NewTown Macon Press Release 1/3/23: New Multi-Use Project Will Add 95 Downtown Macon Lofts
NEW MULTI-USE PROJECT WILL TRANSFORM TWO CITY BLOCKS AND ADD 95 DOWNTOWN LOFTS
Macon, GA –Local developer Robbo Hatcher plans to build a new mixed-use project in the heart of downtown Macon. The proposed development will result in a new four-story, 107,000+ square foot structure that will house 95 luxury loft apartments, three retail storefronts, and nine “Executive Offices” in the location of the former Neel’s department store and Blair’s Furniture buildings on Cherry Street and Third Street.
In August of 2020, Neel’s Lofts, LLC acquired the Neel’s and Blair’s buildings in the block bordered by Cherry and Third Streets in downtown Macon. Prior to purchasing the two buildings, the Hatcher family worked with Historic Macon Foundation to try to develop a qualifying historic tax-credit project that would save the buildings. However, the building facades are younger than 1948 and do not qualify for historic tax credits, making the adaptive re-use project cost prohibitive. The Hatcher family worked closely with Historic Macon to determine other options, such as listing the mid-century modern buildings individually in the National Register of Historic Places to qualify for historic tax credits. After analyzing and exhausting all options for historic tax credits financing with the support of Historic Macon, the project will move forward with the demolition of the two non-contributing buildings and the construction of a new structure.
“This will activate one of the last major vacancies in NewTown’s target blocks,” said Josh Rogers, President and CEO of NewTown Macon. “I cannot stress enough how positive this will be for downtown.”
The successful completion and leasing of the Dannenberg Lofts in 2015 proved the demand for loft-style residential units in downtown Macon. Since then, more than 650 new residential units have been built in the urban core. According to NewTown Macon, the current occupancy is effectively 100% and there is a waiting list to find a downtown loft. According to a 2019 feasibility study performed for NewTown Macon by Zimmerman Volk, downtown Macon can absorb 200 lofts per year. The delivered supply since 2019 has never approached the 200 mark, indicating a continuing and pent-up demand for more lofts. This project will help meet that demand for the first time in the history of downtown’s loft development and provide much-needed housing for the Middle Georgia region’s growing population.
Members of the Neel family have expressed their excitement that the family name will continue on in downtown Macon as the name for the loft development. Dunwody Beeland and Brannen Parks are the architects for the project and Piedmont Construction Group is the Design-Build Construction Manager. Both firms have extensive experience in multi-use projects of this scope and have successfully completed projects in the Macon market. Robins Financial Credit Union has financed the project and Robbo Hatcher will serve as the developer. NewTown Macon is an equity partner and the Urban Development Authority is supporting the project through its PILOT program.
“We do not take lightly the demolition of a building in downtown Macon,” said Robbo Hatcher, the project developer and Macon native. “I remember shopping in Neel’s growing up, but the store has been closed for 30 years and the building has been vacant for almost a decade. We believe this project will breathe new life into a block that sorely needs new energy.”
Pending approval by Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning Commission on January 9, 2023, the developers plan to invite the public to a ceremony to acknowledge the history of the previous buildings and celebrate the future of the new development.