Historic Macon to build park across from quadplex in Shirley Hills


This overgrown spot could house a new park built by Historic Macon pending government approval.

The intersection of Boulevard and Briarcliff Road is surprisingly quiet for a road so close to Gray Highway. A basketball hoop sits in the street, the tattered net resembling the condition of some of the old homes that surround it.

An old basketball goal sits in the street where kids usually have to play in this part of Shirley Hills.

This area lies on the edge of Shirley Hills, separate from many of the valuable houses that make up the neighborhood. This spot is home to many families in Macon with children that play in the street because they feel they have nowhere else to go. One section of overgrown land on the block, however, could change that in a big way.

Historic Macon plans to renovate the land at the intersection into a public park with a basketball goal and rest area for the Shirley Hills neighborhood. The park will be directly across from a quadplex that is being renovated into affordable housing by Historic Macon. 

“It would be great to have it right across the street,” said Chrissy Williams, a resident who lives directly across from where the park will be built. “I have a 7 year-old son. He’s autistic. It would be great to just be able to sit on the porch and watch him,” she said.

Williams and fellow Shirley Hills resident Charlene Moore weren’t aware of the park until told about it by The Macon Newsroom, but were positive about the work done in the area by Historic Macon.

“It’s all good, what they doing,” said Moore, who also lives just across from the potential park space. Moore thought Historic Macon’s work on the neighboring quadplex was good, so the park was a welcome surprise for her. “It’ll be good if they build a park too. That’s good,” she said.

Though the plans for the park are not finalized, Historic Macon asked for permission to use the land from Macon-Bibb County in a recent commission meeting. The park will give kids and families a safe place to play and, crucially, a new basketball goal away from the road according to Historic Macon.

“My son doesn’t play basketball but other kids do up there,” Williams said of the old hoop just up the road from where the park will be. “It’ll be cool.”

Both projects are part of Historic Macon’s efforts to help improve Shirley Hills. The process differs from the organization’s other work, according to Executive Director Ethiel Garlington.

“A lot of neighborhoods don’t need that full push,” Garlington said. “What they need is some strategic investment, some improvements, and just some love. We saw that at the intersection of Briarcliff and Boulevard.”

Historic Macon is not new to the area, as they have worked in Shirley Hills and the nearby North Highlands neighborhood in the past. The idea sprouted when Historic Macon learned about the vacant land and Macon-Bibb County claimed it in 2020. The organization looked at issues in the space surrounding the overgrown lot to decide if it could be used.

“As we’re working over there, we’re learning more about the neighborhood and we’re learning more about what the neighborhood needs. We all recognize this big piece of land right there,” Garlington said. “So we asked people in the community, you know, what places are important, what places are special to you, and this piece of land was tagged on this map.”

The piece of land, donated to Macon-Bibb County by Senator A.O. Bacon back in 1905, could not be used until it was claimed by the government. Former Mayor Robert Reichert and the commission claimed the land in November of 2020, leading to the potential for renovation by Historic Macon.

Historic Macon is renovating this quadplex directly across the street from where the park would be built.

Shirley Hills resident and Historic Macon board member Steven Fulbright doesn’t live across from where the park will be built but still feels the impact in the neighborhood.

“It’s very exciting because it’s up and coming, the mix is changing,” Fulbright said. “The most important thing is that it’s a communal space, that’s a space where everyone goes to commune with each other… I drive past that quadplex, too, and it’s really nice to see the progress on it.”

The park plans await approval in the coming months according to Historic Macon.