MACON – Mercer University, along with the College Hill Alliance and Macon-Bibb County, held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday afternoon to mark the beginning of construction on the University's latest student lofts project.
The Lofts at Mercer will be located across Mercer University Drive from Mercer Stadium. The complex, which is set to be completed in summer 2016, will include apartment-style student housing, first-floor office space for the University and a large parking deck. Additionally, a signature pedestrian bridge over Mercer University Drive is being partly funded by Macon-Bibb County as a component of the Second Street Corridor revitalization project.
A new hotel and restaurants are slated for the block adjacent to The Lofts at Mercer, across Mercer University Drive from the Hilton Garden Inn where the former Noland plumbing warehouse is located. Details about that new development will be announced at a later date.
"It is hard not to get excited about what this intersection will look like in 16 months – a new 300-student housing complex, 14,000 square feet of University offices, a parking deck for 400 vehicles, a brand-name hotel, restaurants and a signature pedestrian bridge across Mercer University Drive that will connect all of it to campus," said Mercer President William D. Underwood. "Coupled with the Second Street Corridor project, we will have an impressive new gateway to downtown Macon and to Mercer from Interstate 75. It once again shows what a compelling vision and committed partners can accomplish for our community."
"With the support of the public when they approved the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, we began a major project to connect our community from East Macon to the neighborhoods on the other side of I-75," said Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert A.B. Reichert. "With partnerships such as the one we're celebrating today, we will see the project completed even sooner, helping to revitalize our entire city."
The Lofts at Mercer are being built by Macon-based commercial development firm Sierra Development, which constructed Phases I, II and III of the Lofts at Mercer Village, as well as The Lofts at College Hill that will open behind the U.S. Post Office on College Street in fall 2015.
"This fifth phase of the lofts will be larger than Phases I, II and III combined," said Jim Daws, president of Sierra Development. "We are confident that the impact on the campus and the city will be as great – if not greater – than the impact of the development in Mercer Village."
When construction of The Lofts at Mercer is complete, more than 800 beds of student housing will have been added to the Macon campus since 2011, with a combined investment of more than $100 million in the five lofts projects and hotel-restaurant development.
About the Second Street Corridor
The Second Street Corridor redevelopment and revitalization project is funded by the voter-approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). Eight million dollars was designated to improve the area that stretches from East Macon through Downtown, connecting to Little Richard Penniman Boulevard and Mercer University Drive, and creating a gateway into Macon at the I-75/Mercer University Drive interchange.
Macon-Bibb County recently completed the first major milestone of this project by reopening the block between Cherry and Poplar Streets with improved lighting and sidewalks, landscaping, bike lanes, reverse angle parking, and more. The creation of Mid-City Square, a new park to be located at the intersection of Second and Pine Streets, is currently underway. Additionally, designs are nearing completion for and work will soon begin on the bridge that will connect Second Street with Little Richard Penniman Boulevard. Long-term, Macon-Bibb County wants to extend the Corridor further west along Mercer University Drive to the Macon Mall and Middle Georgia State College.
About the College Hill Alliance
Initially established with a grant to Mercer University from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2009, the College Hill Alliance assists the community in creating positive change to the physical, social and economic fabric of the College Hill Corridor, a two-square mile area between Mercer's campus and Macon, Georgia's downtown business district. Today, the internationally recognized economic development project has leveraged over $100 million in urban renewal, entrepreneurship, arts, neighborhood growth and entertainment. For more information, contact Jessica Walden at the College Hill Alliance: 478.621.4420 / firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit collegehillmacon.com.