Whittle school upgrade; New homes on recession-stalled lots; Triangle Arts expands


Liz Fabian

The likeness of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg keeps watch at the Triangle Arts Center in Macon’s industrial sector.

Construction is set to resume on two west Bibb County neighborhoods underway during the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commissioners agreed Monday to engineer Steve Rowland’s requests to build on lots in Summer Grove Phase 2 at 2475 and 2569 Heath Road and Lochwolde in the 6100 block of Thomaston Road.

The second phase of Lockwolde includes 105 single-family homes and adds four commercial lots. Commissioners approved changes to the original plans including reducing minimum lot widths from 62 to 50 feet.

Three Oaks Construction & Development, which bought up the vacant lots in both neighborhoods, plans to extend Bohannon Drive to connect to Thomaston Road.

Rowland explained the change would give the neighborhood the second exit now required for public safety.

Three of the commercial lots, which were not part of the original plans, front Thomaston Road. The fourth faces Price Road.

Summer Grove’s Phase 2 will develop 22 acres over two parcels for a single-family detached homes of about 1,600 square feet in the cluster neighborhood.

The preliminary plan from 2007 included 115 lots with 14 acres of greenspace. The developer actually platted 62 lots with 6 acres of greenspace, but the project stopped with the downturn of the economy.

The new owner plans four different house plans on 46 lots.

Rowland adjusted the layout to better handle the topography and grade of the land.

Public safety vehicles could access the back of the neighborhood through the Fraternal Order of Police entrance, he said.

Both projects passed unanimously.

Telegraph Development LLC wants to build climate-controlled storage units in the basement and first floor of the old newspaper headquarters. (Liz Fabian)

Storage units approved for old Telegraph

Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commissioners also gave final approval for climate-controlled, self-storage units in the rear of the old Telegraph building at 112 Broadway.

Two weeks ago, commissioners amended the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution to allow storage units in existing buildings in downtown. The change stipulates the building must have been used before as a warehouse, production facility, or storage area for retail or commercial.

The measure did not allow for new storage facilities to be built or housed in retail storefronts in downtown.

Charles Stroud will construct about 150 climate-controlled units in the basement and first floor of the old newspaper headquarters built in 1961.

The building’s owners are looking for other tenants for the massive building on the corner of Riverside Drive and MLK Jr. Blvd.  Commissioners noted a restaurant on the plans, but Stroud said that was only a mockup of possibilities.

Stroud intends to renovate the back of the building facing MLK, which will serve as the entrance to the storage rental units.

Artist Scott Baston walks out of Triangle Arts Center with a visitor Monday afternoon. (Liz Fabian)

Triangle Arts expansion

An enclave of colorfully painted buildings is covering blight deep in the industrial sector.

Rick Geyer successfully appealed to P&Z Monday to create an art studio and entertainment space at 206 Lower Elm St.

In the dusty aftermath of the old Triangle Chemical Plant and past the abandoned Mathis Akins concrete plant, Geyer is claiming the industrial relics and ruins for fellow artists to embrace and reimagine.

Scott Baston, who is exploring his own creativity upon his return to his hometown of Macon, said the buildings provide a place for artists to thrive. He describes it as a mental therapy for the emotions.

“We have a laundry list of events ready to go. We just have to have the space, and here we are,” Baston said Monday afternoon, gesturing to the artwork all around him.

Metal portraits of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Mahatma Gandhi and Momma Louise of H&H fame pop up from the ground around the backlot perimeter.

Baston pointed out a painting on one of the buildings by an artist from Queens, New York.

Baston’s own artistic signature, PaPa Pea Pod, graced another niche on the property as he showed a visitor the grounds.

Baston believes the center will be an attraction for Macon.

“I want to make sure other people know we’re not just an armpit stop on the way to Florida,” he said.

During the P&Z meeting, Commissioner Gary Bechtel said he was glad someone was using that space.

“Thank you for reinvigorating that area,” Bechtel told Geyer.

“We’re doing our best,” Geyer replied.

Attorney Virgil Adams said landscape architect Wimberly Treadwell is giving his law firm “curb appeal.” The Adams, Jordan & Herrington law firm is moving into the old Whittle School Building the firm recently purchased from the Urban Development Authority.

Makeover for Macon’s oldest elementary school

To the right of Coleman Hill sits an elaborate brick building overlooking Spring Street and the lane known as Hill Park.

Dating back to 1892, the Whittle School Building is Bibb County’s oldest remaining elementary school and will soon become home to the law firm of Adams, Jordan and Herrington.

The lawyers purchased the building, which was renovated in the 80s with help from the Macon Heritage Foundation, now known as Historic Macon and the Urban Development Authority.

Monday, P&Z signed off on architect Wimberly Treadwell’s plans to redo the landscaping, make safety improvements to the property and erect a sign.

“Wimberly’s going to give us some curb appeal,” attorney Virgil Adams said upon leaving last week’s Design Review Board meeting where the plans were approved.

The firm hopes to have interior renovations complete and relocate from their Mulberry Street offices later this year.

Other Items

635 Riverside Drive – Barks-n-Brews dog park owner Kate Lambert will be allowed to use a modified shipping container for a four-stall restroom. Lambert originally planned to build bathrooms but the rising cost of materials was “pretty astronomical,” Lambert told the Design Review Board last week.

4652 Ayers Road – P&Z granted Covenant Academy permission to build a canopy over an outside basketball court. In 2019, the commission approved a baseball field at the school, but that project was shelved.

830 High Street – Commission approved Wimberly Treadwell’s request to put a hanging side on the corner of the renovated building behind the H&H Restaurant.

3010 Riverside DriveFive Star Dodge Associates secured approval to expand the old Jackson Oldsmobile building at the corner of Wimbish Road. The makeover for the Hyundai dealership will expand the showroom out to the existing pillars and extend the overhang. Commissioners also approved a variance in the setback from the right of way for the project.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities. Contact her at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.