823 Forsyth St
This collection of buildings has a powerful tale to tell and thanks to the strategic partnership of Virgil Adams and Brian Adams, its history will be revived through this transformative historic rehabilitation. This structure was erected in 1900 and immediately emerged as a fixture on Macon’s Black Wall Street. During segregation and the Jim Crow era, Cotton Avenue was the epicenter for thriving Black-owned businesses and this location was a premier location as it was anchored by three historic black churches: First Baptist, Steward Chapel, and Tremont Temple.
Mr. Albert Billingslea, a well-known contractor, entrepreneur, politician, and civil rights leader owned this property for several decades and one of the six storefronts remained as his office until his passing in 2011. Mr. Billingslea was very influential in Macon’s growth and development, especially as it relates to the Black community. As homage to Mr. Billingsea’s legacy, this developer duo is unapologetically committed to restoring this property to its best and highest use. Soon, these newly rehabilitated historic buildings will transform this section of Forsyth Street and create an attractive gateway into downtown Macon.
Once complete, this development will include six commercial storefronts and six 1 and 2 bedroom lofts on the upper floor. If interested in leasing information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Adams Squared, LLC
807 Forsyth St
Downtown Macon is more colorful thanks to this stunning new mural at H&H. The mural, painted by Steven Teller, depicts H&H Soul Food’s original owners: Inez Hill, affectionately known as Mama Hill, and Louise Hudson, known as Mama Louise. Pictured with the leading ladies is the Allman Brothers Band. Legend has it that Mama Louise fed the band before they became famous. The band came to H&H one day and could only afford two plates to split between the band members, but Mama Louise fed them anyway. Over the years, the band became friends with Mama Louise, earning her the name “The Mother of Southern Rock.”
It took Teller six weeks of 12-hour days, working in all weather conditions, to complete the mural. Dozens of community members gathered in February to celebrate the completion of the mural and the history it represents. During the dedication, Mayor Lester Miller declared February 11 as Mama Louise Day for her contributions to Macon’s culinary scene and the birth of Southern Rock.
Take a photo in the 360 photo booth with this now iconic mural. Downtown Diversity Initiative graduate and winner, Tiffany Minter, is providing the photobooth today through her business Instamajic Photobooth.
And be sure to check out Steven Teller Arts’ Instagram for photos and videos of the process.
“Macon's H&H Restaurant unveils mural in honor of 'Mama Louise,' 'Mama Hill,' and Allman Brothers” by Kaleb Martin. 13WMAZ. February 12, 2022. https://www.13wmaz.com/article/news/local/macons-hh-restaurant-unveils-mural-in-honor-of-mama-louise-mama-hill-and-allman-brothers-2/93-6f03f854-1bd9-443c-89d4-e8a575b24c3f
830 High St
Welcome to 830 High, downtown Macon’s newest co-working space. Owner and developer, Wimberly Treadwell, is a landscape architect by trade in addition to being an entrepreneur and developer. Wimberly initially rehabilitated this structure that was built in 1900 as a professional office with a single tenant. After the first tenant moved out, she converted it into a flexible workspace open to members looking to get out of their home offices and into a collaborative environment. Workspaces feature exposed brick, original plaster, high ceilings, large windows, and concrete and hardwood floors. Be sure to visit on a First Friday to gallery shows featuring local artists.
Learn more from Wimberly about why she decided to open this communal workspace. Watch the video below then step inside –this stop is open for tours!
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Welcome to the proposed site of the DT Walton Housing Complex! Macon-Bibb County and the Urban Development Authority have partnered to turn this publicly-owned, under-utilized surface lot into housing, parking, and retail space. The vacant parking lot you see across the street will be the site of a mixed-used new construction project that will add approximately 100 new loft units and a new parking deck to the downtown area. This project represents the County’s commitment to downtown Macon and ensuring it plays an active role in purposeful development of the urban core.
This pivotal project will ensure that the vacant land you see is developed for its highest and best use. The Urban Development Authority issued a request for proposals for developing this property and selected Macon-based Piedmont Construction Group to complete the project.
According to a residential study commissioned by NewTown, downtown Macon can absorb 200 market-rate residential units annually. This development will help meet the surging demand for downtown housing and advance NewTown’s new strategic plan goal of adding 350 more loft units in the Central Business District in the next five years.
Plus it adds more businesses and parking to the downtown area –something we can all appreciate and enjoy!
527 DT Walton Sr Way
Early last year, downtown Macon became home to one of the fastest-growing recreational activities – ROCK CLIMBING!
Welcome to the Macon Rocks Climbing Gym (we love a great Macon pun). This state-of-the-art facility was a labor of love for co-owners Bryan Nichols and Kevin Reaves. Their mutual passion for downtown’s revitalization, coupled with their vision of downtown having family-friendly activities and spaces, was the critical combination to complete this ambitious preservation project.
Their idea to bring this burgeoning activity to downtown started nearly seven years ago, but securing a location with the proper specs proved to be a challenge. Originally, this property was home to the administrative offices of Capricorn Records, but with some creative design work, adding a second floor, and a whole lot of faith, these gentlemen restored these buildings to an unconventional, but highly creative, purpose. No more dusty desks and yellow-filmed paper, instead we have a recreational treasure and the first of its kind in Central Georgia.
Thanks to Bryan and Kevin’s unmatched vision, patience, and commitment, Macon Rocks is here for us to enjoy! Haven’t been rock climbing yet? Don’t know what to expect? No problem. Macon Rocks has you covered –climb on!
Click on the video to hear Bryan share more about Macon Rocks and the journey to their 2021 opening date. After you've viewed the video, step inside and see the space for yourself –this stop is open for tours.
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‘Something that all the family can get involved in’: New Rock climbing gym to open in downtown Macon” by Thais Ackerman. 13WMAZ. January 11, 2021.
482 1st St
Sneakerheads –rejoice! Sixth Ave is open for business and ready to equip you with the newest and hottest kicks. This apparel and sneaker boutique is owned and operated by three friends and sneaker aficionados -Michael Paredes, Marquis Burns, and Jarredd Helms. All three have loved sneakers from an early age and found entrepreneurial ways to score the coolest kicks without a large budget. Michael and Jarredd first met at a Sneaker Con in Atlanta in 2019 but had already been following one another on social media. They both got into the sneaker business by trading and selling shoes locally and then moved to selling on Facebook and Instagram. Marquis once traded his PlayStation 3 for a pair of Olympic 7s. Today, the friends use their sneaker knowledge, connections, and branding and marketing expertise to bring the most collectible sneakers to Middle Georgia. They opened their first storefront in downtown Macon in the spring.
Sixth Ave is one of several new businesses that have opened on First Street this year. You can now shop for vintage and limited edition apparel, purchase art or participate in a pottery class, dine, and enjoy cocktails, wine, and beer without ever leaving First Street.
Step inside and see what all the hype is about. Sixth Ave is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 7pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am to 8pm.
“‘The coolest shoes.’ Sneaker aficionados open an upscale storefront in downtown Macon” by Becky Purser. Macon Telegraph. July 5, 2022. https://www.macon.com/news/business/article263091623.html#storylink=cpy
470 1st St
Ashley and Tony Doolin fell in love with Macon when they moved here 6 years ago to help start The Creek FM, an independent radio station in the heart of downtown. During that time, they learned more about Macon, saw the gaps in downtown's dining and entertainment experience, and opened The Monkey's Paw –a tiki bar above Downtown Grill. Looking for a new venture and an opportunity to flex her skills as a self-trained chef, Ashley approached NewTown Loans in 2021 with a plan for a restaurant that would add new flavors to downtown Macon's culinary scene. Their dream became a reality and they opened Pearl Passionate Cuisine and Cocktails on First Street.
Hear more from Ashley about this exciting new concept in downtown Macon in the video below. And be sure to call and make a reservation for your next night out!
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415 1st St
The Macon City Auditorium is one of Macon’s most stately historic buildings. It was built in 1925 with a unique claim to fame: it boasted the largest copper dome in the world.
The interior walls and classically inspired columns uphold that copper dome and like a time capsule, those walls also hold centuries' worth of memories. Its in-progress two-phase renovation will ensure future generations deposit ample more memories in this communal time capsule.
This summer the Auditorium’s stage went dark for three months as Phase 1 of the renovation process began. As planned, its doors re-opened for national and regional music performances, meetings, and annual community events in September. Phase 1 renovations included remodeling the dome and making acoustic improvements. A new catwalk was added along with theatrical lighting and equipment to enhance future performances. Additionally, the downstairs concession lobby and restrooms were renovated.
Be sure to purchase a ticket for one of the upcoming shows. Take a step inside and have a look at the renovations –the Auditorium is open for tours today.
“City Auditorium goes dark for three months as renovations begin” by Liz Fabian. The Macon Newsroom. June 2, 2022
Macon City Auditorium. Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia.
436 Cotton Ave
Music has, and continues to be, the binding force that brings people together. With several notable hometown musicians like Otis Redding, whose soulful lyrics, rhythms, and spirit still inspire new generations of young musicians, it is clear why music is deeply rooted in Macon’s identity. Thanks to his beloved widow, Zelma Redding, who established the Otis Redding Foundation in 2007, Otis’ spirit and footprint are ingrained in the soul of this city. Since its formal inception, the Otis Redding Foundation unapologetically continues Otis’ commitment to philanthropy by empowering, enriching, and motivating young people through music, writing, and instrumentation. A powerful and necessary mission!
And with their recent exciting announcement earlier this year, the Otis Redding Foundation will be able to expand its programs and continue making a difference in our youth. You are looking at the future site of the Otis Redding Center for the Arts. This 15,000-square-foot site will include an outdoor amphitheater and a two-story center. This property will serve as a centralized location for the Foundation’s youth educational programs and the arts.
The Center’s two stories will include practice rooms and studio and lab spaces for students. The outdoor amphitheater will face Cherry Street. This signature project is an ode to the preservation of both Macon’s music history and Otis’ commitment to investing in the next generation of artists.
Also, you are just steps away from the Otis Redding Foundation and Museum (339 Cotton Ave). Before joining us at the Partners in Progress Awards reception, make a slight detour and pop into the museum and check out all the Otis Redding memorabilia or grab some official King of Soul merch! They'll be open until 8pm tonight.
Learn more from Justin Andrews and Jared Wright about this exciting project and view renderings of the proposed site below.
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“Otis Redding Foundation Announces New Center for the Arts & Amphitheater.” CISION: PR Newswire. March 10, 2022.
Otis Redding Foundation. https://otisreddingfoundation.org/about-us/
401 Cotton Ave
Hotel Forty Five represents a confidence and enthusiasm in downtown Macon that has not been felt in the community’s recent memory. Just ten years ago, the possibility of a hotel in the walkable core of downtown Macon would have been unfathomable. But in February 2022, Hotel Forty Five became the first, new hotel to open in downtown Macon in several decades.
Visit Macon published a market study that stated downtown Macon could absorb 1000 hotel rooms due to its vibrant nightlife, cultural amenities like theaters and art venues, and robust dining scene. IDP Properties purchased the former Willie C. Hill Annex building from Macon-Bibb County with the intent to convert the building into lofts but realized the market potential of being the first hotel in a revitalizing downtown Macon.
The 94-room boutique hotel was completed in 2022, resulting in a $39 million investment, which is the single largest investment in downtown Macon in the past 10 years. When online room reservations went live in November, 200 rooms were booked, showing the excitement around the project. Hotel Forty Five also generates substantial sales tax revenue for Macon-Bibb County. This is particularly significant because the county adopted an OLOST last year, which collects sales tax revenues for the county’s general fund. A hospitality project of this size will generate even more revenue for the county that can be used to make public improvements around the city.
The building has been beautifully restored and converted to its new use, despite being reconfigured into a wide variety of office spaces over its history. Historically known as the Bankers Insurance Building, the structure retains a high degree of architectural integrity. IDP Properties and Mainsail Lodging and Development worked with local architect Gene Dunwody, the grandson of the original architect, to incorporate the art deco elements that make the building distinct. Historic details like the golden brick exterior, original terrazzo floors on the first and second stories, marble on the first floor, and the central elevator lobby on each story have all been restored and become prominent features of this exceptional adaptive reuse project.
Today, the hotel is part of the Marriott Tribute Portfolio and managed by Mainsail Lodging and Development. Learn more about this iconic building and Hotel Forty Five from general manager Stephen Amesoeder.
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provided by Historic Macon Foundation
Constructed in 1923, the four-story Bankers Insurance Building in the triangular corner of First Street and Cotton Avenue was addressed 439 Cotton Avenue. The structure was purpose-built to fit its lot and has load-bearing masonry walls and original concrete floors. The eleven-story structure to the east is a large addition to the original structure at 439 Cotton Avenue. Fire proof doors connecting the two buildings were part of the original construction of the Bankers Insurance Building. 439 Cotton Avenue was originally home to the Bankers Insurance Company, the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, and other businesses even before the large addition in 1941.
Designed by W. Elliott Dunwody Jr. starting in 1939, the eleven-story addition shows the influence of the Art Deco style while utilizing a modern concrete and steel structural system. Dunwody's earliest designs for the structure did not utilize as much of the lot, so the design was adapted during construction to increase the size of the building on the lower stories. After its completion in 1941, the newly enlarged Bankers Insurance Building immediately became one of the most coveted office addresses in the city. Many local businesses had offices in this structure, including WMAZ, which was a radio station only when they moved in but soon became a local television station that still exists today. Other businesses included numerous law offices, contracting firms, barber shops, beauty salons, railroad companies, dentists, and many others.
Beyond Dunwody's design of the structure, the building has also housed several renowned Macon architects, including Dunwody himself, Bernard A. Webb Jr., and Dennis and Dennis. Various levels and types of government offices also used this space, even before the structure was officially purchased by the City of Macon. Examples include military recruitment centers and congressional offices.
In 1970, the building was officially listed as the Southern Trust Building, though many of the same businesses remained in place. In 1976, the Mayor Buckner Melton proposed that the Urban Development Authority (UDA) purchase the building to alleviate overcrowding in City Hall. UDA declined to purchase the building without the approval of the full City Council, but eventually did so. In 1996, UDA transferred the building to the City of Macon, and in January of 2014, Macon-Bibb County became the official owner of the building with the consolidation of the city and county governments.
Despite being reconfigured into a wide variety of office spaces over its history, the Bankers Insurance Building retains a high degree of integrity. On the exterior, different signage has been applied to the building over the years, an awning was added over the front door c.1977, and screens were added in front of all the original windows c.1977. Otherwise, the exterior of the addition remains true to Dunwody's design. Throughout all the floor plan changes, the central elevator lobby has been retained on each story. Additionally, the original terrazzo floors on the first and second stories and marble on the first floor have also been retained.
Cotton Avenue is quickly becoming a beauty and grooming hot spot. Lilac Lash Lounge joins Olde World Barber Shoppe and the Kaviar Beauty Bar as the newest location to pamper yourself. Lilac Lash Lounge offers high quality lash extensions, lash lift and tints, brow lamination, and facial waxing. Check out their services and book your appointment today: www.lilaclashlounge.com
321 Cotton Ave
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Check out their website to learn more!
588 Mulberry Street
Work is underway on the historic Washington Block building, which will soon be known as the Washington Lofts. Ryan Sanders of Atlanta-based Hephaestus Development is developing the building to include twelve lofts, a restaurant space, and a new live-work space. Currently, the Law Office of Paul Christian occupies one of the storefronts and will remain in the same space after completion of the project. Although Ryan is from Atlanta, he’s working with a Macon-based team to complete the project. Historic Macon Foundation is providing tax credit consultation, Bob Brown serves as the architect, Stroud and Company serves as the general contractor, and Robinson Home serves as the interior designer.
Additionally, NewTown Macon provided gap financing on this project to help meet the surging demand for lofts. Once complete, the Washington Lofts will offer a new downtown living option -studio efficient apartments. Each unit will be about 700 square feet with a full bath and kitchen.
Provided by Historic Macon Foundation
The Washington Block was built around 1857 on the site for the former Washington Hall Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1855. The new structure was built by J.M. Boardman as a commercial and office building, which can still be seen in the building’s existing layout. The ground floor appears to have been originally divided into 6 separate spaces that housed retail and office tenants. In 1889, the ground floor occupants were Duncan Real Estate Exchange, The Georgia Loan & Trust Co., Jacobs-Bowen Co. tailors, Macon Publishing Co., Macon Savings Bank, and Lamar & Lamar (which sold drugs, toiletries, cigars, and soda water). That same year there were 30 rooms listed as occupied on the upper stories. Of those 30 tenants, 19 were attorney’s offices, four were used by the US Weather Bureau, three were used by the Union Central Life Insurance Co., and four appear to have been vacant. The building stayed fully occupied until the 1970s, when the upper floors became mostly vacant. The ground floor housed a barber shop, a restaurant, and a bank. Around 2012, the third and second floors were used as small art studios for local artists, known as the Contemporary Art Exchange, which lasted until 2018.
“Owner talks about his plans for restoration of historic building in downtown Macon” by Becky Purser. Macon Telegraph. July 14, 2022.
350 2nd St
Be our guest! The Woodward Hotel is now open for business. The nine room boutique hotel was completed earlier this year just in time for NewTown Macon to host 300 downtown professionals for the Georgia Downtown Association Conference in August. Guests will find luxury rooms boasting historic architectural details and nods to Southern literature in the decor. Moonhanger Group partnered with NewTown Macon to develop this property to meet the market demand for downtown hotel rooms. Between our robust calendar of concerts at our 8 theatres and venues, 52 locally-owned restaurants, and vibrant nightlife, downtown is a desirable destination for an overnight stay. While you’re here, be sure to visit Quill around back for literature-inspired craft cocktails and take a photo of the mural featuring Pleasant Hill native and Harlem Writers Guild founder John Olliver Killens from the rooftop patio.
Learn more from General Manager, Sierra Stark Stevens, and Moonhanger Group Owner, Wes Griffith, about this beautiful respite.
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provided by Historic Macon Foundation
City directories indicate the existence of a store at this location as early as 1855. An 1857 Macon Telegraph ad announced the opening of a "new and beautiful store", which was a milliner shop owned by Mrs. Sarah Audouin. By 1884, 350 Second St. was the site of the Mack Brothers dry goods store. The dental office of Dr. Darwin Wright was located on the second floor of the building until 1900. For the next 36 years, until 1920, the second floor of the building served as the offices for a variety of medical professionals. The first floor of the building had a variety of uses between 1884 and 1925. In addition to a dry goods store (1884-1889), it served as a jewelry store (1889-1900 and again between 1917-1920), as well as the business office of the Central of Georgia Railway, an office supply company, a clothing store, and a banking and trust company.
For 49 years, until approximately 1974, 350 Second St. was utilized exclusively by two businesses - Willingham & Payne, Inc., an insurance company, and Willingham Loan & Trust Company, real estate brokers. The building was either vacant or had short term commercial occupants in the late 1970s and during the 1980s. In 1990, it began to serve as law offices and did so for the next 25 years until again becoming vacant in 2016.
You made it! Now have a drink from Fall Line Brewing Co., some snacks from Macon Bagels, Fatty’s Pizza, and La Bella Morelia, listen to music by Blak Pearl, and enjoy the future site of Cotton Avenue Plaza! Z Beans is open for full service until 8pm so be sure to stop in and say hi.
Earlier this year, the county removed two Confederate monuments from this location and on Poplar Street and placed them in the Confederate cemetery at Rose Hill. This space will be redeveloped as a pedestrian plaza, following the recommendation of the original Macon Action Plan. The reimagined space will offer more opportunities for the community to connect and enjoy downtown’s public sphere. Learn more about the redevelopment of Cotton Avenue Plaza from the Urban Development Authority’s Executive Director, Alex Morrison in the video below.
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Join us for the Partners in Progress awards ceremony, which will start promptly at 7pm.
Thank you for attending this year’s Tour of Progress. Please let us know how you enjoyed this event and help us make improvements for next year by completing our survey.
Welcome to the 2022 Tour of Progress! Click on each tour stop name to see more information, photos, and videos for each stop. The map provided shows the overall route. QR codes are placed along the tour route for you to scan and be taken directly to more information about each stop.