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Downtown Macon developers ask county for investment in hotel project

Developers for a big downtown Macon project are asking the county for more than $1 million to fix sidewalks and the storm drains near the construction sites.

MACON, Ga. — JR Olive with the Macon Arts Alliance works on First Street.

"You can't help but notice the construction," said Olive. 

He says the progress on Poplar Street excites him.

"If you're walking down the sidewalk and its empty and quiet, it doesn't seem like a place you want to be," said Olive.

He says Poplar Street remains fairly empty. The thought of two hotels and apartments means more heads in beds and more feet on the street.

RELATED: Investors ask Bibb County to build parking lots before new hotel, apartments on Poplar Street

RELATED: FIRST LOOK: See plans for major Poplar Street development in downtown Macon

Developers Miller Heath and Tim Thornton say to finish the project, they're asking Bibb County commissioners to spend more than $1 million from their SPLOST fund to improve the county's aging storm drainage system and the sidewalk.

"Hopefully, we will be closing on December 15th, and, hopefully, we will be starting construction or demolition shortly thereafter," said Heath. 

They say they need that to get downtown ready to handle those buildings and the people.

Commissioner Valerie Wynn supports the plan.

"Downtown is busy and growing and active, and that's what we want it to be because that means tax money coming into Macon," said Wynn. 

Now it's headed for a vote before the full commission, possibly next week.

"All of a sudden, people come who lived here their whole life, and they come downtown and it feels bustling and crowded," said Olive. 

Olive says this will draw in visitors from out of town and bring locals downtown more often. He says they're ready for it. 

Commissioners have already approved the Urban Development Authority borrowing $20 million to build two parking decks on Poplar Street and D.T. Walton Way in connection with the project. 

RELATED: Bibb commissioners approve bonds for parking decks

RELATED: Bibb taxpayers third in line to pay for $20 million bond for parking decks

The authority says right now they're still working out the finances.

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