The backside of downtown Macon could look very different this time next year thanks to a more than $4 million development coming to Sixth Street.

Merlin Sapp says he walks along Macon’s Sixth Street every Sunday.

“More people would come down here if the surroundings were a little bit better,” said Sapp.

Sapp says he normally does not bump into many other walkers, but he says that could soon change thanks to a new development.

“I think there would be more people out here walking or just out doing whatever and not worried about it being so dark and gloomy,” said Sapp.

A Macon developer is taking one of the old buildings along Sixth Street and turning it into 27 lofts and retail space.

One of the architects, Matt Widner, says the development will go along Sixth Street from Poplar Street to Cherry Street. He says they chose the building mainly because of the location.

“[It] bridges nicely with Central City Park and the new baseball team… the energy that’s being created down at Central City Park,” said Widner.

Widner says the development encroaches on county property by more than half an acre.

“Now we have to add stairs off the front of the building and are adding sidewalks and other amenities to the street to add better use of the mixed use space,” said Widner.

The county could agree to drop encroachment fees if the developers make improvements along Sixth Street.

Widner says if the county agrees, they would make adding sidewalks and street lighting a top priority.

He says by adding sidewalks here they are hoping to connect Sixth Street to the rest of downtown Macon.

A change Sapp says could make his walks safer and bring more people to the area.

“I just think it’s moving forward in a better way,” said Sapp.

This agreement still needs approval from the full commission at the next meeting. If they agree, the developers have three years to make the street improvements.