborhood blight and rampant graffiti, but the achievements of the mural arts program — stabilization of abandoned lots and revitalization of open spaces, arts education, youth involvement, and community building, among others — are far reaching. A University of Pennsylvania study found that every dollar of city funding for murals leverages an average of 65 cents in community contributions. Philadelphia’s murals have also become integral to the city’s image at large and, likewise, to the tourist experience.

www.muralarts.org DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Top to bottom: Post office parking lot retention wall; wall at St. Joseph's Catholic School; West Macon Screen on Montpelier.


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Figure 47. Rendering of proposed mural treatment at West Macon Screen.

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“There should be more incentives to get students involved in Macon and the community.� DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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Expand neighborhood engagement with Mercer

2.10 Encourage more Service-Learning Projects

Service learning projects combine real world challenges with class assignments and curricula. They are opportunities to get students into the community which often improves their perception and appreciation for the context in which the University is located. Universities that have embraced the concept have found that students who participate in service learning projects are more likely to stay in the city after graduation than those who have not. Mercer is no stranger to service learning projects. The College Hill Corridor is the product of a service learning project which resulted in the initial concept. Faculty have committed to extending these projects with the goal of introducing students to a range of issues and Macon itself. The Mercer administration and the Commission should further encourage service learning projects as a part of the evolution of this plan and its implementation. Many ideas have already been discussed. The following represent the best initial fit with this plan: • Compile living history stories and artifacts for an on-line story-telling initiative (Recommendation 1.15); • Create a student produced guide to College Town Cool (Recommendation 1.12) • Organize a poetry contest for a public art project (Recommendation 2.4); • Develop the clues and rules for an urban scavenger hunt (Recommendation 2.10) • Work with community groups to green vacant lots and install community gardens (see inset case study); and • Encourage art in storefronts and work with the façade squad to improve facades (Recommendation 2.5).

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Without a strong presence of Mercer, there is no College Town Cool. The opportunity with the College Hill Corridor has long been discussed as a critical connection between Mercer and Downtown. But just as it is important to encourage Mercer students and faculty to populate downtown, it is also critical to encourage more engagement with the campus. One participant put it succinctly - “the corridor is not a one-way street.” The following recommendations are oriented toward programs, events and initiatives that blur the line between campus and City.

Service learning project at Tindall Heights' Joshua House.

precedent:

greenbacks for green acts While there may be a few magnanimous teens out there who would readily spend their entire summer vacation toiling away in vacant lots, picking up trash and planting gardens out of the goodness of their hearts and pride for their communities, offering some cash might attract a few more recruits. That strategy has worked wonders for Save Our Urban Land (SOUL), a program organized by the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service with grant funding from the Illinois EPA. SOUL sets forth the goals of community revitalization, youth involvement and environmental education, and non-point source water pollution prevention; goals which have been directly addressed via the transformation of eight junk-laden vacant lots in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood into attractive community vegetable and flower gardens.

www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/programs/soul.html

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“As a freshman, Macon is not really available”

2.11 Develop a scavenger hunt for incoming Mercer Students

The planning process revealed that many freshman students are hesitant to leave campus, particularly those new to Macon. The week of freshman orientation is the opportunity to encourage them to know and explore Macon from day one. A scavenger hunt should be organized that highlights the historic, delicious, unique, hidden and quirky aspects of downtown and the College Hill Corridor. While a scavenger hunt focused over a day or the first entire week of freshman orientation could make a lasting impact on new students, there are opportunities to continue the hunt throughout the year and coordinate the hunt on-line. Geocaching is a growing phenomenon that combines GPS technology (found in cell phones) with a scavenger hunt. Hidden treasures or “caches” are hidden in the real world and the experiences of finding and discovering them are documented on-line.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

2.12 Offer Mercer Bucks discounts for area businesses

As a way of further encouraging students and faculty to patronize area businesses, Mercer Bucks could be created that would provide a discount on goods and services at participating businesses. Businesses get the benefit of more student and faculty shoppers and students have an incentive to shop downtown and in the Corridor. There are already versions of this idea in practice in Macon including the “Take a Bite Out of Downtown” event which offers discounts at restaurants for students on a designated evening and the “Impulse Card” provided by NewTown Macon which is set for a re-launch.

2.13 Offer student night at cultural spots

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 even overall increased visitorship at the venues themselves. Free Fridays at the Museum or “Free First Friday” encourage a greater connection with the institution and have been successful in both small and large cities.


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2.14 Recruit local students for Bear Bike bike mechanic workshops

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The Bear Bike program is unique and has already garnered some national press. For the program to fully take off, however, students willing to work on bikes are necessary to enlarge the fleet. As many Mercer students are busy with school work, Mercer should consider reaching out to students at Mount De Sales, Central High School, and other schools to enlist extra man (kid) power to repair bikes. In exchange, the students would get bike borrowing privileges similar to Mercer students. Besides helping to teach a usable skill, this initiative would help to form a stronger bond between the many schools that occupy the area.

2.15 Encourage new courses to serve the broader community

Mercer has excellent faculty, programs and courses. Many residents would jump at the chance to access a sampling of classes if offered. Many schools offer broader community inclusion in classes in primarily two ways: • Through paid, non-credit courses taught by faculty usually over the course of 5-6 weeks, one night a week; and • By allowing residents to audit designated classes. Every University is different and Mercer should consider what works best for their objectives and the interests of the community. To start this conversation, research into nation best practices should be conducted which will help to define ways to develop, implement and locally market the program.

2.16 Consider a Neighbors Bear Card

The Bear Card provides Mercer students will full access to University facilities. While most facilities should be oriented to students only, a few amenities could be considered for use by the community with a Neighbors Bear Card. The Neighbors Bear Card would allow the University to control access and monitor use by residents to select facilities including the student center and food court; and the trolley which would offer residents another transportation option at night. A yearly subscription fee could be used to secure a Neighbors Bear Card which would initially control the volume of applications until the program could be further evaluated.

From the top: The Bear Bikes program could offer skills training for a wide range of local students; Mercer Bucks to be spent in participating downtown restaurants and stores; and be sure to market Mercer sporting and music events.

2.17 Market sports and music events

Sporting events and music events are already open to the community and often free but many are unaware of when and where these activities take place. Sandwich boards are posted around the area on game days for the basketball team in an attempt to draw fans to games. Mercer and the Commission should develop a marketing strategy to further encourage neighbor attendance at these events and support school pride.

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3

The Connection: Cooling the Streets

Goals:

Create a transportation system that is safe and efficient for pedestrians and bicyclists. This includes slowing the traffic down and restoring priority and space on the roads to users other than cars. Instill a street-level vibrancy that is not present today. Reduce the traffic congestion and emissions on the study area roadways. Improve the safety for vehicles. Cooling the Streets is the process that we employ to achieve the stated goals of this project; we want to turn down the temperature of traffic as well as make the streets a more vibrant place to be. People should consider walking and biking in the area to be a safe and convenient alternative to driving. More people walking and biking not only creates a more livable area for current residents and employees, but it also makes it more attractive to investors, developers, and potential residents.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Connect Mercer to Downtown

It is imperative that improvements be made to make the area much more walkable and bikeable. These improvements will improve the physical and economical health of Macon’s community and create an outside perception of Macon as a progressive city. Successful neighborhoods rely on more than just cars driving in and out of them. They need people out walking the sidewalks, riding their bikes in the streets, and efficient transit options. Transportation can serve as more than just as a way to get from point A to point B. It is as an integral component of creating community on both the neighborhood and city scale. One of the missing pieces in the College Hill Corridor is the lack of any real pedestrian or bicycle connection between Mercer and Downtown Macon. The numerous obstacles that pedestrians and bicyclists must overcome in the area in order to feel safe have already been detailed. Without people on the street, the sense of life in the area is muted and it does not encourage others to walk or bike. The most direct connection between Mercer and Downtown is via College Street and Forsyth Street. Additional connections can be made in the future through Oglethorpe, Washington, Georgia, Cherry, and Mulberry Streets, creating a College Town Cool network.


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Figure 48. College Town Network

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Create a Bicycling Community

Bicycling is rapidly becoming a popular mode of transportation in urban communities. Biking two or three miles to a retail or restaurant establishment and leaving the car parked at home is occurring much more frequently all across the country. This surge in biking is due to community leaders making bicycle infrastructure and safety a priority as well as residents taking it upon themselves to reduce their vehicular impact. Getting the buy-in of both the leaders and the residents is the key to creating a successful bicycling community. There are three pieces that are necessary to create a successful biking system: infrastructure, climate, and having a pool of potential bike riders. Infrastructure: Bicycling infrastructure refers to any physical structure or improvement that supports or promotes bicycling in an area. In comparison to the typical costs associated with roadway infrastructure, the cost of bicycling infrastructure is typically relatively inexpensive. Examples of bicycling infrastructure include striping of bicycle lanes on-street, constructing separated bicycling lanes, installation of bike parking, consideration for bicyclists at traffic signals, and bike signage. 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.

With the exception of a few bicycle racks on Mercer’s campus, there is no bicycle infrastructure in the College Hill Corridor. It is unlikely that a bicycling community will ever exist in the area without creating an infrastructure that caters to bicyclists. Climate: Weather plays an important part in determining how successful bicycling can be. If the weather is too cold or too hot for too many days of the year, it is unlikely that bicycling will become popular in an area. Macon has a great climate for bicycling, with the exception being the hottest of days in the summer. Riders: A bicycling community won’t exist without people who are willing to ride their bikes. There must be a pool of potential riders in a community and they must own bikes. They must be fit enough to ride a bike and have a desire to do so. The most common reasons people increase bicycle use are for exercise or to reduce their dependence on an automobile, therefore improving the environment and saving money in the process. The most vocal reason that people choose not ride their bike is a fear of safety, whether it is real or perceived. There are many people who would like to ride their bicycle more, but do not feel safe sharing the road with cars and trucks that are traveling next to them at much higher speeds. People feel safer riding their bikes on-street when they see the presence of other riders.5 It is imperative that we get as many people riding their bikes, so that potential riders can feel comfortable and get over their fears. 5 University of New South Wales (2008, September 7). A Virtuous Cycle: Safety In Numbers For Bicycle Riders. ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ / releases/2008/09/080903112034.htm

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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Figure 49. Rendering of proposed bicycling infrastructure improvements for the Corridor Left: Existing College Street streetscape.

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Separated and Dedicated

Dedicated

Shared

New York City, NY

Richmond, VA

Pittsburgh, PA

Copenhagen, Denmark

Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn, NY

3.1

Stripe separated and shared bike lanes in the College Hill Corridor

Bike lanes instill a sense of safety in bicyclists by creating space only for their use and making cars aware of their presence. There are three types of bike lanes: separated lanes, dedicated lanes and shared lanes. Dedicated lanes give bikes in their own lanes to travel in, while dedicated and separated lanes provide a physical separation from car traffic. Shared lanes are lanes in which both cars and bikes share the space and are striped and signed to alert drivers of this. It is recommended that all three types of bike lanes be used along the College Hill Corridor’s roadways.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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Figure 50. Proposed Bicycle Lanes by Type

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College Street between Oglethorpe Street and Forsyth Street College Street has a width of 40 feet in this section and has one lane of travel and one lane of parking on both sides of the street. We observed minimal parking demand on this section of College Street, but there are events at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Tattnall Square Church and the Garden Center that create a higher parking demand. We have developed two alternative cross-sections for this section.

Figure 51. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — existing cross-section

Alternative 1 explores removing both parking lanes creates enough width to provide a separated bicycle lane and a median, either striped or raised, to separate bicycle traffic from vehicular traffic. “Pocket parking” would be striped in a few locations to provide 5 or 6 on-street parking spaces to residents and visitors.

Figure 52. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — proposed cross-section: alternative 1

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


Alternative 2 shows keeping one of the parking lanes reduces the amount of space that can be dedicated to bicyclists. This results in a narrower bike lane and median.

Figure 53. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — proposed cross-section: alternative 2

College Street between Georgia Avenue and Riverside Drive

We recommend that both lanes of on-street parking be removed for separated bicycle lanes, with a few conditions. Removing on-street parking is a sensitive situation, but the minimal on-street parking demand on these two blocks does not necessitate a dedicated parking lane. A detailed parking study should be conducted on College Street on a number of weekdays, Sundays, and days when special events take place. If the parking study concludes that the on-street parking demand is higher than our observations, then one lane of on-street parking should be kept and the bike lanes and the separated median should be reduced in size. The College Hill Corridor Commission and the City of Macon must also work with the residents of College Street, the Churches, and the Garden Center to plan where the pocket parking should be located and how to accommodate the occasional parking demand that is associated with special events. Shared lanes are recommended on College Street between Georgia Avenue and Riverside Drive, preserving on-street parking.

Figure 54. College between Georgia and Riverside — proposed cross-section

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College Street between Oglethorpe Street and Forsyth Street


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Figure 55. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — alternative 1 with striped separation between bicycle and travel lanes. Inset: existing condition on College Street.

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Figure 56. College between Oglethorpe and Forsyth — alternative 1 with a planted separation between bicycle and travel lanes. Inset: existing condition on the bridge at College Street and Appleton Lane College Street.

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Forsyth Street between College Street and Spring Street A similar range of tools can be employed for Forsyth Street. Between College and Spring Street, there is an opportunity to create dedicated bicycle lanes without reducing traffic flow by creating a left turn lane. Between Spring and DT Walton Way, the cross section includes shared lanes and two-way traffic as it currently exists. The proposal is to create new on-street parking where it currently does not exist between Spring and New Street.

Figure 57. Forsyth between College and Spring — existing cross-section

Figure 58. Forsyth between College and Spring — proposed cross-section

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Forsyth Street/DT Walton Way

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Forsyth Street between Spring Street and New Street

Figure 59. Forsyth between Spring and New — existing cross-section

Figure 61. Forsyth / DT Walton Way — existing cross-section

Figure 60. Forsyth between Spring and New — proposed cross-section

Figure 62. Forsyth / DT Walton Way — proposed cross-section

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3.2

Install bike parking in the College Hill Corridor

Bicyclists need places to park their bikes other than trees and street signs. Dedicated bike parking is necessary infrastructure in areas with bicycling activity. Bike parking should be secure and if possible, safe from weather. Off-street bike parking should be installed at a number of locations throughout the study area. These locations are where the initial demand for bike parking is to be expected. As development occurs in the corridor, additional bicycle parking should be provided. On-street bike parking has recently found popularity in many other locations in North America. It is accomplished by removing an on-street vehicular parking space and installing bike parking in its place. This creates more sidewalk space for cafes, landscaping, or pedestrians. As development on Forsyth and Cotton occurs, consideration should be given to installing an on-street bike parking space in that area as well as at a location Downtown. New developments in the area should be required to install bicycle parking, similar to vehicular parking requirements. This should be required of all new developments in Macon.

Top to bottom: off-street, covered bike parking in New York City; off-street, covered bike parking in Brussels; on-street bike parking in Montreal.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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Figure 63. Priority locations for bicycle parking

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Left to right: colored bike box and lane in Vancouver; Bear Bikes bike sharing program; Bike to Work Week in Los Angeles; pedicabs in New York City.

3. 3

Add bike boxes at intersections

3. 4

Institute a Bikes for Cars program at Mercer

Bike boxes are a physical method to restore space, priority and safety to bicyclists at signalized intersections. They allow bicyclists to do what they naturally should do by moving them ahead of the vehicle stop bar and therefore making themselves more visible to vehicles. Bike boxes should be provided at all signalized intersections that are being re-striped with bike lanes. One of the biggest obstacles to creating a bicycling community, especially amongst college students, is the initial cost of purchasing a bike. Mercer should institute a Bikes for Cars program in which it offers existing and incoming students a new bicycle and in return students agree to not bring a car to campus. This program would increase the number of bicyclists, but also reduce the number of vehicles on campus. Mercer should be aggressive in supporting any possible way to increase the number of bicyclists in the area. While there are new costs involved with this program (a new bike can cost between $200 and $500 depending on the brand/model), it will pay off in the long term. Fewer cars on campus means fewer parking spaces required both now and in the future. This reduces/eliminates the cost of building parking for future student housing. For the cost of a new parking space in a parking structure, Mercer could purchase 80 new bicycles.6 6

Assuming $20,000 for a structured parking space and $250 cost per bicycle.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

3. 5

Expand Bike Sharing

3.6

Bike Macon Bike

The Bear Bike program is an innovative and successful bike sharing program that has been nationally recognized.7 This program should continue to be supported and enhanced through better bikes, more stations where bikes are available, and making them available to visitors and guests to the Hilton Garden. The proposed infrastructure improvements will create a unique bicycling environment in not only Macon, but in the State of Georgia. Bike Macon Bike is a program that will both encourage residents to bike, but also market the City’s bicycling assets to the rest of the region. The program would create and distribute a map and website that would include a map of on-street bike routes, the Ocmulgee Trail and additional recreational destinations, bike friendly retailers, and historic sites. The College Hill Corridor should work with Atlanta Bicycle Campaign to get the word out about Macon’s bicycling community.

7 Zezima, Katie. “With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus” The New York Times, October 19, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/education/20bikes.html


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3. 7

Establish an Education/Bike Ambassador Program

3.8

Offer Discounts for bike riders

3.9

Sponsor a Bike to Work Week

In order to build a biking community, there will have to be a significant amount of new bike riders in the area. To help these new riders feel safe and comfortable riding on the streets with cars, a bicycle educations/ambassador program should be established. Volunteers will be necessary to hold educational seminars in schools, churches, etc to help people ride bikes. College Hill could sponsor the education and provide giveaways, such as free helmets, reflectors, stickers, and rain gear.

3.10 Encourage Student-Run Pedicab Business

Pedicabs are a more modern version of the rickshaw; instead of people pulling a cart with people in it, the pedicab is powered by a bicycle. We see an opportunity for a student run pedicab business in Mercer and Macon. It could be used to transport guests of the Hilton Garden to Mercer Village/Downtown Macon, take visitors on tours of historic Macon, and transport students to/from the bars downtown. It would be a unique service that could distinguish Mercer and Macon from other college towns in the country.

The College Hill Corridor should work with local Macon businesses to develop a discount for bike riders. This would encourage people to bike to local businesses and increase sales at the businesses that agree to participate. The College Hill Corridor should sponsor the first annual Bike to Work week in Macon. The goal would be to get as many people to ride their bike to work as possible. Prizes should be awarded to companies with the most riders and most miles traveled. A bicycle friendly events could be held in the evening is conjunction with Bike to Work Week.

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Improve the Pedestrian Experience

Walkable communities are enjoyable places to live, work, and play. Many different aspects go into making an area walkable, but the one vital component is a significant amount of pedestrians walking throughout the day. Benefits from successful walking communities include improving the health of residents, reduction in crime, increasing social interaction between neighbors, increasing retail sales, reducing transportation costs, increasing home values, and reducing pollution.

3.11 Bury the utilities

One of the main physical obstacles for pedestrians to navigate in the College Hill Corridor are the numerous utility poles that are either in the sidewalks or right along the edge. It makes it more difficult to walk on the sidewalks, and also degrades the aesthetic experience of the pedestrian. The overhead utilities also affect the amount of shade on the sidewalks. When the existing trees begin to interfere with the power lines, Georgia Power has the authority to cut down the limbs at their own discretion, and have done so in the past. Burying the utilities would allow trees to grow over the sidewalks and give more shade and would create a significantly better experience for pedestrians.

3.12 Widen sidewalks

The width of the sidewalks varies throughout the corridor from less than 4 feet at some locations to other areas that have sidewalk widths as generous as 8 feet. At a minimum, all sidewalks should be at least five feet, but any opportunity to widen the sidewalks and provide more space to pedestrians should be explored. This can be done by reducing lane sizes or removing parking during streetscape/road projects or requiring future development to be set back further from the roadway. The priority streets for sidewalk widening includes: • College Street • Georgia Street • Washington Street • Magnolia Street

3.13 Create a Brick Sidewalk Rehab/Repair Program

Brick pavers in Rosa Parks Square.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

One of the unique features in the College Hill Corridor is the variety of brick sidewalks that serve the residential units in the area. As aesthetically pleasing as the brick is to walk along, it also can be very difficult to maintain. There are numerous brick sidewalks in front of private residences that are in need of repair. The College Hill Corridor, the City of Macon, and the Historic Macon Foundation should partner in a program to financially assist homeowners with the cost of repairing their brick sidewalks. This unique feature helps establish the historic character of the neighborhood and should be maintained in the future.


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Figure 64. Proposed Sidewalk Improvements

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Figure 65. Magnolia between College and Orange — existing cross-section

Figure 66. Magnolia between College and Orange — proposed cross-section

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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Figure 67. Rendering of Magnolia Street Improvements.

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Reduce the traffic and parking demand at Mercer

The majority of the students at Mercer University have their own car on campus. Faculty and staff also commute to campus via their automobile. It is convenient to drive to campus and there are not many other alternatives to driving that are both safe and efficient. The popularity of cars on campus negatively impacts both Mercer and the College Hill Corridor in a number of ways. More cars on campus require more parking spaces, which mean more land for parking lots and less for new buildings or open space. Additional vehicular traffic around Mercer not only adds traffic congestion and increases emissions, but it also negatively affects the pedestrian and bicyclist environment. As the University continues to grow and prosper, these negative impacts will only continue to deteriorate; more space will be needed for parking, traffic volumes in the area will increase, and the safety and experience of pedestrians and bicyclists will continue to be degraded. That is, unless steps are taken to reduce the amount of cars and driving on campus. Changing this behavior can be accomplished by instituting a series of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies. Many of the recommendations listed in this section can also be applied to other areas of the corridor and the City of Macon, but the most significant impact can be made on the driving behavior of the Mercer campus. The goal of these TDM methods is to reduce both the short-term and long-term traffic and parking demand on campus.

Parking at Mercer Village.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

3.14 Bring Car Sharing to Macon

We learned from our interviews and discussions with Mercer students and faculty that most students have a car on campus. Most students don’t have a daily demand for their car, but it is necessary to make weekly or monthly trips to the grocery store, the movie theater, or retail stores. The majority of trips aren’t made on campus, but to destinations outside of Mercer. There must be a convenient alternative to convince students that live on campus to leave their car at home. Some students may be able to accomplish this by biking or walking, this is not a realistic solution for everyone. If a student wants to go to Kroger or their favorite Waffle House, a car may be necessary. This can be solved by introducing the concept of car sharing to Mercer University. Car sharing is a membership service that allows its users to rent cars on an hourly basis. Members only pay for vehicles when they need to use them, as opposed to paying for them all the time. The costs of car ownership include it is in use (gas, maintenance, depreciation) and when it is parked (car payments, insurance, parking fees). Car sharing has been proven to significantly reduce vehicle ownership in areas that it is introduced. The logistics of most car sharing services are relatively simple. A user signs up with the service and obtains a membership card, which grants them access to any of the service’s vehicles. Vehicles are parked at specific locations, typically in off-street parking lots in locations that are well served by transit or pedestrian facilities. When the member wants to rent a car, he/she goes to the website and reserves the car for the time that they desire. Once they have a reservation, the user goes to the parking spot where the car is located and begins using the car. After the reservation has been completed, the user brings the car back to designated parking spot. Car sharing hourly fees typically include gas and insurance, so the user does not have to worry about paying to fill up the gas tank or carrying their own insurance. Car sharing should be tremendously successful at Mercer University and would reduce the future traffic and parking demand of the University. This is especially important when considering the construction of new dormitories. Any new student housing would require a parking ratio of around 1 parking space for every 1 bed, based on the current observed parking demand of students. Providing parking at this ratio would most likely require new parking lots or even an expensive parking structure. Reducing the existing and future parking demand through car sharing will open up more of the


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existing parking spaces that are on-campus and reduce the amount of parking that future student housing will require. This would result in significant cost savings for the future Mercer developments and would allow the University to spend their money in a much more productive way than building more parking. Students that currently have a car on campus for occasional off-campus use would be most likely embrace the service initially. Marketing the car sharing service and its benefits will be an important part of implementation. The economic savings from car sharing, as opposed to owning a car, will resonate the loudest with the students (and their parents). The environmental benefits of reducing car usage should also be promoted. Car sharing has been proven to reduce the amount of traffic and CO2 emissions in communities.8 Embracing car sharing is a gigantic step for Mercer in creating a sustainable campus. In addition to the future savings in parking infrastructure, Mercer could also benefit from additional cost savings by replacing some University-owned vehicles with car sharing vehicles. Encouraging or even requiring employees to use car sharing vehicles would decrease the vehicle miles that University-owned vehicles are traveled and eventually reduce the number of vehicles owned by the University. The same cost savings that students would benefit from by using a car only when they need them could also be applied to Mercer’s operating expenses. ZipCar is North America’s largest car sharing company and has successfully partnered with numerous universities in the past few years. For new university/college markets, like Mercer, ZipCar establishes a monthly revenue that is necessary to break even. If they do not meet this monthly revenue, it is up to the University to make up the difference. The purpose of this cost structure is to both minimize risk on ZipCar’s behalf, but also to provide a financial incentive to the university to encourage and market car sharing.

8 PhillyCarShare study showed that members drove 42% less miles and reduced their auto emissions by 95%.

Top: Zipcar car; Bottom: Zipcar website.

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Mercer must encourage students and faculty to bike in the College Hill Corridor. A bicycling community will not prosper in the neighborhood without their support. Increasing the number of bicyclists will reduce the vehicular and parking demand of Mercer’s campus, create life on the streets, and portray a progressive image of both the University and the City of Macon to visitors.

3.16

Enhance the Parking Permit Program

Mercer currently has a parking permit program that designates where certain groups can park (Freshman, West Campus Residents, Faculty/Staff/Commuters, Visitors). Consideration should be given to charging drivers for these permits and using this money to improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities, enhancing bike sharing on campus, or supporting the Bikes for Cars program. Charging for the permits will encourage students/faculty/staff to bike/walk more and drive less.

3.17

Create a Parking Cashout/Carpool program

Providing financial incentives is a successful way to encourage people not to drive, which will reduce the parking demand. A parking cashout program rewards staff with money or something of value for not driving to campus. Similar incentives could be given to employees that carpool to work.

3.18

Real-time bus schedule information in Hamburg, Germany.

Enhance Transit

Transit ridership is low in the College Hill Corridor, even though a number of bus routes run through it on a daily basis. To increase ridership among the residents and students, improvements are necessary to improve passenger information, marketing of public transit, and efficiency. One of the challenges of riding the bus is that you don’t know precisely when the bus is going to arrive. Better information must be provided to inform riders when the next bus is coming. This will allow riders to plan their trips appropriately. Installing global bus positioning systems (GPS) on the buses and trolleys will make this information available to the public. It can be transmitted via LED message boards at the bus stops, or through a website or text message. This improvement will have a significant cost attached to it, but it also allows riders to know when the bus is coming and make the most of their time. The perception of public transit, especially among students, must be improved. MTA should work with Mercer and the College Hill Corridor to market MTA service to students. MTA buses should be used during freshman orientation week to transport

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

students Downtown and to other locations in Macon. MTA should also be a visible presence on campus during festivals and basketball games to market their services. Improving the efficiency of MTA service will result in shorter commute times for passengers and reduced operating costs for MTA. There is overlap among the existing transit service around Mercer. MTA routes 2, 3 and 9 all go in and around the campus and the NewTown shuttle travels between Mercer and Downtown Macon. Consolidating service with a hub and loop system would improve the transit efficiency in the area. Creating a transit hub in the area of Mercer and creating supplementary shuttle routes would allow the three MTA routes external to downtown to act as feeders to the hub and the downtown shuttles would capture the downtown/College Hill traffic. The shuttle bus service would have to run more frequently to minimize the wait time of passengers transferring from one of the MTA routes and improve the commute times for all passengers. A transfer station would also be necessary. Both shuttle buses would expand their hours to run at the same hours as MTA service. The inner loop would satisfy current MTA riders on Route 2 & 3, while the outer loop would pick up riders coming to downtown via Route 9. MTA, with assistance from Mercer and NewTown Macon, should operate this new consolidated service. The College Hill Corridor should take a leadership role in formation of this joint effort that would service the community transit needs, act to stimulate alternative forms of transportation for students, and connect the corridor with the larger community.


The Medical Center Network is an excellent opportunity to leverage both the central location of the medical facilities and the 5,500 employees that work in the area. Making connections between the Medical Center of Georgia, the Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, the Mercer School of Medicine and downtown Macon will benefit both the immediate area around the medical campus as well as the entire corridor. The health benefits of walkable communities are often times overlooked. Walking is an easy form of daily physical activity that can help prevent chronic health conditions. Doctors, nurses, and staff, should not only be encouraging patients to walk, but also lead by example. People can get out and walk at any time of day, assuming that there are walkable destinations and a good walking environment.

3.19 Encourage walking among employees/patients/visitors Figure 68. Potential long-range transit improvements

Improving pedestrian infrastructure does not ensure pedestrians will use it. It is necessary for institutions and leaders of the community to advocate and persuade people to walk. The Medical Center, the Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, the Mercer School of Medicine and downtown Macon should all partner to sponsor the “Walking for Good Health” program. This program will actively encourage walking to and from the Medical Center, Downtown Macon and Mercer University for employees, visitors, patients, and students. Funding may also be available from grants from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta as it falls under its Alliance for the Healthiest Nation (AHN) initiative. A suggested aspect of this initiative is the Zero Calorie Challenge, a program that would target employees. Employees will form walking/biking groups and these groups would compete to walk/bike the most miles, burn the most calories, achieve mileage milestones, etc. Providing incentives to the winners on a monthly basis would encourage more employees to participate in the program.

Top (left to right): bike share facilities in Washington, DC; bike share in Lyons, France; Bottom (left to right): real-time transit information in Queensland, Australia; bus shelter in Ljubljana, Croatia.

The Medical Center, the College Hill Corridor, and the Chamber of Commerce should also be encouraging patients and visitors to walk around the area and experience Macon. Pedometers should be available for free to all patients so that they can keep track of their walking statistics. Signs in the hospital (sponsored by downtown restaurants and shops) could read “It’s Only 2 Blocks to Downtown Macon - That’s 1,000 feet, 500 steps and 200 calories burned. Let the pedometer do the counting for you”, or “Walk hard and fast to H & H….You will need to burn off those Peach Cobbler calories.” Maps of downtown walking routes should be available to patients for their convenience and guidance.

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precedents:

3.20 Reduce parking demand

walk it off

There is a lot of parking in the area of the Medical Center, almost 4,500 parking spaces in the various parking structures and off-street lots. The existing parking demand falls well below this supply.9 If managed correctly, the current parking supply will accommodate the parking demand in the area for years to come. The requirements and the perception for new parking will arise as the campus expands even if the actual parking demand does not necessitate additional parking supply. The Medical Center must be cognizant of this and include parking management strategies that are dynamic and flexible as part of its long-term planning. It should also institute TDM strategies to reduce the existing and future parking demand that it generates. A parking cash out/carpool program would require the Medical Center pay employees not to drive.

BC Walks, a wellness initiative in Broome County, New York, is part of a CDC-funded Steps Program to implement chronic disease prevention and health promotion activities. The program features tours and a guide to walking trails around the county.

www.bcwalks.com

As the leader in promoting health and community well being, the Medical Center and the College Hill Corridor should promote bike riding, both for commuting and as a form of patient rehabilitation. Bike racks should be installed around the hospital. The Hospital should also provide a mini-bike sharing service for patients/visitors/staff for exercise, recreation, or shopping. The Medical Center should make a staff person responsible for both monitoring the parking demand and implementing TDM strategies. These duties could be added to an existing employee or it may be necessary to create a new staff position.

3.21 Improve transit around Hospital

Shelters at bus and shuttle stops need protection from the elements to increase ridership. According to the MTA, advertised shelters cost about $2,000 to install and the yearly maintenance is paid for by advertising dollars. MCCG should work to install new shelters at stops where they do not exist today. The interior of the hospital should include information regarding bus options and real time bus arrival information. Potential streetscape elements

9 According to the Medical Center, there is an average vacancy rate of 23% in the parking garages.

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Figure 69. Medical Network

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Make Youthful Connections

Kids like to be outside. Making it safe for children to walk and bike in the neighborhood will create a generation of Macon residents that grow up with sustainable transportation options. As more families move into the area, it is important that there are walkable and bikeable connections for children, both at schools and popular children destinations like parks and the museums.

3.22 Improve sidewalks and crosswalks around schools, parks, and museums

Making it safe and convenient for children to walk will encourage more parents to allow them to do so. Improving the conditions of the sidewalks and crosswalks in the area of the schools and make the crosswalks in the area of the youth destinations is the most efficient way to accomplish this. Making sidewalks wider, providing more landscaping, improving the lighting, creating unique crosswalks that stand out will all encourage youthful pedestrian activity and get drivers to slow down in the presence of children.

3.23 Encourage kids/parents to walk to school

College Street near Alexander II Magnet School.

Fifty years ago, almost all students walked to school. Now, most students get dropped off and picked up at school by their parents. College Hill Corridor Commission should work with Alexander II, St. Joseph’s, and Mount De Sales, to support more kids walking. Infrastructure is one way to accomplish this, but incentive programs are another way to encourage children to walk. Programs that give incentives, whether they be an iTunes gift card or Get Out of Homework pass, will get kids excited about walking and want to do it. Local retailers could also partner in the program, similar to Pizza Hut’s Book IT! program that encourages children to read more.

3.24 Increase bike parking at schools

If kids bike to school, they are going to need a place to park their bikes. Bike parking should be provided at all of the schools in the neighborhood in the future. It should be increased as the demand for bike parking increases.

3.25 Leverage Safe Routes to School funding

Safe Routes to School is a federally funded program that is administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The budget for the program is $17.2 million during the current fiscal year (2005-2009). Both infrastructure and advocacy projects are eligible for funding as long they will improve the pedestrian safety and operations around the area of a school. The City of Macon has requested this funding in the past and should continue to be aggressive with its proposals. The local schools should work with the City on ideas for both improving the infrastructure and creating advocacy programs.

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Figure 70. Learning Network

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Existing sidewalk on Washington Avenue next to St. Joseph's School.

Figure 71. Washington between Orange and High — existing crosssection

Figure 72. Washington between Orange and High — proposed crosssection

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Figure 73. Rendering of proposed Washington Avenue improvements.

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Keep the Connections Going

It is important not only to focus on connecting Mercer with Downtown, but also connect with the neighborhoods adjacent to College Hill. Residents that live to the west, south, and north should be encouraged to walk or bike to College Street and utilize all of its wonderful assets. Creating a sustainable transportation system in Macon should start in the College Hill Corridor but the ideas should be applied in every part of the City.

3.26 Improve the connection to the Hilton Garden Inn

The Hilton Garden Inn is located on the south side of the campus and has expressed a desire to be more connected to the amenities of Mercer and Macon. Guests of the hotel should be able to go to Mercer Village, Washington Park or a Downtown restaurant without getting in their car. The pedestrian connection between the hotel and Mercer Village can be significantly improved with a better sidewalk along Stadium Drive/Winship Street/Johnson Avenue. Hilton Garden should work with the Bear Bikes program to expand the bike sharing program to guests of the hotel. One of the transit enhancements is to expand the trolley service to the hotel.

3.27 Continue bicycle connection to the West

There is an excellent opportunity to continue the on-street bike lane to the west on Montpelier. It has sufficient width (36-40 feet) to provide a separated bike lane and one travel lane in each direction. This bike lane could be the catalyst to expanding the transportation options in the neighborhoods to the west.

3.28 Plan for a connection to Tindall Heights

There have been previous plans for a pedestrian connection to the south, but they have never been implemented. This connection is important to reconnect the neighborhoods on the southern part of this corridor. A safe and efficient link to and from Tindall Heights could be made along the railroad right of way. Creating a trail here would encourage more pedestrian and bicycling activity as well as improve the connection between the neighborhoods. In addition, Mercer should consider striping College Street through campus for new bike lanes to further encourage connectivity between neighborhoods.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

3.29 Integrate pedestrian/bicycling accommodations on the South Downtown Connector The South Downtown Connector is a proposed roadway that would connect Little Richard Penniman Boulevard to downtown. Numerous alternatives have been proposed for this roadway. As the design process moves further along, bicycling and pedestrian connections should be included in any plan. These include bike lanes, wide sidewalks, good pedestrian lighting, and safe intersection crossings. If other roads or bridges are vacated as part of this project, it would be an excellent idea to convert these into pedestrian and bicyclist facilities.

Intersection Improvements

3.30 Install roundabouts at key intersections

A roundabout is an intersection treatment that allows traffic to flow continuously in a circular direction. Roundabouts slow traffic down and can also be used as an aesthetic feature. Recommended Locations: Montpelier Street at Johnson Avenue and at Linden Avenue, Forsyth Street at Spring Street/Pine Street

3.31 Integrate Left-Turn Channelization

Left-turn lanes reduce the risk of rear end accidents at intersections. Providing a separate lane for left-turning vehicles eliminates the possibility of through traffic not expecting cars to be stopped in the intersection. There are a few locations in the College Hill Corridor that are wide enough to provide left-turn lanes, but currently do not. They should. Recommended Locations: College Street at Oglethorpe Street, at Washington Street, at Georgia Avenue, Washington Street at College Street, Georgia Avenue at College Street


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3.32 Install Bumpouts and Change Curb Radii

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A number of the intersections in the study area have crosswalks that are much longer than they need to be. Reducing the curb radius at the intersection or providing bumpouts, which are sidewalks that extend into the street where parking is, are the two most common ways of reducing pedestrian crossing distances. Recommended Locations: College Street at Forsyth Street, Washington Street, Georgia Avenue, Forsyth Street at Daisy Park, at Spring Street/Pine Street, at New Street/Plum Street, Washington Street at High Place, Magnolia Street at College Street

3.33 Make Traffic Signal Modifications

Improvements are necessary at a number of the traffic signals to improve the safety and efficiency of both vehicles and pedestrians. A separate, “protected� signal phase should be given to left-turn vehicles at all intersections that have a left-turn lane. This reduces the amount of possible conflicts between vehicles turning left and vehicles traveling through the intersection in the opposite direction. Most of the signalized intersections in the study area have separate pedestrian signal heads, most must be activated by a pedestrian pushing a button, some do not work when pushed, and none of them inform the pedestrian how much time they have to cross the intersection. Countdown signals tell pedestrians when it is safe to walk and how much seconds they have to cross the intersection. Recommended Locations: All signalized intersections

3.34 Remove Georgia Department of Transportation Jurisdiction

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has jurisdiction of Forsyth Street, west of College Street, College Street, between Forsyth Street and Georgia Street, and Georgia Street, east of College Street. Any changes to these portions of the corridor must receive their approval. It may be initially difficult to convince GDOT of the merits of reducing lane widths/removing lanes in order to improve the area for bicyclists and pedestrians. The City of Macon should explore transferring jurisdiction of these roads from GDOT to the City and re-route State Routes 41 and 19 on Interstate 75 and Interstate 16.

Top to bottom: Cotton Avenue bumpout; bumpout at College Street and Coleman Avenue; pedestrian countdown signal.

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Forsyth Street at Spring Street and Pine Street

College Street at Washington Avenue

Figure 74. Forsyth / Spring / Pine intersection improvements.

Figure 75. College / Washington intersection improvements.

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Forsyth Street at High Street and New Street

Figure 76. College / Georgia intersection improvements.

Figure 77. Forsyth / High / New intersection improvements.

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College Street at Georgia Avenue

Top: Existing intersection; Middle: Proposed improvements with curb bumpouts and smaller curb radii; Bottom: the resulting new sidewalks and green space.

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4

The Environment: A City within a Park

Goals:

Re-plant, re-seed and flourish. Macon was designed as a “City within a Park.” Street trees and parks were early additions to the College Hill Corridor and exemplified Macon’s commitment to the environment. The analysis indicated, however, that over time the lush landscape that once defined the area has been lost. This is not to say that remnants of this park-like feel do not exist. Washington Park, Rose Hill Cemetery and Coleman Park are inspirations locally and nationally. But much can and should be done to strategically improve and connect open spaces to support the pioneering investments made by residents who have lovingly restored their homes.

College Street

yesterday

Re-plant the public realm

When College Street was first developed, the local ordinance required the planting of street shade trees. Today, only 7% of streets are covered by shade trees, far below the usual rule-of-thumb target of 30%. New street trees, however, should be recognized as only one component of a larger landscape. The following recommendations are about re-planting trees and integrating new landscaping features that softens the streetscape and provides additional environmental benefits.

Figure 78. College Street: Yesterday — Today — Tomorrow

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4.1

Fill the gaps in the urban forest

Trees frame streets and views, and their presence has been proven to increase residential property values, reduce summer cooling bills, and reduce stormwater runoff. They help to combat ozone and air pollution, bringing a decrease in associated lung and heart problems as well. Their presence reduces individual stress and, in urban communities, has been associated with reduced violence and increased positive social interaction. Trees are affordable, and tree planting is an achievable strategy that yields immediate results, and yet, trees - particularly street trees - are in short supply in the College Hill Corridor. The proposed tree planting strategy for the Corridor calls for a two-pronged approach, with one public works tree planting campaign along major corridors supported by a College Hill Corridor arborist to encourage community-based tree plantings on residential blocks. Initial tree plantings should be targeted for College Street to bring back the historic shade trees so evident in old photos. In addition, the first phase plantings should seek to extend this improvement into surrounding neighborhoods including: • In Beall’s Hill along Oglethorpe toward downtown; • In Huegenin Heights along Adams to connect Tattnall Square with the dog park; and • In Pleasant Hill along Madison Street. A second phase should target Forsyth Street, Columbia Street from the Bear’s Den to the Medical Center, and around the Medical Center. Each planting campaign should adopt a successional approach that introduces different tree species and different aged trees into the landscape. This diversified planting strategy provides a sustainable urban forest that is better able to weather climate fluctuations and diseases, and less likely to be wiped out by one change in the environment. The role of the College Hill Corridor arborist is to promote and educate the values and techniques of tree planting and maintenance to local neighbors. Tree planting and maintenance classes, regular surveying of the tree canopy, and coordinating permitting and installation will be the main roles of the arborist.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

4.2

Develop a locally enforced tree ordinance

The City has a tree ordinance but it applies only to publicly owned property. The concern with more stringent tree ordinances is that new development will be discouraged due to onerous requirements. What many small cities have found, however, is that developers are often willing to invest in trees as they increase the value of the property and help to protect their investment. The City should consider developing and passing a progressive, stringent and enforceable tree ordinance to support the long-term health of the urban forest. The ordinance should include standards for new trees, requirement for new development and protections against tree removal. Excellent examples exist for City Council to review including tree ordinances in the City of Decatur and Columbus.


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Figure 79. Tree Planting

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Examples of living walls

4.3

Upgrade retention walls as living walls

The topography and landscape of the College Hill Corridor has necessitated a large number of retaining walls to enable the development of sidewalks, housing and parks. Some of these walls are ornamental and brick which adds value to the streetscape. Others are bland or worse, detrimental to the streetscape that residents have hoped for. The existing walls and fragments of former retaining walls are elements unique to the College Hill Corridor that, if improved, would transform an everyday element into a point of pride for the community. Select retaining walls should be transformed into “living walls,” that add greenery to the streetscape while providing a natural means to manage stormwater that often overburdens sewers during rains. Ivy, grasses and other materials can be introduced along walls and encouraged to cover the surface. The introduction of natural materials would be coupled with the creation of an infiltration filter which is essentially a large planter box designed to capture and hold water located at the base of the wall. The Commission should help promote the idea by working with a landscape architect to design and coordinate the installation along two visible walls in the area.

Why stormwater management matters.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

4.4

Integrate stormwater management into the streetscape

In heavy rains, stormwater runoff from rooftops, streets, parking lots and any other nonporous surfaces can overwhelm the city’s sewer system, resulting in flooded streets and basements. Additionally, the runoff picks up contaminants, such as trash from streets and motor oil from gas stations, and dumps them into the waterways, contributing to a major portion of the water pollution that occurs in the city. Stormwater management design strategies minimize the proportion of precipitation that is converted to polluted surface runoff by maximizing the water volume that evaporates and infiltrates into the ground. This helps protect the quality of Macon’s water resources. Stormwater management requires both sensitive site design and the introduction of various tools including:

Rain gardens – A rain garden is a planted depression that captures excess stormwater,

stores it and allows it to sink back into the ground and be absorbed by trees, shrubs, and other plants. Permeable pavements – Permeable asphalt, concrete, or paving blocks allow runoff to infiltrate into the underlying soil. Tree box filters – Located below grade, tree box filters provide “bioretention in a box” along road curbs.

These practices are increasingly used in urban environments to help improve the quality of stormwater runoff (which ultimately flows into local rivers and streams), reduce the pressure on the sewer system, and help recharge groundwater resources.


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Left to right: two examples of sidewalk rain gardens; a tree box filter.

In College Hill, rain gardens and swales can be added as planter boxes to capture roof runoff, within roadway medians, parkways, and landscaped curb bumpouts designed to calm traffic. The Commission should work closely with the City to introduce new stormwater management practices within the area, targeting major intersections such as Forsyth/College and Georgia/College and within Tattnall Square as a part of a park improvement program. This plan identifies a specific opportunity to create a large rain garden along Forsyth Street west of College Street complete with new cherry trees to form a memorable gateway to the area. Specific plans for this rain garden are described further in Recommendation 5.10. In addition, the Commission should consider funding pilot projects to generate additional interest from local property owners and institutional uses. As a part of the Hilton hotel brand, the hotel must work with a local school to create a new garden. This would be an opportunity to create a pilot rain garden project with students on a site in either the Cherokee Heights neighborhood to the west or perhaps at the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood. To involve College Hill’s residential constituency and the City at large, the Commission should organize a rain garden tour that showcases such innovative practices and provides information about implementing stormwater management techniques at a variety of scales. Forsyth Street represents an opportunity to create a new raingarden and enhance the gateway to College Hill, downtown and the City.

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Strategically improve park space

The College Hill Corridor contains a number of parks that are beautiful, manicured amenities to nearby homes. But there are also opportunities to strategically improve and upgrade park space to ensure that open space serves the full range of needs for local residents, students and visitors. The following recommendations identify specific improvements for existing parks as well as ideas to create new or expanded park space within the Corridor.

4.5

Improve Tattnall Square as a centerpiece of College Hill

Tattnall Square has long been a source of pride and frustration for residents and students alike. The Square, created in 1850, was meant to serve as a formal park and an oasis from the City. Over the years, many changes, some incremental and others drastic, have irrevocably transformed the Square from its original design and instilled a new set of expectations for how it can and should be programmed. The result is a unique and urban park that is both pastoral and active.

The many faces of Tattnall Square

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Strong opinions are often voiced from the community about how the park should be improved. This is a testament to the Square’s important role as civic space and as a symbol for the surrounding community. Unfortunately, many of these strong opinions are often competing. There is good reason for this as the park is the result of a kind of tug-of-war, shaped by the very different land uses lining each edge including: housing along Adams; Mercer University along Coleman; institutions and heavier traffic along College; and a mixture of offices along Oglethorpe. Each side of the Square responds to this context in different ways with the more pastoral side adjacent to Huegenin Heights, active uses along College Street, an un-programmed but often used grass field across from Mercer and largely undefined and unused space along Oglethorpe consisting of parking lots.


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Figure 80. Different land use exert a pull on Tattnall Square Park

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Figure 81. Tattnall Square Park Program

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Figure 82. Tattnall Square Park Paths and Concept

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The design approach is to recognize and intensify the best of what the Square has to offer. The main emphasis is on redesigning the edges of Tattnall Square to create a stronger interface with surrounding streets and neighborhoods while better defining both the passive and active uses. To accomplish these goals, a number of design changes are warranted.

Enhance the path system

What was once a clear path system has been slowly fragmented due to the removal of paths and the addition of new uses. To ensure connectivity through the park, an improved path system should be created that includes new sidewalks along the Square’s edges. A hierarchy of paths should be created that allows for larger, multi-use paths and smaller, intimate paths. Specifically, the Commission should: • Expand and improve the diagonal path from the corner of Adams and Coleman to the corner of College and Oglethorpe. Inspired by what was once a direct connection through the park, this diagonal should be designed to encourage strolling and bicycling to provide a link between the proposed bicycle network along the adjacent streets. This path will serve as the primary division between the pastoral and active. • Create new sidewalks along Oglethorpe Streets. Envisioned as an extension of the pastoral edge of the park, a sidewalk along this streets should be designed to weave in and out of the landscape and reflect the intimate feeling the Square already exhibits. • Re-create the path extending from the Square’s center east to College Street. The development of the tennis courts severed this path. A right-of-way exists but fenced and locked to provide security for the tennis courts. Mercer and the Commission should work with the managers of the tennis courts to develop alternative security arrangements such that this right-of-way can be opened and re-established as a public path. • Create a smaller network of paths to connect key uses to the larger path system. With the creation of a new sidewalk along College and new paths along Adams and Oglethorpe, secondary paths should be designed to link these them to nearby park facilities like the playground or parking. The conceptual site plan shows a number of potential paths that serve this purpose.

Create a new plaza at College and Oglethorpe

Although one of the main gateways to Tattnall Square the current configuration of this corner is poorly designed and poorly used. With a proposed expansion of the natural landscape, this corner is an opportunity to weave all of the park’s main elements together

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 83. Existing Tattnall Square

and welcome residents and visitors to a renewed Tattnall Square. For this reason, a formal plaza should be created that includes new trees and landscaping, benches, lighting, welcoming signage and public art.


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Woodland glade / meadow Improved pathways Re-designed parking New entry plaza Rain garden buffer

Sidewalks

Figure 84. Proposed Tattnall Square site plan

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Redesign the parking

The two parking lots are greatly underutilized except during large tennis tournaments. Parents of Alexander II use the parking lot closer to College Street to pick up their children but many other times, the lots are deadening an important location of the Square close to College and Oglethorpe – main gateway. The two parking lots should be removed and replaced with one parking lot that stretches along Oglethorpe. This new parking lot would take up less space in the Square, allow easy access from Oglethorpe and include an attractive landscape buffer planted with trees along the street. This action will provide 60 parking spaces but free up more than an acre of land for new landscaping. This concept was first presented as a part of the Beall’s Hill Charrette in 2002.

Extend the natural areas of the park

The large trees and natural landscape treasured by many is concentrated along Adams Street. The removal of the large, underutilized parking lots described above enables the opportunity to expand this natural landscape along the northern edge of Tattnall Square. New meadows should be created that enhance the existing tree canopy and the biodiversity of the Square while providing more natural areas to treasure. The extension of the meadow almost to the corner of College and Oglethorpe will provide a unique moment where the active and natural come together at one of the major entrances to Tattnall Square.

Selectively prune trees

While an extension of Tattnall’s more natural side is warranted, some selective pruning and tree removal should also be explored to open up views through the Square but also to protect the health of the existing trees, some of which were planted too close together. A tree survey and evaluation should be undertaken to determine a specific approach to protect the health and long-term viability of existing trees.

Encourage the continued use of Tattnall for outdoor movies and neighborhood events

The Commission has made outdoor movies a regular event in Tattnall Square in what is sometimes called the “bowl.” This is where there is a natural drop in elevation that simulates an outdoor amphitheater feeling. The continual programming of temporary events is extremely important to activate the Square. The Commission should consider improving the bowl as both a natural setting and as a space for temporary events. Bands of historic stone could be introduced to embellish the natural dip in the landscape but also be used for seating during events.

Improve the recreation uses

Currently the tennis courts and the playground are the only formal, active uses in Tattnall Square. To diversify the range of activities offered in the Square, the following should be considered: • Create new basketball courts next to the tennis courts across from Alexander II; • Formalize the soccer field in front of Mercer by designing natural edges to buffer it from surrounding areas of the park; • Work with the managers of the tennis courts to replace the court gate covers to something more attractive most critically on the side facing College Street; • Design and implement new rain gardens all along the western edge of the tennis courts to provide an environmentally progressive method to manage stormwater in the park and to soften and buffer these active uses from the natural / pastoral portion of the Square.

Improve the street curbs

In some cases, the curbs along the street are so worn down that it is quite easy to drive into the Square which is precisely what happens all too often. New curbs at a proper height combined with better (and decorative) fencing where cars typically enter the park illegally would create the opportunity to remove the unattractive and uninviting gatepost along Adams Street.

Prune trees for improved tree health and visibility in the Park.

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"Remember those ugly old parking lots? They have been taken up and replaced with beautiful native trees, especially oaks. Sidewalks now line every side of the park." Figure 85. Rendering of Tattnall Square improvements at College Street and Oglethorpe Street Bottom: Existing intersection.

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171 Create sidewalks along College Street in concert with street improvements

Due to changes in the landscape where the Square is as much as 6’ above College Street, adding sidewalks should be closely coordinated with the streetscape improvements recommended for College Street on this block. The current width of College Street in this location is 44 feet and serves two lanes of travel in the southbound direction and one travel lane and one parking lane in the northbound direction. The overwhelming majority of the southbound traffic uses the right-turn only lane leaving the thru-lane largely unused. The right-turn only lane should be consolidated with the existing thru-lane which enables the ability to create a new dedicated bike lane, planting strip for trees and lighting, a sidewalk and new landscaping. These actions create a shaded and welcoming path for strolling and a completely new look for the edge of the Square to encourage Mercer students and faculty off campus. Parking peaks before the Alexander II School dismisses when parents park and wait for their child to exit the school. To account for the parking demands of the school as well as the needs of future bicyclists, the northbound side of College Street should be designed to accommodate one travel lane (as it currently exists) and one shared bicycle / parking lane. This solution gives bicyclists a dedicated bicycle lane for most of the day but still allows parents to park and pick up their students after school.

Figure 88. Tattnall Square Park at College Street and Coleman Avenue This page: Existing intersection; Opposite page: Proposed improvements with sidewalk, rain garden, bike lane, new plantings and streetlights.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 86. College between Coleman and Oglethorpe — existing cross-section

Figure 87. College between Coleman and Oglethorpe — proposed cross-section


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4.6

Re-design Daisy Park

Of the three small, triangular wedges of open space near Orange Street, Daisy Park is the only one that offers active uses. Located along Forsyth Street – one of Macon’s main entrance ways to downtown, Daisy Park is also highly visible and an important site within the College Hill Corridor. Unfortunately, Daisy Park is a missed opportunity and easily overlooked. The basketball courts are in poor shape and the existing landscaping is noticeably worse than those found in the nearby Water Tower Park. A re-design of Daisy Park could become a significant amenity and symbol of a revived downtown and College Hill Corridor. The approach includes a number of design strategies.

Retain basketball as a use but reduce the number of courts to one. Daisy Park's two basketball courts effectively acts as one large court due to missing backboards. Improvements are warranted to both the court and the remainder of the park.

The missing backboards have already negated the use of both courts to their fullest extent relegating them to two, very large half-courts. The court closest to Orange Street should be retained and improved.

Replace the other court with an “adventure playground”

Adventure playgrounds encourage interactive play for children of all ages. They typically include landscape features and equipment that is moveable and climbable to encourage learning. An adventure playground in this location serves a number of purposes: • A new playground recognizes that there is a growing number of families with young children in the surrounding neighborhoods and encourages them to continue to make College Hill their home. • The playground’s location adjacent to the Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House provide an additional amenity to children and families that are using these facilities. • As a visible space along Forsyth Street, the playground could also serve families throughout the region offering an additional kid-friendly destination that reinforces amenities like the Georgia Children’s Museum. Both the playground and the improved basketball court should be designed to include an attractive landscaped edge along Forsyth to buffer these uses from the traffic along Forsyth. With basketball, a playground and passive park space, Daisy Park can be transformed into an open space for all ages.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 89. Existing Daisy Park

Figure 90. Proposed Daisy Park site plan


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Create more landscaped, passive park space

Currently, Daisy Park has some landscaping along Daisy Street and Orange Street. There is an opportunity to create a real amenity, lush with native plantings, that picks up on the standard set by Water Tower Park. The site plan shows the closure of the asphalt section of Orange Street only between Forsyth Street and Daisy Street. This move will improve safety at the Forsyth and Orange Street intersection and provide an opportunity to create a larger, passive park for plantings. Where there was once two small triangles divided by Orange Street, there is now one. Less asphalt, more park space and an improved amenity for nearby residents.

Change the direction of Daisy Street

Daisy Street is currently one-way westbound from Forsyth to Orange. Due to Daisy Street’s orientation with Forsyth, a wide opening was created to allow cars the ability to easily turn onto Daisy from Forsyth. The crosswalk at the intersection of Forsyth Street and Daisy Street is 93 feet, one of the longest pedestrian crossings in the corridor. This is way too long for a crosswalk of a minor street that has a 24 foot width. It should be re-aligned with Forsyth to create an intersecting angle closer to 90 degrees. This change and reversing the flow of traffic on Daisy Street to be one-way from Orange to Forsyth, the intersection with Forsyth can be re-designed to narrow the crosswalk and improve pedestrian safety.

4.7

Create a new entry plaza to the churches

The concentration of religious institutions on Poplar Street near High Place is one of Macon’s most unique locations. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and First Baptist Church of Christ are significant as architectural monuments and reinforce the moniker “a city of steeples.” Unfortunately, the forecourt in front of both churches is largely asphalt. These institutions deserve a setting more befitting their history and prominence in the City. Asphalt should be reclaimed from Poplar Street and replaced with a landscaped forecourt to both churches. The forecourt should be designed to include new brick pavers, decorative crosswalks, lighting, landscaping and interpretive signage. The brick treatment that exists on High Place should be extended to Poplar Street as a part of the improvements. These actions would not alter existing traffic patterns and would only reduce the on-street parking in the area by a few spaces.

Consider redeveloping the Medical Center visitor parking lot

Just east of Daisy Park is a large, surface parking lot used by the Medical Center. Redevelopment of the lot should be encouraged. A mix of new retail, office and potentially housing would reinforce investment in the park, provide opportunities to support the Medical Center’s space needs, and fill a major gap along Forsyth that inhibits pedestrian and bicycle connections to downtown. The site is large enough to include either surface parking or a small garage behind the development facing Forsyth. The parking spaces “lost” by the redevelopment of this site can be re-located to other parking lots in the area of the Medical Center or with the future redevelopment of the site. Parking should not be considered a constraint when weighing the costs/benefits of redeveloping this site. The intended result of these recommendations is a park that offers more landscaping and passive space, improved recreation and a new amenity that serves the growing number of local families and visitors alike. While this plan includes a conceptual site plan for the park design, the Commission should consider reaching out to the University of Georgia’s Landscape Architecture program or Georgia Tech’s Architecture program to recruit a studio of students to develop alternative site designs. The intent is to utilize the creativity of students to spark additional discussion in the community and further market the concept to potential funders.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 91. St. Joseph's Catholic Church and First Baptist Church of Christ at Poplar Street This page (above): proposed church plazas; (right): existing street; Opposite page: Proposed improvements with a plaza and forecourt.


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4.8

Create a new City Hall civic plaza

Rosa Parks Square is nestled between City Hall and the Auditorium and caps Cotton Avenue, one of downtown’s most attractive streets. The location is ideal and the instinct to create a formal plaza as an amenity and entrance to downtown was an excellent civic gesture. However, the plaza’s potential is held back primarily by the presence of two separate parking lots that are associated with the adjacent medical services building. As documented in the 2001 Urban Design Plan and Economic Development Strategy, these parking lots should be acquired and the entire plaza re-designed as a primary gathering spot for downtown. In exchange, new parking could be created to serve the medical services building by consolidating existing parking lots on the same block or building a new parking garage that would serve multiple purposes. A parking study for downtown that includes the potential demand of a new parking garage should be completed to identify a suitable strategy.

Create an urban trail system

The primary users of trail systems are typically college-age students and the elderly of which College Hill has both. Residents and students have indicated that many use the Ocmulgee River Trail but drive to it. Some even run or bike along the streets and utilize spaces like the Rose Hill Cemetery for recreation. This activity should be encouraged and expanded. The following recommendations are about creating an interconnected network of green amenities, one that encourages walking, running, and bicycling while forging new active connections between local neighborhoods.

4.9

Add trail amenities to key streets

The trail network is designed to reinforce and build from the bicycling and pedestrian improvements discussed in the transportation section of this report. For this reason, College Street forms the backbone of the network with extensions along Georgia and Mulberry, Walnut, Oglethorpe, Coleman and Montpelier. All of the trail routes should be designed to accommodate trail signage, mile markers from key landmarks and potentially pocket parks containing outdoor trail exercise equipment where possible.

4.10 Make Riverside Drive more pedestrian friendly

Figure 92. Proposed expansion of Rosa Parks Square

Riverside Drive is a huge obstacle for pedestrians and bicyclists that want to access the Riverside Cemetery, Rose Hill Cemetery, and the Ocmulgee Trail. It is a heavily traversed arterial roadway with a lack of any pedestrian or bicycling amenities. There is a significant amount of pedestrian and bicycling activity at the Ocmulgee Trail and Riverside Cemetery wants to become a recreational destination in Macon, but it is very difficult and unsafe to walk or ride a bike to get there. A corridor wide plan is necessary to analyze the long term future of Riverside Drive, both from a land use and transportation standpoint. In the short-term, an additional pedestrian crossing should be considered at Riverside Cemetery’s entrance and improvements should be made to the crosswalks and pedestrian signals at the intersections of Riverside Drive/College Street and Riverside Drive/ Spring Street.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Potential trail elements


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Figure 93. Urban Trail Network

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4.11 Make it safer to cross the Ocmulgee River

In order to access the Ocmulgee Trail, a person has to cross the Ocmulgee River. The easiest and safest way to access to accomplish this is to drive to the parking lot on Spring Street. If someone wants to walk or bike to the park, they must cross the Spring Street bridge, which is a harrowing experience. The bridge is six lanes wide, carries a significant amount of cars and trucks, and there is no separation between the travel lanes and the sidewalk. There is no easy solution to make this crossing safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. The lanes on the Spring Street bridge could be narrowed to provide a little more space for pedestrians with a separation from car traffic. Signage should be provided on the bridge to advise bicyclists to walk their bike across the bridge. In the longterm, a separated crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists should be analyzed. This additional crossing would provide a strong connection between the Ocmulgee Trail and Downtown Macon.

Figure 95. Spring Street Bridge — proposed cross-section: alternative 1 Proposed improvements with widened sidewalks and pedestrian barriers.

Figure 94. Spring Street Bridge — existing cross-section

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 96. Spring Street Bridge — proposed cross-section: alternative 2 Proposed improvements with widened sidewalks and higher pedestrian/bike barriers.


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4.12 Improve the Dog Park

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The dog park has become a popular destination in its limited time being open, but it is a bit difficult to find, especially with visitors that are not familiar with the area. Signage should be placed at the intersections of College Street/Oglethorpe Street, Coleman Avenue/Adams Street, and Adams Street/Oglethorpe Street directing people to the Dog Park. Sidewalks around the park should also be widened to encourage more pedestrian activity.

4.13 Link to the Booker T. Washington Community Center

The Booker T. Washington Center has been the subject of a lot of debate in the past year. For administrative reasons, the center was forced to close and with it the programs that served the Pleasant Hill residents. Seemingly isolated, a new recreation trail should be designed to link the Recreation Center to nearby communities and major assets. As a part of a larger system proposed here, this linkage would help to make the Recreation Center an important stop along an expansive network.

4.14 Add pedestrian amenities to Rose Park

Rose Park could be utilized as a respite for both patients and employees during the day. Its trees and views lend itself to new bench seating and even placement of sidewalks for access. Due to topographic constraints, new sidewalks should be placed on “excess� street space to minimize impact on the park while activating the edge to encourage more use by Medical Center employees, patients and local residents.

"There should be a lot more bikes on the road and the bikes should really have the right-a-way"

Tyler's Place Macon Dog Park ; Booker T. Washington Community Center; Rose Park

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Left to right: Tattnall Place; examples of green infrastructure; Cool Space Locator website.

5

The Look: Macon’s Urban and Historic Center

Goals:

Fill the gaps in the urban fabric and infuse the corridor with a greater range of uses and activity while protecting the character of historic and established neighborhoods. Encompassing Mercer University, the Medical Center and downtown, College Hill is already the nexus of Macon’s major urban amenities and institutions. Or more succinctly, in the words of local residents, “the historic area makes the identity of Macon,” while at the same time

“what makes you unique is what you find downtown.”

To match the physical experience of the Corridor with the ideal of a diverse and historic in-town community, strategic investment in housing and, where appropriate, commercial services is required to serve the needs of existing and future residents and fill the gaps in the neighborhood fabric.

Encourage a sustainable community

Sustainable communities, sometimes called green communities, are often misunderstood. While a central tenet is to protect the environment by reducing waste, improving water and air quality and reducing carbon emissions, a sustainable community must also address social and economic factors. The College Hill Corridor has the foundation to become a model green community. To do so, new development needs to be built to the highest green standards, housing should be available to families of all income levels and new commercial services are needed to capture the money that is typically lost to the suburbs due to the lack of retail and related services.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

5.1

Market small spaces to small businesses

The Commission should work with NewTown Macon to form a central clearinghouse to catalog and market vacant space within its borders to prospective tenants. This database should be kept online to allow the widest access possible and assist building owners in recruiting businesses to the neighborhood. There are two keys to making this effort successful: The database must be maintained and updated on a monthly basis to keep the information as current as possible. This should be a regular job function for a member of the Commission staff. This type of information needs to be kept as up to date for both tenants and building owners or it does not hold as much value. The website should clearly label the last time it was updated so that it can be used with confidence that its contents reflect reality. Information to be collected from property owners and displayed on the website includes: contact information, square footage, zoning designation, floor plans, prices, and pictures of the property both inside and out. This database should be marketed through the appropriate channels, such as the local Chamber of Commerce, the Commission and NewTown Macon websites, real estate firms, business organizations, and any small business assistance groups so that it is being used by as many people as possible. The Downtown Boulder BID markets available office and retail space in such a way. Visit Pittsburgh’s www.coolspacelocator.com to see another example.


Recruit to fill retail niches

Building a retail base in College Hill and downtown faces many challenges. Besides the lack of a retail concentration or significant confidence in the downtown retail market, new businesses must also compete with any number of big box and chain stores that surround the area only a short drive away. New retail space at Mercer Village will help to build confidence and establish a concentration of stores that new retailers can visibly see as proof that there is a healthy downtown market. The Commission should actively market to existing retailers in the region the advantages of locating downtown and near Mercer. Preliminary figures estimate that the economic impact of just Mercer students is $15,000,000 for local businesses. While some of this impact will always flow to larger shopping centers on the outskirts of the City, even a small percentage of these dollars captured locally would support a number of retail opportunities. The Commission should follow a plan of recruiting local businesses that fit with its ideals of a healthy retail environment. The economic overview completed for this plan indicates that current student needs are not met locally and that the retail sectors that are expanding like restaurants are also not fitting the range of stores that students use. The largest retail gaps in the Corridor include sporting goods, music stores, book stores, and a grocery. Other stores including a bowling alley, clothing stores, 24-hour diner, brunch restaurants and a bike shop to support the bicycle recommendations in this plan are also excellent opportunities that are not available locally. While these commercial uses are the ideal fit, any niche store can have a transformative effect on the perception of the area. Much like the Joshua Cup has established new hope in the local retail environment, other niche stores committed to downtown and College Hill can further generate momentum. With the glaring need for a grocery store, a small grocery with ready-made meals would help serve students and residents alike. Similarly, small movie theaters that serve cocktails, or even the regular use of the Cox Theater for that purpose, would help to bring more activity to the area. Recruitment of these types of stores is a difficult and sometimes painful task. The following steps are recommended in following a recruiting path:

• Have Patience – This will not be achieved overnight. It must be an ongoing

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process that is followed actively if it is to be successful.

• Contact other locally owned stores within Macon that fit these niches – They may be looking to expand their locations and would be interested in hearing how College Hill could fit in their future plans.

• Contact the trade associations for each niche as listed below

– Some of the niches have an independent branch which will focus solely on the independently owned businesses that the Commission is interested in recruiting. • Advertise in trade journals – This process can be costly but there may be some opportunities to leverage the costs in creative ways. • Network – By keeping in contact with these various sources there may be opportunities for some low cost opportunities to put College Hill in front of some prospective businesses. For example, a national trade show could come through Atlanta which would present an opportunity to attend.

Food Markets Trade Associations: Food Marketing Institute 2345 Crystal Drive, Suite 800 Arlington, VA 22202 202-452-8444

Publications: Progressive Grocer 770 Broadway New York, NY 10003 646-654-7561

Organic Trade Association PO Box 547 Greenfield, MA 01301 413-774-7511

The Gourmet Retailer 3301 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Suite 300 Coral Gables, FL 33134 646-654-4539

" Was amazed at the darling shops and eateries to choose from! Cute boutiques, antique shops, even a bakery that specializes in cupcakes! I even found a new show repair shop that serves coffee while you wait for easy repairs! I’m going back tonight for drinks and live music—so many choices. There isn’t even one empty store front.

You’ve got to come next time! "

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5.3

Expand the Market on the Green

Residents are hoping for a grocery store to serve downtown and the College Hill Corridor. Until such time that this can take place, farmers markets are excellent ways to bring fresh produce to underserved areas and add a spark of street life even if only a few times a week. There is currently a farmers market on Poplar Street complete with crafts and music every Saturday. Opportunities should be explored to add a day to this market in different locations including Mercer Village to serve students and nearby neighbors. Expanded market days offer more opportunities for people to shop locally, promotes produce grown in the region, and helps to promote College Hill as green.

5.4

Promote green building

Decades ago, green development was rarely used in the context of design or planning. Green or “low impact” development is oriented toward reducing the environmental impact of development while reducing energy consumption and promoting healthier communities. Utilizing Energy Star appliances and recycled materials, limiting construction waste, effectively managing storm-water runoff and building walkable neighborhoods are the key objectives associated with growing green. Today, development that is environmentally responsible is expected in a growing number of cities and the initial fears that green development could not be done affordably have subsided. A study in 2006 by New Ecology Inc. and the Tellus Institute found that “green” projects cost, on average, 2.4% more to build but that occupants would save an average of $12,637 in utility costs over the life of each home. The benefit to the occupants reinforces the larger communal benefits including a reduced strain on local infrastructure and enhanced neighborhood pride that stems from a green and attractive environment. Chicago, now known as the greenest city in the U.S., as well as Boulder, CO; Oakland, CA; Berkeley, CA; Portland, OR; and Arlington County, VA, for instance, all have legislation in place that either requires or promotes green construction. To begin building a local culture devoted to greening Macon, the College Hill Corridor will need to lead by example. All new development and rehabilitation work including public improvements should be designed and built to meet the highest environmental standards. Effective green design is grounded in addressing two interlocking issues: building construction and site design. Building Construction / Rehabilitation: Green building technologies are now cost effective ways to save money on utility bills and minimize the impact on the environment. Standard practices include using Energy Star appliances, recycled materials, solar panels, solar hot water heaters, geo-thermal wells for heating and cooling, paints with low or no levels of volatile organic compounds, LED lighting and energy efficient windows to name a few. Site Design: As with the design of the streetscape, new buildings should be designed to limit impervious surfaces like asphalt to improve stormwater management where the ground can absorb water slowly like a sponge. Site design techniques to replace impermeable surfaces with permeable ones include:

Market on the Green

• Green roofs – roofs designed to accommodate soil, plants and even publicly accessible open space that reduce stormwater run-off and reduce cooling and heating costs. While green roofs will not work on buildings with pitched roofs, these surfaces can be white coated to reflect the sun and reduce cooling costs in the summer. • Permeable pavers – permeable asphalt, permeable concrete or pavers allow water to filter into the ground and should be used instead of traditional asphalt for parking areas. • Rain barrels / Water reclamation – Rain barrels can be bought inexpensively and used to capture roof run-off to be reused for gardening and other potable water applications. Larger developments should integrate larger holding tanks (sometimes called grey water cisterns), that serve as a gathering spot for water to be reused for landscaping, toilets and other uses.

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• Create a green roof demonstration project to educate Macon residents and business/property owners about the environmental and economic benefits of green roofs. An ideal location would be on top of the new student housing proposed at Mercer Village. • Work with the City and County Street departments to integrate green design techniques into road design standards. • Promote energy efficiency in new and existing structures by increasing use of passive technologies such as harvesting of solar and/or wind energies, and active technologies such as hydropower, and geothermal wells where possible. • Encourage all new construction and rehabilitation should be completed to meet or exceed the nationally recognized LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver rating. • Encourage hydrocycling in existing and proposed structures to utilize grey water as a viable resource for the community. • Physically promote each investment in green design through descriptive signs and potentially a green iPod tour that can be downloaded as a walking tour of the City.

5.5

Work to keep the Macon Health Club open

Sustainable neighborhoods thrive because of unique services that bring the community together. The Macon Health Club serves approximately 700 residents downtown in a unique facility. To help further the market for residential uses downtown, amenities like the Macon Health Club should be retained and marketed as a part of a downtown living package. Partnerships should be explored between the Health Club, NewTown Macon and private developers to provide automatic one-year membership to new renters in the downtown area which will promote greater short and long-term use of the facility.

5.6

Build for a mix of incomes

The College Hill Corridor encompasses a wide range of incomes and families. Very wealthy and very poor live together, sometimes on the same block. As the area continues to improve and new services and amenities are created, the diversity that defines the Corridor should be retained. This is the natural function of cities – to allow the market to work the way it is intended. As stated in the Wealth of Nations, “for nearly two-hundred years, the market had produced low-cost housing in a variety of forms, shapes and sizes.” The intent is to allow for a market-based solution to providing a range of affordable housing options.

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To make effectively bring green design to the College Hill Corridor, the following actions will need to be taken:

Clockwise from top: Recycled flooring; solar photovoltaic panels; permeable pavers; green roof; and small scale rainwater harvesting with inexpensive rain barrels.

New opportunities should be sought to improve the quality and type of low and moderate income developments. This can be accomplished in a number of ways: • By targeting a portion of CDBG and HOME funds to adjacent neighborhoods to help existing homeowners maintain and improve their homes. • Through new, private market-rate development of which a percentage of units (usually between 5 and 20%) could be set aside as workforce housing – typically for working families whose annual salary is relatively low like teachers; and • Through the development of new mixed-income developments that provide a range of affordable housing options for families of all income levels. Tattnall Place is an excellent local example of this idea put in practice.

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Develop for Impact

The College Hill Corridor is largely in-tact but also presents many development opportunities. A combination of vacant sites and underutilized parking lots comprise the primary opportunities. To have the proper impact, the phasing and type of new development will need to be carefully considered such that the initial investments have the greatest impact on the image, character and feel of the Corridor. The following recommendations identify a number of short and long-term opportunities to accomplish this goal.

5.7

Add density and a mix of uses to Mercer Village

a distinctive gateway presence, welcoming students, parents, faculty and visitors to Mercer University. All aspects of the building should be designed to meet LEED standards for green building including a green roof which will serve as a semi-private open space and resource to educate local stakeholders about the value of green roofs. The rear parking lot is large enough to include a grey water cistern which will provide a renewable water source for the building. The cistern will require that the parking

Mercer Village is a concept in its infancy. Mercer University has invested heavily in the idea by recruiting new retail establishments - notably Ingleside Pizza, Jittery Joes and Francars – which have become invaluable amenities to students, neighbors and downtown office workers. To support these investments, Mercer Village should be further developed as a mixed-use urban street to serve as a gathering point and interface between the University and surrounding neighborhoods. Mercer administration has already expressed a need to create 500 new student beds a portion of which could be developed here to further support the demand for more retail uses. The redevelopment of this area is perhaps the most critical project for the College Hill Corridor. Its successful implementation will help blur the line between the University and the City, replace parking lots with an active and vibrant street life, and build confidence in the commercial market. Cities across the country, both small and large, have experienced significant investment due to thoughtful and creative development projects such as the opportunity presented here. The approach is multi-faceted and includes a range of uses and public improvements for consideration.

Develop new student housing with ground floor retail next to Ingleside Pizza

The current parking lot adjacent to Ingleside Pizza is large and rarely at full occupancy. This property should be redeveloped with new retail facing Montpelier and two floors of student housing above. The student housing is designed as suites with each student having their own bedroom and four bedrooms sharing a kitchen, bath and living room. The site plan shows a setback from Montpelier to accommodate new outdoor seating, awnings and landscaping to create a supportive environment for the retail uses. The rear of the property is designed to incorporate loading and parking which is conveniently accessed from Johnson Street. A small pedestrian walkway is provided to ensure that there is a convenient connection between the retail businesses and rear parking lot. The building’s façade at the corner of Montpelier and Johnson should be designed to create

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Example of urban student housing: West Campus Residential Initiative, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Mark Sanderson of DIGSAU working as Project Architect for KieranTimberlake Associates (Phase 1) Jeff Goldstein of DIGSAU working as Project Architect for KieranTimberlake Associates (Phase 4) Photographs: by Barry Halkin @ Halkin Photography & Peter Aaron @ Esto


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lot is made from pervious pavers and properly designed to catch stormwater. Equally important, the units should be marketed to students as green and provide access to car sharing and bear bikes as a condition of rental. The total development potential for the site includes approximately 100 units of student housing, 10,000 sq. ft. of retail and 70 parking spaces. The limited amount of on-site parking to serve the student housing is a part of a larger strategy to reduce car ownership by students as described in Recommendation 3.4. But there is also plenty of available parking across campus and since “you can walk anywhere on campus in 6 to 7 minutes,” the approach is to maximize active uses at Mercer Village and build a vibrant street life.

Develop a campus bookstore with student housing above

The south side of Montpelier is also a Mercer-owned parking lot and should be redeveloped to compliment the proposed structure across the street described above. The opportunity is to create a new campus bookstore on the ground floor with two floors of student housing above. To complement the proposed development across Montpelier, a green roof should also be considered for this development. Access for loading is provided via the existing rear right-of-way that stretches between Linden and Winship. Parking to serve the bookstore is available across Montpelier and behind the store for employees. If a bookstore retailer cannot be secured, the ground floor could be developed to leave more room for parking behind the structure. The total development potential for the site includes 100 units of student housing and 18,000 square feet of retail.

Calm traffic and make a gateway statement

The Montpelier bridge over I-75 is extremely wide and consequently so too is Montpelier at the western edge of Mercer Village. The large street width encourages cars to drive extremely fast which negatively impacts pedestrian safety, especially with regards to pedestrians crossing in this area. Many at Mercer and the City have long recognized that vehicular traffic must slow down to recreate Montpelier as a walkable, mixed-use street. This is even more important with the significant amount of additional pedestrian activity that is expected with the future development. To meet this objective, the City’s Traffic Engineer has developed a cost-effective solution to initially slow traffic. The plan includes new curb extensions at the intersection of Montpelier and Johnson as well as a new median to help reduce the width of the street and

Mercer Village

Figure 97. Existing Mercer Village and Mercer-owned properties

provide more space for pedestrians and landscaping. A similar approach is proposed for the Montpelier and Linden intersection. The plan also calls for striped on-street parking and frequent crosswalks. This design should be immediately implemented. Building on the Street Department’s design, there are opportunities to make a larger statement - to create an assertive and eye-catching gateway to Mercer University and the College Hill Corridor. The University and the community have long discussed the idea of new roundabouts along Montpelier to help slow traffic and create a unique entryway experience. Roundabouts are traffic calming devices that force cars to slow down significantly and it will signify to drivers that they have entered Mercer’s campus. Additional space will also be available to provide for pedestrian crossings and landscaping.

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Figure 98. Montpelier between Johnson and Coleman — existing cross-section

Figure 100.

Existing Mercer Village site plan

Two roundabouts should be developed at Mercer Village.

Figure 99. Montpelier between Johnson and Coleman — proposed cross-section

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

• The first should occupy space between the I-75 bridge and the Johnson and Montpelier intersection. The location preserves West Macon Screen and maximizes developable space suitable for new retail and student housing on the north side of Montpelier. The center of the roundabout should be designed to accommodate a tall work of public art to help mark the intersection from a distance. This may require some work to the bridge structure. • The second roundabout should occupy the Linden and Montpelier intersection. The roundabout as currently designed would only minimally impact the potential site of the bookstore and student housing on the south side of Montpelier and eliminate about half of the existing parking lot located between Jittery Joes and Francars. As with the other proposed roundabout, this should be designed to accommodate public art.


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Figure 101.

Mercer Village site plan

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Close Linden and Coleman Streets to create a Mercer Green

At the curve where Montpelier becomes Coleman, there are two small green spaces rarely used by students or neighbors. The first includes a tall fountain and landscaped berm which blocks the view of the retail space behind it. The second is a small triangle planted with bands of different grasses. Neither park is an amenity for Mercer or the neighborhood yet the existing traffic patterns make redesigning these small spaces difficult. As confirmed by traffic counts completed for this plan, there is minimal traffic activity on the two streets that divide these park spaces. Much of the traffic along Linden is cut-through traffic, the volume of which is low enough to easily redirect. The proposal is to close the Linden connection as well as the small, one-way extension of Coleman to create one large campus green that will serve as a real amenity to students and neighbors. The entire green should be redesigned, including the removal of the fountain, which will open up views to the retail storefronts. The cut-through traffic that previously used Linden can be redirected along a number of streets to the west, but the most likely destination is along Johnson Street which is only one block to the west. The advantage of redirecting traffic on Johnson is that traffic will be forced to drive by the new storefronts developed on Montpelier. This means more exposure and visibility for retail businesses.

Figure 102. Sketch by DIGSAU

Rendering of existing Mercer Village along Montpelier Avenue

Figure 103.

Roundabouts and redirected traffic

Create a Mercer presence on the northwest corner of Coleman and Adams

The creation of a Mercer Green as described above needs a stronger and more active frontage along Coleman to activate the open space. Mercer should consider redeveloping the parking lot on the northwest corner of Coleman and Adams for a small store with Mercer offices or student housing above. The small size of the site will limit the amount of space developed. However, even a small, new structure will have a significant impact in helping to more directly link Tattnall Square with investment at Mercer Village. In redeveloping this property, a small alleyway should be created to improve access and parking for the adjacent Mercer-owned properties. In concert with this development, the two houses along Coleman owned by Mercer should be reused. Both houses are suitable for conversion to a Bed and Breakfast which would support Mercer and the community or Mercer offices with an emphasis on student services and programming.

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Figure 104. Rendering of proposed development and streetscape improvements. Rendering by DIGSAU

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5.8 Redevelop Mercer properties along College Street for new student housing

Mercer currently owns a collection of properties along College Street across from Tattnall Square. The properties consist of an existing Mercer office building, unused lot and rear parking lot. In addition, there are a number of other lots stretching back to the rail corridor some of which are used for parking and others simply unused but maintained. This site represents an opportunity to infuse this block with more activity and provide the necessary student beds the University is looking to create. The approach includes: • Develop a three-story building facing College Street for student housing. The set back of the building should reflect those of nearby properties. • Create a linear garden and path as a buffer from the adjacent building to the south. This linear garden leads to a small plaza that acts as a forecourt to a second building. • Develop a four-story building in the middle of the block for student housing. The building’s location and orientation will make its height unnoticeable from nearby streets. • Rehabilitate the existing structure owned by Mercer facing College Street for new student housing. • Work with Centenery Church who owns the properties leading back to the rail corridor to explore the possibility of creating an improved and shared parking lot to serve multiple uses. • Create a piece of the trail network along the rail corridor. The trail is proposed to extend further to the south into Tindall Heights and north into Beall’s Hill. As with the development at Mercer Village, the building and site design should seek to meet green development standards outlined in Recommendation 5.4. The total development potential for the site includes 200 units of student housing with a potential 80 space shared parking lot.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 105.

5.9

Existing Mercer-owned properties on College Street

Explore opportunities to create a better senior center

The Senior Center located just north of the corner of Adams and Coleman across from Tattnall Square has been described as a center in need of improvement. According to some that have participated in this plan, it largely goes underutilized despite the fact that it is a necessary amenity for the local population. Seniors deserve amenities that help them to age in place with dignity and respect. The City and the Commission should undertake a feasibility study to determine a better site and building for the senior center as well as potential opportunities for the reuse or redevelopment of the existing site if the senior center is moved. Any site should be located in the area of transit service and should have a parking supply that reflects the low vehicle ownership that senior citizens demand.


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Figure 106.

Existing college Street site plan

Figure 107.

College Street site plan

"What was most impressive was the number of students walking and biking up and down the streets between gorgeous, refurbished Tattnall Square Park and Macon’s vibrant downtown—and spending money in the shops and cafés!"

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5.10 Fill the critical gaps between the University and Downtown

Making the connection between Mercer and downtown must address the few locations that serve as noticeable gaps. These locations are often perceived as unsafe and inhibit walking and biking due to their physical condition. It led one participant to

“it’s more dangerous on the way to downtown than in downtown.”

remark that

Two areas should be targeted for redevelopment.

Transform the vacant laundry into a destination

The current building is small and reuse would likely not provide enough revenue to offset site acquisition costs. The opportunity is to redevelop the site with a three story structure with a restaurant on the ground floor and housing above. The restaurant would face an area for outdoor seating. To provide safe access to the site, a new driveway is created between the new building and the neighboring home to the north. The goal is to move the drive as far from the curve at the Appleton Bridge as possible so oncoming traffic is visible for those leaving the property. The site is long which allows for a parking area tucked in the rear. The small, informal drive that parallels the rail corridor and connect to Columbus Street should be improved as a well lit and attractive pedestrian path.

Existing vacant dry cleaner on College Street.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Figure 108.

Existing vacant dry cleaner

Figure 109.

Potential redevelopment of vacant dry cleaner


Redevelop the Forsyth and College gas stations

The former Phillips 66 and the existing gas station are visible eyesores both for the pedestrians and bicyclists that this plan is encouraging as well as the drivers that enter downtown along Forsyth. Both sites also have issues that need to be addressed. The Phillips 66 is for sale but the uses largely proposed to date are not financially feasible or has not attracted the right retail tenant. The gas station is currently active and would require purchase by the City. As active and former gas stations, both sites have environmental concerns that need to be addressed. The redevelopment of these properties includes the development of two, three-story buildings both with retail on the ground floor and new student housing above. Given the site limitations, the number of student beds in this location is low but would serve to activate the corners. As student housing, the units could be marketed as eco-friendly thus minimizing parking requirements on-site. Parking for the units would be available on Mercer’s main campus. The intent is to attract students looking to walk and bike to class. If possible, the existing awnings of the Phillips 66 should be reused to provide attractive outdoor seating. Coordinated with the rain garden and new landscaping along Forsyth west of College Street, this intersection will become the symbol of an improved College Hill Corridor.

Figure 110.

Existing vacant dry cleaner site plan

Figure 111.

Site plan for dry cleaner

Figure 112.

Existing gas station sites at College and Forsyth.

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Figure 113.

Forsyth between I-76 and College — existing cross-section

Figure 115.

Existing site plan for College and Forsyth

Figure 114.

Forsyth between I-76 and College — proposed cross-section

Figure 116.

Site plan for College and Forsyth

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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Existing intersection of Forsyth Street and College Street

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Figure 117. Sketch by DIGSAU

“There is a lack of entrances to the corridor, there is no sense

of arrival.�

Figure 118. Rendering for proposed improvements at College and Forsyth Rendering by DIGSAU

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5.11 Redevelop the Post Office parking lot for retail and housing

The post office on College Street is a local landmark due to its scale and history as the original location of Wesleyan University. Across from Washington Park and close to the Library, this block represents a critical juncture within the corridor. Unfortunately, a gap exists on College Street at Magnolia Street due to a large parking lot that serves post office employees. This property, facing both College Street and Washington Park, is an excellent development opportunity with the potential to transform the image of the corridor. New development would create an active street wall to encourage more pedestrian activity on both College and Magnolia while improving the safety of Washington Park by virtue of replacing an empty lot with an active use at night. The Commission should engage the post office to discuss options for selling this site to the City. This is an extremely marketable site for development due to its location and views. The City and the Commission should work together to choose a developer by releasing a request for qualifications that stipulates design approach. The Commission should also offer assistance, where necessary, to the post office with the redesign of the rear of their property to accommodate the lost parking. This plan illustrates two new buildings. Facing College Street is a three-story building with parking in the rear. The primary use is housing but opportunities should be explored to include a small store at the corner of Magnolia and College. A three-story row of townhouses like those commonly found on Orange Street should be developed on Magnolia overlooking Washington Park.

Figure 119.

Existing block between Georgia and Hardeman

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

5.12 Encourage redevelopment of the block between Hardeman and Georgia

The block between Hardeman, Monroe, Georgia and Arlington once served as a small grocery store. After closing, the block has remained a vacant eyesore with the exception of the existing bank along Monroe. Participants in the first open house expressed their concerns about this site and its future potential. There was an overwhelming feeling from participants that the site should once again become a supermarket with a larger vision of redeveloping adjacent properties for entertainment uses and housing. But the site faces many challenges. Surrounding properties, particularly along Georgia, are largely underutilized with a mix of surface parking, small office and retail buildings and vacant land. Most importantly, both Georgia and Hardeman are extremely fast-moving streets that act as mini-highways effectively cutting off the site from the surrounding neighborhoods. For any development to occur on the site, traffic calming is necessary to slow traffic. As Hardeman carries heavier traffic and is two-way adjacent to the site, the real opportunity to slow traffic is along Georgia. Currently a one-way road west of College Street with two wide travel lanes and minimal sidewalks, this plan recommends reconfiguring Georgia to allow for two-way traffic, on-street parking, and improved sidewalks. To further slow traffic, Georgia should terminate at Monroe Street and redirect traffic to Hardeman for


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Given the scale and complexity of the site, this plan presents two alternatives for consideration by the Commission which allows flexibility in securing financing to transform the site into an active amenity for College Hill. These include:

Post office parking lot

Figure 120.

A new supermarket

A grocery store is sorely needed in the community and this plan recommends that if possible a new grocery should be developed on this site. The existing building should be demolished and replaced with a new structure that backs up to Arlington Place which enables the post office and the grocery to share a rear alleyway for loading and access. The site plan shows a 35,000 square feet supermarket with associated parking.

Figure 121.

Existing site plan at Georgia and Hardeman

Existing traffic conditions and context at Georgia and Hardeman.The area sits at the nexus between historic communities and an auto-dominated character.

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access to I-75. By redesigning Georgia as a neighborhood street more in keeping with its character east of College Street, redevelopment of the underutilized commercial uses and vacant land would be facilitated for a wider range of potential uses including housing.


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Figure 122.

Geargia / Hardeman redevelopment alternative 1: Supermarket

While a new supermarket is the ideal, supermarket retailers are notoriously conservative about entering urban markets. In the south, only Publix and Kroger offered an urban supermarket model (of about 35,000 sq. ft., significantly less than the typical 50,000 sq. ft.). Kroger has discontinued this model and Publix has already expressed no interest in downtown Macon. The difficulty is in the model used by retailers to locate new supermarkets. Their formula looks at a combination of population density, access, income and visibility. If a site scores low on any, convincing a market otherwise is difficult. While a 35,000 sq. ft. market works on this site physically, there is not enough

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

density within a ½ mile nor is there direct highway access to the site (only from the site). A report completed by the National Trust Main Street Center in 2005 confirmed these issues and recommended several alternatives including: • A co-op market; • Year round farmers market; or • A specialty foods market.


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Figure 123.

Georgia / Hardeman redevelopment alternative 2: Mixed use village

The advantage of these alternatives is that they require less space which would allow for additional uses on site to support the endeavor. Most co-ops for instance are less than 10,000 sq. ft. but have filled a necessary niche for fresh food in many cities including Tacoma, Philadelphia and Rochester.

A mixed-use village

If a supermarket cannot be enticed to the site, this plan strongly recommends moving forward with an alternative approach that combines housing with

retail. The opportunity is to reconnect Pleasant Hill with InTown by extending Arlington Place through the site as a neighborhood street. New, mixed-income housing developed along this extension will help create a seamless connection between the communities. In addition, new housing development should also address Georgia to help create an active and attractive edge to the Pleasant Hill community. The remainder of the site is envisioned for retail development with new commercial uses facing Hardeman. The space between the residential and commercial uses is planned for parking to serve the housing and a small courtyard. The development potential based on this approach is 60 units of housing and 15,000 square feet of new retail.

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5.13 Proactively market long-term development opportunities

This plan identified many sites for development that would have a visible and catalytic impact on the look and feel of the corridor. Other development opportunities exist, however, that should be actively marketed and promoted to prospective developers. The Commission should work with the City and local realtors to create information packets to market a range of opportunities in the College Hill area. These opportunities most notably include: • Leverage the community’s investment in Tyler’s Place – The vacant housing development across from Tyler’s Place (the dog park) is an opportunity to build upon a community-driven initiative and capitalize on the expanding market in Huegenin Heights. • Redevelop Riverside Drive – The College Hill Corridor is cut-off from unique amenities including the river and both the Riverside and Rose Hill Cemeteries by the unfriendly and car-dominated Riverside Drive. In addition to intersection enhancements described in Recommendation 4.10, underutilized properties between Madison and Orange Streets should be redeveloped to add activity to this important connection. • Reinforce Tattnall Place and Beall’s Hill – The Macon Housing Authority’s investment in Tattnall Place has transformed what was once a deteriorating housing project into a mixed-income community. This investment should be reinforced with infill development on vacant sites along Oglethorpe primarily between College and 1st Streets. • Encourage infill development on Forsyth between Spring Street and City Hall – With the improvements recommended in this plan there is a string of recommendations all less than 900 feet from one another between Daisy Park and Mercer Village. The missing link is from Spring Street to City Hall – two long blocks with unique but scattered uses. Small scale redevelopment and rehabilitation of existing facades is needed to support public investments like the proposed roundabout at the intersection of New, Plum and Forsyth. • Redevelop underutilized space and consolidate parking on downtown’s western edge – Between downtown and College Hill is a large number of separate parking lots that creates a disconnected feeling between these areas. Opportunities to consolidate parking and redevelop key, visible lots along Mulberry, New and Spring Streets should be evaluated. A downtown parking study would help to define a specific redevelopment approach.

Top to bottom: Riverside Drive; vacant building on Forsyth Street; vacant land on Oglethorpe Street; parking lots on New Street.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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Figure 124.

Opportunity sites Numbered sites indicate priority development opportunities

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DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


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V. Implementation


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“We are turning the corner here.” “We just need to learn that we can do it.”

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


V Implementation As the first comprehensive plan undertaken for the entire community in decades, it was the responsibility of this work to evaluate the potential future and not limit the strategies based solely on what the CHCC can do on their own. This means that although this work was sponsored by the CHCC and their partners, the scope was much broader resulting in a series of recommendations that necessitates great cooperation, hard work, and persistence to ensure that resulting change delivers success to the residents, business owners, and stakeholders in the College Hill Corridor. This document is a guide and while there are many strategies that the CHCC can fund and begin work on independently, many others require the CHCC to continue the conversation and build greater momentum moving forward. City and State agencies, local institutions, and interested developers must form an active dialog about these recommendations. The CHCC will need to creatively blend dollars from both public and private sources to maximize impact. This plan can, and should, be updated in 10 years. Funding sources and programs, political representatives, community leaders, on the ground conditions, and even some local priorities will change in ways that are impossible to predict fully. As different recommendations move forward, community priorities should be re-evaluated, and, if necessary, new recommendations that reinforce the goals and objectives set forth during this process should be considered.

Evolution of the Commission

It is important to put this type of plan into perspective. Organizations like the CHCC, sometimes called Alliances or neighborhood non-profit corporations, exist throughout the Country and abroad. The most successful organizations started with a simple mission to engage the public and undertake visible and physical changes to spur reinvestment. Within a few years, organizations like the CHCC typically expand into more significant initiatives as funding allows. The CHCC’s decision to undertake this plan builds on best practices around the country that have used plans to identify how best to spend their money (and time). The CHCC has, in many ways, forged new ground here. As noted above, this plan is not just about the Mercer, downtown or InTown, but the entire community. It is forward thinking but also pragmatic. It is also an opportunity to help the CHCC take the next evolutionary step in its development. For these reasons, it is important that those most committed to the project and its ultimate implementation continue to drive the project forward. The CHCC and their partners have demonstrated the ability to nimbly and

quickly bring ideas to life, the success of which has already built a recognizable brand for the organization, and brought dollars to the Corridor to jumpstart this plan. Perhaps most importantly, they have built an expectation that change is possible and that this plan will result in real improvement. The CHCC and the growing number of interested residents and students need to have an ongoing voice to creatively respond to the bumps in the road that ultimately challenges any implementation process. The core stakeholders that have actively committed their time and energy into seeing this plan completed are needed now more than ever because in coming weeks and months, it will be important to keep the momentum built during the planning process alive by taking some immediate steps.

Take Some Immediate Next Steps

The CHCC and its coalition of involved residents and local institutions will need to take several important next steps – with the City of Macon, with potential funders, as an organization, and with the residents and stakeholders themselves – to ensure that those involved stay involved and that those in power take note of the plan and embrace an active role in its implementation.

Submit the plan for adoption

The first action item for the CHCC is to present this plan for adoption to City Council and the Mayor. Such official recognition of this plan and the community’s vision for the Corridor is necessary to make certain that the physical and policy elements of the plan are incorporated into the City’s future plans and thus achieved over the longer term. Floating the plan among City representatives will also raise awareness that significant strides have been made to organize the local stakeholders and prepare for the neighborhood’s revitalization.

Present this plan, in full, to interested foundations

Submit this plan to the Knight Foundation, Peyton Anderson Foundation and the Grassman Foundation for discussion about potential implementation funding. This plan was made possible, in part, by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation, which renders the plan eligible to receive implementation assistance.

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Form Action Teams

The CHCC should form sub-committees, or Action Teams, to serve as a resident and stakeholder-driven force for implementation. The Action Teams should correspond to the goal areas established in the recommendations section of this plan. In this way, the Action Teams will directly address the Corridor’s critical needs. The Action Teams should consist of volunteers – local residents, students, faculty, and business owners as well as representatives of service providers and core institutions – who are interested in ensuring the success of that particular focus. Each Action Team must take responsibility for its part of plan implementation, set aggressive schedules, and monitor its progress.

Found a Youth Council

The improvement of the College Hill Corridor and surrounding communities is a unique opportunity to expose local youth to the process of city building. Specifically, the process of guiding recommendations to reality should be viewed as a laboratory for local youth and a way to build leadership skills for Macon’s future adults stretching across neighborhood and socio-economic backgrounds. A Youth Council is the first step toward effecting positive change in the lives of local youth. The Youth Council, comprised initially of a group of ten to fifteen teens representing local neighborhoods, will serve several purposes. • The Youth Council will give local kids a voice in the community – an opportunity to contribute constructively to the neighborhood’s future. The Commission will benefit from the presence of another important perspective at the table and a powerful new partner in the area’s revitalization. • The individual teens involved will benefit from leadership training, professional development, and exposure to civic responsibility. • Local teens will have an opportunity to work on a productive project outside of the classroom setting, to restore hope and belief in the power of their actions, and to meet new mentors and contacts who might provide valuable references for future opportunities. • Beyond the personal empowerment that teens on the Youth Council will experience, their work in partnership with the Commission will help to improve the youth environment in the community for all children, adolescents, teens, and young adults.

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Add organizational capacity

The CHCC has proven it is an extremely capable and knowledgeable organization with the potential to undertake a strong leadership role in guiding many of these recommendations toward reality. But with new ideas comes the need for more people to be actively involved. This plan adds significantly to the CHCC’s To Do list, and as the plan moves toward implementation, resident, student, faculty and business support and participation are key to the ultimate success of the plan. The CHCC must continue to work to inspire all stakeholders to get involved and stay involved. While both the organization’s professional capacity and level of volunteer commitment are impressive, the CHCC’s staff will need to grow in order to keep up with existing responsibilities plus new tasks stemming from the plan. Within the next year, the CHCC should hire a dedicated executive director to keep the momentum going. As implementation quickens, two additional staff positions should be considered - one to focus on public relations and marketing and the other to concentrate on grant writing and community outreach. Until funds are available for these positions, it is likely that the director can utilize the staff and support of local organizations that share common goals and objectives.


Attached is an Implementation Matrix that details the timeframe and estimated costs for each recommendation. The spreadsheet is intended to serve as a guide to help organize and track the neighborhood’s progress in implementing the plan’s components. It should be used actively, updated, and changed once implementation commences; costs are preliminary and will need to be updated as efforts move forward. While the Implementation Matrix addresses each recommendation, discussions with the CHCC, community stakeholders, and public officials have identified a number of clear priority projects. These priority projects are defined as critical investments that can have a transformative impact on the community in the coming year or soon thereafter. While some of these projects will not be implemented fully within even the next few years, it is important that significant progress be made toward their implementation. The potential economic impact associated with just the primary development sites discussed Section 5 could conservatively generate 800 jobs and add new ratables to the City's tax rolls. The CHCC, its partners, and community members have identified the following capital projects as priority projects:

The Basics: • • • • •

Expand recycling and composting (Recommendation 1.1); Expand the presence of bicycle police (Recommendation 1.4); Expand Corridor lighting and upgrade to LED (recommendation 1.8); Create an annual calendar of events (Recommendation 1.11); Develop a student produced guide to Macon (Recommendation 1.12);

The Vibe: • • • • •

Parties in the streets (Recommendation 2.2); Encourage roving galleries of local artists (Recommendation 2.8); Encourage more service learning projects with Mercer (Recommendation 2.10); Develop a scavenger hunt for incoming Mercer students (Recommendation 2.11); Market Mercer sports and music events (Recommendation 2.17);

The Connection: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Stripe separate and shared bicycle lanes in the Corridor (Recommendation 3.1); Install bike parking in the Corridor (Recommendation 3.2); Add bike boxes at intersections (Recommendation 3.3); Expand bike sharing (Recommendation 3.5); Bury the utilities (Recommendation 3.11); Widen the sidewalks (Recommendation 3.12); Bring car sharing to Macon (Recommendation 3.14); Encourage walking among Medical Center employees/patients and visitors (Recommendation 3.19); Improve sidewalks and crosswalks around schools, parks and museums (Recommendation 3.22); Encourage parents and kids to walk to school (Recommendation 3.23); Leverage Safe Routes to School funding (Recommendation 3.25); Improve the connections to the Hilton Garden Inn (Recommendation 3.26); Install roundabouts at key intersections (Recommendation 3.30); Integrate left-turn channelization at intersections (Recommendation 3.31); Install bumpouts and change curb radii (Recommendation 3.32);

The Environment: • • • •

Fill the gaps in the urban forest (Recommendation 4.1); Upgrade retention walls as living walls (Recommendation 4.3); Improve Tattnall Square as a centerpiece of College Hill (Recommendation 4.5); Add trail amenities to key streets (Recommendation 4.9);

The Look:

Market small spaces to small businesses (Recommendation 5.1); Promote green building (Recommendation 5.4); Add density and a mix of uses to Mercer Village (Recommendation 5.7); Redevelop Mercer owned properties along College Street for new student housing (Recommendation 5.8); • Fill the gaps between the University and downtown (Recommendation 5.10). • • • •

The ball is rolling; the challenge now is to maintain the energy and momentum. Good luck… and have fun!

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Implementation Matrix and Phasing

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College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan

Implementation Matrix

All costs are order-of-magnitude only. Costs will need to be updated as implementation progresses Priority Projects Indicated by: X

short-term = first 2 years medium-term = 2-5 years long-term = 5+ years

What the College Hill Corridor Commission should do tomorrow Priority?

Number

Action

Timeframe

Estimated Cost

X

Submit the plan for adoption by the City of Macon as an amendment to the Master Plan

short-term

--

X

Present this plan, in full, to the Knight Foundation

short-term

--

X

Present the plan to the Peyton Anderson Foundation and other partner organizations

short-term

--

X

Initiate a comprehensive traffic study and engineering drawings to develop the transportation recommendations further and raise implementation dollars

short-term

$370,000

X

Market the plan and continue public debate and outreach efforts

short-term

$78,100

X

Hire an environmental designer to create a unified wayfinding system

short-term

$75,000

Timeframe

Estimated Cost

short-term short-term medium-term

$50,000 $30,000 $75,000

short-term medium-term short-term medium-term short-term medium-term long-term

$500 -$5,000 $25,000 $585,000 $75,000 $50,000

short-term short-term short-term medium-term medium-term

$2,500 $5,000 $5,000 $200,000 $40,000

The Basics: Clean, Safe and Branded Priority?

Number

Action

Keep it Clean X

1.1 1.2 1.3

Expand recycling and composting Provide more trash receptacles Create a College Hill BID Keep it Safe

X

X

1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10

Expand the presence of bicycle police Track and coordinate police data between City of Macon and Mercer Encourage community policing and safety initiatives Offer a guaranteed ride home at night Expand Corridor lighting and upgrade to LED Undertake an LED yard lighting program Bring emergency telephones to the corridor Tell People Where They Are

X X

1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15

Create an annual calendar of events Develop a student-produced guide to Macon Create and distribute reusable CHCC shopping bags/totes Create an integrated signage / wayfinding system Make a new Living History map

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The Vibe: College Town Cool Priority?

Number

Action

Timeframe

Estimated Cost

medium-term short-term medium-term medium-term short-term medium-term long-term short-term short-term

$30,000 $5,000 $20,000 $75,000 $50,000 TBD TBD $5,000 $50,000

short-term short-term medium-term long-term medium-term medium-term medium-term short-term

-$10,000 TBD TBD --TBD $20,000

Reinforce the arts and add new events to the calendar X

X

2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9

Create a race on the hill! Parties in the streets! Organize and market a weekly “open late� night Put artists to work Take reading (and music) to the streets Convert vacant storefront space for artist live / work space Develop affordable arts space in the upper floors of mixed-use building Encourage roving galleries of local artists Transform key blank spaces into canvasses Expand neighborhood engagement with Mercer

X X

X

2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17

Encourage more Service-Learning Projects Develop a scavenger hunt for incoming Mercer students Offer Mercer Bucks discounts for area businesses Offer student night at cultural spots Recruit local students for Bear Bike bike mechanic workshops Encourage new courses to serve the broader community Consider a Neighbors Bear Card Market Mercer sports and music events

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The Connection: Cooling the Streets Priority?

Number

Action

Timeframe

Estimated Cost

Connect Mercer to Downtown and Create a Bicycling Community X

3.1

Stripe separated and shared bike lanes in the College Hill Corridor

short-term

$750,000

X

3.2

Install bike parking in the College Hill Corridor

short-term

$20,000

X

3.3

Add bike boxes at intersections

short-term

--

3.4

Institute a Bikes for Cars program at Mercer

short-term

$25,000

X

3.5

Expand bike sharing

short-term

$5,000

3.6

Bike Macon Bike

medium-term

$2,000

3.7

Establish an education/Bike Ambassador program

medium-term

--

3.8

Offer discounts for bike riders

short-term

--

3.9

Sponsor a Bike to Work Week

medium-term

--

3.10

Encourage a student-run pedicab business

long-term

5,000

$2,000,000

Improve the Pedestrian Experience X

3.11

Bury the utilities

short-term

X

3.12

Widen sidewalks

short-term

$750,000

3.13

Create a Brick Sidewalk Rehab/Repair Program

medium-term

$10,000 per year

Reduce the traffic and parking demand at Mercer X

3.14

Bring car sharing to Macon

short-term

$0 - $25,000

3.15

Embrace bicycling for students and faculty

short-term

--

3.16

Enhance the Parking Permit Program

short-term

--

3.17

Create a Parking Cashout/Carpool program

3.18

Enhance Transit

short-term

$15,000

medium-term

TBD

Encourage walking among employees/patients/visitors

short-term

$5,000

3.20

Reduce parking demand

short-term

$5,000

3.21

Improve transit around Hospital

long-term

$25,000

Improve sidewalks and crosswalks around schools, parks and museums

short-term

$100,000

Create a connected Medical Network X

3.19

Make Youthful Connections X X X

3.22 3.23

Encourage kids/parents to walk to school

short-term

--

3.24

Increase bike parking at schools

short-term

$2,000

3.25

Leverage Safe Routes to School funding

short-term

--

Keep the Connections Going

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


3.21

Improve transit around Hospital

long-term

$25,000

Make Youthful Connections 3.22

Improve sidewalks and crosswalks around schools, parks and museums

short-term

$100,000

X

3.23

Encourage kids/parents to walk to school

short-term

--

3.24

Increase bike parking at schools

short-term

$2,000

3.25

Leverage Safe Routes to School funding

short-term

--

X

Keep the Connections Going X

3.26

Improve the Connection to the Hilton Garden

3.27

Continue Bicycle Connections to the West

short-term

$20,000

medium-term

$50,000

3.28 3.29

Plan for a connection to Tindall Heights

medium-term

250,000

Integrate Pedestrian/Bicycling Accommodations on the South Downtown Connector

medium-term

50,000

short-term

$750,000

Intersection Improvements X

3.30

Install roundabouts at key intersections

X

3.31

Integrate left-turn channelization

short-term

$50,000

X

3.32

Install bumpouts and change curb radii

short-term

$250,000

3.33

Make traffic signal modifications Remove Georgia Department of Transportation Jurisdiction

short-term

$500,000

short-term

$100,000

3.34

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X


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The Environment: A City within a Park Priority?

Number

Action

Timeframe

Estimated Cost

short-term medium-term medium-term medium-term

$200,000 -$40,000 $250,000

Re-Plant the Public Realm X X

4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4

Fill the gaps in the urban forest Develop a locally enforced tree ordinance Upgrade retention walls as living walls Integrate stormwater management into the streetscape Strategically Improve Park Space

X

4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8

Improve Tattnall Square as a centerpiece of College Hill Re-design Daisy Park Create a new entry plaza to the churches Create a new City Hall civic plaza

medium-term long-term medium-term long-term

$2,000,000 $300,000 $100,000 $500,000

X

4.9 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14

Add trail amenities to key streets Make Riverside Drive more pedestrian friendly Make it safer to cross to the Ocmulgee Trail Improve the Dog Park Link to the Booker T Washington Recreation Center Add pedestrian amenities to Rose Park

short-term long-term long-term medium-term medium-term medium-term

$75,000 $20,000 TBD $20,000 $200,000 $25,000

Create an urban exercise trail

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


The Look: Macon's Urban and Historic Center Priority?

Number

Action

Timeframe

Estimated Cost

Encourage a Sustainable Community X

X

5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5

Market small spaces to small businesses Recruit to fill retail niches Expand the Market on the Green Promote green building Work to keep the Macon Health Club open

short-term short-term medium-term short-term short-term

$10,000 ongoing $20,000 -TBD

5.6

Build for a mix of incomes

medium-term

leveraged private investment & City dollars

short-term short-term long-term medium-term long-term medium-term long-term

leveraged private investment leveraged private investment leveraged private investment leveraged private investment leveraged private investment leveraged private investment leveraged private investment

Develop for Impact X X X

5.7 5.8 5.9 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13

Add density and a mix of uses to Mercer Village Redevelop Mercer owned properties along College Street for new student housing Explore opportunities to create a better senior center Fill the critical gaps between the University and Downtown Redevelop the Post Office parking lot for retail and housing Encourage redevelopment of the block between Hardeman and Georgia Proactively market long-term development opportunities

implementation

draft

214


215

DRAFT College Hill Corridor / Mercer Village Master Plan


College Hill Corridor Draft Master Plan