MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – If you’ve driven down Eisenhower Parkway, you’ve probably seen the remnant of where the old Piggly Wiggly, Target, Home Depot, and Office Depot once were.
The Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority plans to fill vacant businesses and industrial buildings. The Industrial Authority’s Macon Bright program’s goal is to turn the vacant buildings into new businesses.
During Tuesday’s committee meeting, commissioners approved $25 million in bonds to renovate blighted businesses.
“A lot of people hardly come to this area anymore because of all the businesses closing and going out further,” Salads 2 Go owner Tasha Williams said.
Since opening nearly five years ago, she said there’s a difference in revenue.
“Before they closed down, we had a lot more, but now since they closed businesses it’s still good but not as good as when we had all those businesses,” Williams said.
The Macon Bright program aims to entice developers to invest in the community and blighted businesses.
The program offers a property tax freeze up to five years while developers renovate the property.
“During that time we actually freeze the property tax during this period of time of renovation,” Industrial Authority Chairman Robby Fountain said.
After the tax freeze, Fountain says the property value will double.
“This can go from Shurling Drive to Gray Highway, to West Gate, to north Macon,” he said.
Fountain says the Industrial Authority knows they need to identify the needs of Eisenhower Parkway where big box stores once were.
“You have to understand, retail is driven by population and where the people are. That’s where they’re going to go to,” Fountain said.
The $25 million bond won’t cost taxpayers anything.
According to Fountain, developers won’t fully own the property until they fulfill their obligation by renovating the building. For vacant businesses to qualify, the building needs to be current on property taxes.
The bond is available, but it’s on a first come first serve basis. Fountain says if the program is successful, they’ll have to ask for more bonds from the county.