East Macon Arts Village open house to showcase Mill Hill renovations

If houses were teeth, east Macon would be sporting a new grin atop Mill Hill.

Renovations are complete in seven homes that are part of the East Macon Arts Village off of Main Street near Coliseum Drive.

“That neighborhood is going to be a success story,” Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority Chairman Chris Sheridan said at last week’s meeting. “It’s going to surprise a lot of people.”

Before consolidating with the city of Macon, the Bibb County Commission contributed $2 million to tackle blight and spruce up the area, Sheridan said.

“When they see what we’ve done, they’ll be blown away,” he said.

The public will have the opportunity to tour the half-dozen homes currently for sale Saturday from 1-4 p.m. during the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration at the neighboring Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. 

Macon Arts Alliance, which led the restoration of the Mill Hill Community Arts Center, expects a lot of traffic coming down Clinton Street to the side entrance of the park during the event.

“It’s the first time we’re really advertising and opening the houses we have available,” said J.R. Olive, the Mill Hill project director. 

Additional parking for the Native American festival will be available near the center.

In recent days, landscaping and new sod has been laid around the completed houses between Schell Avenue and Hydrolia Street.  

The homes have been rehabbed to fit the affordability standards of the area. UDA executive director Alex Morrison said prices range between $90,000 – $120,000 based on square footage.

“I think people haven’t seen it and will really get to appreciate what we’re doing,” Morrison said.

Signs are up on the available properties in the project, which is part of the Macon Action Plan unveiled in 2015. Historic Macon has also assisted in the rehabilitation of the houses.

The concept is to have a thriving community of artists who will live and work in the neighborhood that’s anchored by the restored community center. 

The Arts Alliance is offering down payment assistance for the first two home buyers who are artists, Olive said, although the houses can be sold to the general public.

“We need to sell a couple of these before we move on,” he said.

The Alliance reserves one of the renovated homes for visiting artists in residence and has filed grant applications to fund additional artists after the most recent residents left last month, Olive said.

Proceeds from the sale of the properties will be used to continue work on three other houses the authority owns and purchase one more when it becomes available. 

The authority also expects to secure grant funding to complete a large park that’s been cleared from Olive to Main streets. Buildings on the property were razed to create the green space.

“The park along Clinton Street is very unfinished but gets a lot of compliments because it’s green and pretty,” Morrison said.

The authority envisions the East Macon Arts Village as a gateway to a future downtown  entrance to the recently expanded national park. The project aims to breathe new life into the Fort Hawkins neighborhood, home of Macon’s first settlers.

Information from The Telegraph archives contributed to this report. Contact CCJ Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Jarvis Fabian at [email protected] or phone 478-301-2976.

Liz Fabian
Rehabilitated homes are now for sale in the East Macon Arts Village that is designed to be a haven for artists off Clinton Street near Main Street.
Liz Fabian
The Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority plans to take proceeds from the sale of East Macon Arts Village homes and purchase and restore other properties on Schell Avenue.
Liz Fabian
A half-dozen renovated homes are now for sale in the East Macon Arts Village atop Mill Hill near Main Street.
Liz Fabian
A new park is being developed as part of the East Macon Arts Village that the Urban Development Authority wants to use as a gateway to a new downtown entrance to the recently expanded Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park.