Downtown Challenge winners announced

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Community Foundation of Central Georgia announced its second round of funded projects from the Downtown Challenge. The winners have submitted various ideas that could make downtown Macon a better place.

The Peyton Anderson Foundation and the John S. and James L Knight Foundation gave three million dollars. The Downtown Challenge Fund of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia chose the winners.

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Alex Leahy, Program Officer of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, said “We want to be able to create momentum and see individuals get engaged in their community and make things happen to make a difference in their community.”

The organization hopes to transform downtown into a place where more people and businesses will want to call Downtown Macon home.

Here is the list of winners.

  1. Health Care Incubator, $40,000: Mercer University’s Innovation Center will be able to support two early stage medical device and health IT start-ups with equity investments of up to $20,000 in exchange for intellectual property with this grant. The idea meets a need in 1.1 (a) of MAP to promote an Urban Core Health District.
  1. Macon Bike Biz, $9,500: Bike Walk Macon will take the initiative to accommodate customers who travel by bicycle to various businesses in the Urban Core by adding new bike racks. Businesses who participate in the program will provide incentives to patrons who arrive on bike. The idea meets a need in 1.2 (e) of MAP to promote customer attraction.
  1. The Velocity Accelerator, $25,000: Georgia Crowdfund will launch the nation’s first non-profit transient accelerator that seeks start-ups from across the region to participate in a 12-week intense business intensive. Participants must move to Macon or open a satellite location in the Urban Core. The idea meets a need in 1.3 (a) of MAP to embrace and support start-up culture.


The second round of projects supporting the “Experience” funding priority are:

  1. Downtown Tree Lights, $8,000: The Urban Development Authority (UDA) will buy and install string lights in trees along Cherry Street and Cotton Avenue and across streets, where possible, building on current streetscape efforts and helping retail establishments. The idea meets a need in 2.1 (a) of MAP to enhance the comfort and appeal of the urban core’s public realm with expanded streetscaping efforts.
  2. Removal of Abandoned and Blighted Signs, $10,000: The Main Street Macon Design Committee will work with the County, businesses and a private contractor to remove abandoned, out-of-date and blighted signs. The idea meets a need in 2.1 (a) of MAP to enhance the comfort and appeal of the urban core’s public realm with expanded streetscaping efforts.
  3. Installation of recycling and trash receptacles in Downtown Macon, $45,000: Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful will install 30 recycling stations and 30 trash receptacles in downtown. The idea meets a need in 2.1 (b) of MAP to introduce additional trash, recycling, and maintenance efforts.
  1. Cotton Avenue Plaza, $20,000: NewTown Macon will host a two-day, pop-up pedestrian plaza on Cotton Avenue. The space will be activated by temporarily closing part of Cotton Avenue and adding outdoor seating, landscaping and yard games. The idea meets a need in 2.2 (b) of MAP to improve and expand open spaces in the urban core to create a central gathering space.
  2. Poplar Yards: Phase II – Master Plan, $25,000: Using designs created by University of Georgia students who attended the Poplar Yards Charrette in August the Middle Section of the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, along with local stakeholders, will develop a Master Plan for Poplar Yards. The idea meets a need in 2.2 (b) of MAP to improve and expand open spaces in the urban core to create a central gathering space.
  3. High Street Park- Urban Park Renovation, $42,000: First Baptist Church and their community partners will improve High Street Park through the elimination of the cross street leading to St. Joseph’s School, the addition of sidewalks, benches, trashcans, thoughtful landscaping and construction of an amphitheater as a centerpiece. The idea meets a need in 2.2 (b) of MAP to improve and expand open spaces in the urban core to create a central gathering space.
  4. Riverside Drive Scoping Study, $85,000: The Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning Department will work with a design firm to develop a streetscape improvement plan for Riverside Drive from MLK Jr. Blvd. to Madison Street. This plan will include a greenway and intersection safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians. The idea meets a need in 2.2 (c) of MAP to integrate the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail as a key downtown amenity.
  5. Macon’s Haunted History, $2,500: Historic Macon will collect ghost stories from Macon’s urban core and curate them into a guided walking tour, which will speak of Macon’s mysterious, compelling past. The idea meets a need in 2.3 (a) of MAP to maintain support for existing events and add new events.
  6. Macon’s Industrial Heritage Bike Tour Brochure and Unveiling, $4,000: Historic Macon will host a free trolley tour event of Macon’s industrial district to unveil the self-guided bike tour brochure. The idea meets a need in 2.3 (a) of MAP to maintain support for existing events and add new events.
  7. Wintervention – Glow in the Dark Social and Dance Party, $3,900: Mainstreet Macon will host a family-friendly winter social under the bridge on Poplar Street between 5th and 6th Street. Blacklights, glow sticks, bright colors and glow-in-the dark face paint will be provided to everyone, as well as heaters to keep everyone warm. The idea meets a need in 2.3 (a) of MAP to maintain support for existing events and add new events.
  1. Reviving the Cotton Avenue Revival Festival, $10,000: Historic Macon Foundation has connected with elected officials, church leaders, and business owners in the neighborhood to revitalize the unique Cotton Avenue Revival Festival, along one of Macon’s most historic streets. The idea meets a need in 2.3 (a) of MAP to maintain support for existing events and add new events.
  2. Tubman African Drum Circle, $11,000: The Tubman African American Museum will purchase drums and begin hosting the Tubman Drum Circle every second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. in front of the Tubman Museum on Cherry Street. Two Master African drummers will teach musical drum classes. The idea meets a need in 2.3 (a) of MAP to maintain support for existing events and add new events.
  3. Shovel-Ready Clinton Street, $19,200: The UDA will hire a civil engineer to create construction ready plans for the Clinton Street Park based on schematic designs, with a public process, to be shovel-ready for SPLOST or other potential funding sources. The idea meets a need in 2.4 (b) of MAP to capitalize on local institutions and assets as gateways to the Urban Core.
  1. Downtown Gateway Signage Plan, $ 10,000: NewTown Macon will facilitate the creation of strategic gateway signage design plans for Downtown Macon. The idea meets a need in 2.5 (a) of MAP to brand Macon’s Urban Core.

The second round of projects supporting the “Living” funding priority are:

  1. Maconites: The Stories of Our People, $5,700: Lead by Susannah Maddux, Maconites will tell the story of our city through the people who live here. In a similar format to Humans of New York, special highlighted stories of Maconites will be posted on a website, Instagram and Facebook. The idea meets a need in 3.1 (c) of MAP to welcome new residents as members of a close-knit community.
  2. Downtown Housing for Mercer Innovation Center Fellows, $24,000: As the Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) creates a culture of entrepreneurship on campus and fuels start-up activity in Macon, this project will provide housing for two MIC fellows within the boundaries of downtown as defined in the Macon Action Plan. The idea meets a need in 3.1 (c) of MAP to welcome new residents as members of a close-knit community.
  3. Neighborhood Sign, $5,000: After the “Welcome to Fort Hawkins Neighborhood: Birthplace of Macon’” sign was destroyed a few months ago in a car accident, the Macon Arts Alliance and its partners will create a new sign in the same location at Main and Hydrolia Streets. The idea meets a need in 3.3 (c) of MAP to revitalize East Macon’s Main Street Neighborhood.
  1. Clinton Street Entrance to Ocmulgee National Monument, $8,000: This grant to the UDA will fund the completion of the Clinton Street aluminum pedestrian gate and vinyl coated vehicular gate for the entrance into the Ocmulgee National Monument at Clinton Street. The idea meets a need in 3.3 (c) of MAP to revitalize East Macon’s Main Street Neighborhood.

The second round of projects supporting the “Connectivity” funding priority are:

  1. Bike Repairs Stations, $2,200: NewTown Macon will purchase and install two Dero Fixit bike repair stations in public areas of Downtown Macon. The idea meets a need in 4.3 (b) of MAP to improve bicycle infrastructure.