Two groups presented their visions to revitalize downtown Macon Thursday night. Several community members and volunteers packed the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame to hear their thoughts.
The Urban Development Authority and a team of panelists selected the two finalists for the project: K2 Urban Designs and Interface Studio. The winner will be charged with designing and implementing a master plan for Macon's urban core.
"The leadership in the community really needs to be on the same page for this to work," says Kevin Klinkenberg with K2 Urban Designs. "The second thing is we have a real depth of expertise about what will work and what won't, and the third thing is really the ability to craft a compelling and long-term vision that people can own and be excited about."
He and his team have had a hand in developing other areas like Savannah, Augusta, as well as Montgomery, Alabama. He says though he hasn't spent much time in Macon yet, some of his team members have. He also says he can bring an open mind and objective view to the project.
Meanwhile, Scott Page with Interface Studio touted his team's work with the College Hill master plan and other developments around Macon.
"Downtown Macon needs synergy. We need more activity on the streets. We need more businesses. We need more programming. We need more people living downtown, and all of those things connected to College Hill and the historic neighborhoods nearby," says Page.
Both groups, along with the UDA, agree they won't get anywhere without help from the community.
"The purpose of having these people here is to take all of the plans that have been developed over the years and really come up with a strategy to implement them, and that just cannot happen unless the whole community is involved and engaged," says UDA Chair Chris Sheridan.
He says now it's up to the community to help decide which group is right for the job. The UDA is inviting people to review both presentations and submit their thoughts on their website.
The group selected will have a year to complete their master plan. Their work is funded by a joint donation from the Peyton Anderson and Knight foundations.