Looking to the Future: What Will Macon's Urban Core Look Like in 2027?


Washington Square Park is now one of the pleasant places to sit and enjoy Downtown Macon or listen to a band perform (Photographer Nate Weeks)

Many creative minds met up recently to discuss what the future of Macon's urban core might look like at NewTown Macon's Macon Action Plan (MAP) Open House.

The open house event also looked back at the 2015 Macon Action Plan (MAP) and the effect it had on the recent changes in the urban core of Macon, the area from Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park over to the Mercer campus.

The original MAP was described as a "community-driven planning process" that identified things that needed to be improved for the urban core of Macon.

MAP was a special project of the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority (UDA), the City of Macon, and their partners and was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Peyton Anderson Foundation. It was approved in October 2015 and focused on the next five years of development.

While at the Tubman African American Museum this week for the open house, attendees were invited to write down what they most wanted to developed soon in Macon's urban core. 

The following word cloud is composed of some of the suggestions for future development.

The most common suggestion was for a grocery store: two attendees wanted an Aldi grocery store in particular. Suggestions around food were also popular, including more healthy food. Other ideas included entertainment or supper clubs, a food court with authentic foods from other cultures, and a museum.

The following are more items that those in attendance wanted to see in the next few years:

  • Downtown Playground
  • Trader Joes
  • Capital support for black-owned businesses
  • Zero Waste Program
  • Activities for Seniors
  • Fill holes in the walls of the auditorium
  • No more dollar stores or gas stations
  • Downtown museum of art
  • Support historic neighborhoods from commercial infringement
  • More public art
  • Heritage Cultural Conservation
  • Address and fix the food dessert situation
  • No more lofts, more diverse businesses
  • Food co-op brick and mortar
  • Adult dance club
  • Study of existing vacant upper floors in historic buildings
  • Decent paying jobs
  • Authentic Spanish and Puerto Rican restaurants
  • More ethnic foods, less bar food
  • Skating Rink and updated community centers
  • Thai Food
  • Kid's museum
  • More handicapped spots
  • Outside café and picnic area at Tubman Museum and helping Tubman build out a kitchen to serve various chefs and people
  • Make more events at recreation centers that are already in place

Using suggestions from citizens at past events, NewTown Macon presented the suggestions they are focusing on making realities in and around Downtown Macon from 2022 to 2027.

NewTown Macon also reflected on the previous  areas chosen to focus on improving. Anyone who is familiar with the last five or so years of development around Downtown Macon will notice that many of NewTown's goals for development in the past five years were met.

The previous focuses by NewTown Macon included:

  • Downtown storefronts/businesses increased
  • Downtown "alive and fun", "coming back to life" with residents
  • Economic growth
  • Increased population density and people

NewTown Macon's focuses from now until 2027 include:

  • More green space, walking biking only
  • Pleasant Hill cleanup
  • Redevelop surface parking lots at the edge of downtown
  • Diverse offerings of retail
  • More affordable housing
  • Supporting National Park Visitation
  • More safe places/activities for young people
  • More shade trees, more kid-friendly spaces, dedicated shady bike lanes

Hopefully, the future of Macon's urban core will include more good food, fun entertainment, outside recreation opportunities, and educational museums (and perhaps less gas stations).

If you weren't able to make it to give your own input into the future of the urban core of Macon, you can still visit the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority's website to review the ideas already submitted and to give your own comments.

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This video from 2021 describes the 2020 Macon Action Plan Refresh and Downtown Challenge

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Cotton Avenue Plaza looks close to this artist rendition except for the statue, which is now in front of Rose Hill Cemetery (Graphic courtesy of the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority)
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