New AirBnB and lofts in downtown Macon; Concerns over Vineville laundry


Liz Fabian

A P&Z sign in the window marks the location of new AirBnB units at 350 Second Street being proposed through a partnership with NewTown Macon.

Out of town guests or Maconites wanting a night on the town will have a new Air BnB in the heart of downtown.

Monday, the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to approve construction of nine lodging units at 350 Second Street, near the alley across from Cotton Avenue Plaza.

Architect Bob Brown presented the proposal that includes a small private bar area with outside patio and a roof-top deck at the Design Review Board’s meeting last Monday.

“I love it,” review board chairman Chris Clark said.

“I think it’s going to be awesome,” Brown replied. “It’s a great use for the building.”

The board approved the project and P&Z commissioners are set to ratify it at their upcoming meeting.

Plans call for five rooms on the first floor with the small bar and four rooms on the second story.

“Two rooms on back have a small balcony to give them a little more extra punch,” Brown said as he went over the plans.

Behind the buildings, that portion of the alley stretching to the Hargray Capitol Theatre will be gated off. Bathrooms will be built near the bar and a private stairway will lead to the second floor deck.

Old office space in the building will be converted to bedrooms with private baths in the project funded by Second Street LLC, a joint partnership with NewTown Macon and Griffith Downtown Investment.

Josh Rogers, CEO of NewTown, said the venture is a first of its kind for NewTown, which primarily has been on the lending side of downtown projects.

“It just made sense for us to be partners on this one,” Rogers said Thursday afternoon.

NewTown Macon also is partnering with contractors to build lofts in the old Karsten Denson hardware store on Third Street and the former Telegraph building at Cherry and Second streets. (Liz Fabian)

NewTown also recently partnered with Ashok Patel to build lofts in the old Karsten Denson hardware store location at 536 Third Street and joined forces with Ryan Griffin on 596 Cherry Street, the former Telegraph building at the corner of Second Street.

That old pink stucco building will have four residential lofts and two store fronts, while the hardware store property will include 30 lofts and three retail locations, Rogers said.

“It just snowballs. Somebody walks in the door with an idea and then you just figure out how to get it done,” Rogers said. “It’s what keeps it fun.”

Despite the pandemic, Rogers noted there is a lot still going on downtown.

At the corner of Poplar and Second, Randy and Sherri Goss are building a two-story private residence with retail space on the ground floor of the existing three-story brick building that housed the old Exchange Pharmacy.

In the early 1900s, the building was a boarding house with eight bedrooms on the upper floors, Randy Goss said.

“It had eight fireplaces and when we’re finished, we’ll have five open fireplaces,” he said. “We’re keeping a lot of the charm of the old building.”

Goss believes they will be the only working fireplaces in downtown.

Brown is the architect for their new home which will have two bedrooms, two and a half baths and a rooftop garden hidden from view by the façade that extends 6 feet beyond the roof line.

The old Yellow Cab building burned twice during an arson spree in downtown Macon in 2002. (Liz Fabian)

Brown also went before the Design Review Board for the couple’s planned garage in the burned-out Yellow Cab Company building that remains a charred brick shell after two fires in 2002.

The Design Review Board excitedly signed off on the garage project and has recommended it for ratification from the full commission Monday.

“Don’t you love the idea it goes from a taxi stand into a garage? I think it’s going to be something really cool,” Brown said.

“I think it is a great use of what has become sort of an eyesore in there,” Clark said.

Design Review board member David Thompson agreed.

“Looking forward to anything, but this looks great,” Thompson said. “Great idea. It really is.”

Randy Goss said they are not only keeping part of the taxi stand, they plan an addition.

“We want to build up from there and create bookends on the block so it will look a little like the old Exchange Pharmacy,” he said.

Proposed Vineville laundromat prompts concerns

The Design Review Board deferred a decision on a proposed laundromat at 1990 Vineville Ave. after concerns about the design and traffic safety. (Liz Fabian)

The Design Review Board deferred ruling on a proposed laundromat at the corner of Holt and Vineville avenues.

Ashok Patel wants to demolish a little less than half of the 3,400-square-foot-building and build a new laundromat on the property.

Chairman Clark was concerned about the design which calls for new brick veneer on the front facing Holt but leaving the existing metal panels on the sides and rear.

“Typically when you have something that’s changing this much, the finished metal panels would need to be covered,” Clark said.

Board member Carrie Robinson agreed that the building needs attention.

“This is such an eyesore as it is. And it’s such a gateway into downtown from the northside. I think that we need to be very mindful of the appearance coming into town,” Robinson said.

Nearby neighbors, Karen and Jay Palmer who bought the old American Red Cross building on Holt, also objected to the metal building sides and lack of landscaping buffer in their sight line.

“That whole (back) side is metal and completely deteriorated and has been that way for quite some time. If that continues to stay that way it would fail so quickly,” Karen Palmer said.

They also noted that the design submitted indicated trees were already on the property.

“They’re all scrub trees. There’s really nothing of any value to keep. There’s dead limbs that are hanging,” Karen Palmer said.

Her husband said that when they were still tourists walking to the Allman Brothers Big House Museum, the condition of that building gave them pause.

“It really is jarring when you go up and down the street and come across the corner,” Jay Palmer said. “We want it to look good. We’re excited a change is proposed here but we really want to make sure it’s a pleasing aesthetic.”

The review board also raised concerns about the traffic flow along the busy thoroughfare and wanted to allow for more time for the proposal to be studied and allow Patel to revise his design and submit a landscaping plan.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected].