A major revitalization of the Eisenhower Parkway and Mercer University Drive corridors is beginning thanks to a major donation and plans for infrastructure improvements and attracting new businesses through a public-private partnership.
“We are in the center of our community. A place we cannot run from, a place that still needs assets, love, money, respect,” said Mayor Miler. “This area is getting ready to explode [in growth]. It’s nothing one person can do. It’s something that we can do together.”
On Wednesday, September 8, Mayor Lester Miller, along with business and education partners, announced that Hull Property Group would be donating the Macon Mall to Macon-Bibb County and the Urban Development Authority. The Mall, under the plan announced, would include using the Mall for its current retail stores, bringing in more retail, attracting new restaurants into and around the Mall, government offices, and new sporting and entertainment activities, including the possibility of a large indoor pickleball center.
“We didn’t do this out of philanthropy. We did it because it’s really the right thing to do for this property,” said Hull Property Group Owner James Hull.
“We have to save this mall and Eisenhower Corridor, and we’re doing that. This is historic,” said District 9 Commissioner Al Tillman. “This has been the biggest announcement during my tenure. We could not do it without Mayor Miller, Commission, and new administration.”
It would also include, and this was the part that drew the most applause, building an approximate 10,000 seat amphitheater. Once completed, a company would be hired to manage the facility, one that has the expertise in the entertainment industry to create a great experience for people and can ensure the acts being booked would draw people from the entire region.
“This area here is going to start with our musical heritage,” said Mayor Miller. “This amphitheater will compliment the Centreplex, the Auditorium, and all of the other venues we have, because we know Macon is the music capital of the world.”
“I cannot wait to see what the next several years bring. I can’t wait to be standing here, listening to music with all of you, and celebrating what can happen when people collaborate, stay focused and do what’s good for everyone as a whole,” said Eisenhower Business Improvement District Executive Director Jaime Arnold.
“I am so proud to see us reinvesting not only in a parkway, a side of town, but reinvesting in our people,” said Central Georgia Technical College President Dr. Ivan Allen. “Mayor, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as an education community, as a business community. You have our pledge that we will see this project through. We will put money in the pockets of those willing to work.”
“This area has always been my home and if you haven’t noticed by now, I have a passion and connection for it. I want to see it grow and prosper,” said Mayor Miller.
The project will not cost taxpayers any additional money. Rather, bonds will be issued that will be repaid for with rents already being paid at the mall and future rents from new businesses opening.