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'A shot in the arm for East Macon': Community members react to $350M development

People who have lived in the neighborhood for decades say this could bring restaurants, stores, and new jobs that the area needs.

MACON, Ga. — Folks in east Macon say they're looking forward to a new hotel, shops and restaurants that could be coming to town. 

Tuesday, Bibb commissioners moved forward with a plan to buy more than 21 acres of land on Coliseum Drive just across the street from the Centreplex. 

It's where the old Bibb Mill used to stand before it burned down this past March. 

Blight and rubble are the first thing folks see when they get off the interstate. People who have lived here for decades say that's not the image they want of east Macon. But, county officials say that could be changing with an estimated $350 million dollar development. 

"This is terrible. This is what you see when you first enter Macon. Over here, that's terrible," said Herbert Dennard looking at the property. 

A pile of charred bricks is what was left behind after the old Bibb Mill burned in March. It now stands next to blighted and abandoned warehouses.

People worried this would add to the structures abandoned and forgotten in east Macon.

But now, the county says they want to turn it around, investing $14 million into buying the site off Coliseum Drive and placing a development that will include a new hotel, condos and apartments. 

"This is a shot in the arm of economic development for east Macon," said Barbara Neeley. 

Maybe what folks are most excited for is finally getting restaurants in this part of town. 

"Let's say I wanted to go to a very nice restaurant. I'd have to go across town," Neeley said.

"No decent restaurants in east Macon," Dennard said. 

The development is also expected to bring jobs-- something folks say have slowly left east Macon.

"They were really removed because businesses were opening up in other parts of Macon-Bibb," Neeley said. 

"Jobs coming in, decent paying jobs, I think that would improve not only East Macon but all of Macon," Dennard said. 

Commissioner Elaine Lucas says as the county sorts out details, she and Commissioner Paul Bronson will hold at least two town halls, informing folks about what's going on. No word on when those meetings will be. 

The next step is finding a developer. 

Mayor Lester Miller says three developers have already contacted them today.

The county hopes to close on the property by January.

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