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Woody Marshall/The Macon Telegraph
Brenda Brown of Jeff Davis Street in Macon adresses the city-county road program's executive committee during its Thursday meeting.

Housing development may be part of road program plan

By Christopher Schwarzen
The Macon Telegraph

New housing development at Jeff Davis/Telfair Street received a positive push Thursday from the city-county road program's executive committee.

The committee also will consider housing and commercial possibilities along Little Richard Penniman Boulevard when it's extended to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, possibly along Edgewood Avenue.

Jim Marshall

The group, led by Macon Mayor Jim Marshall, requested Moreland Altobelli, the road program's designer, and the city's economic and community development department to consider costs involved in building seven houses on publicly owned land at Jeff Davis. The development would coincide with the road project there.

The Macon-Bibb County Road Improvement Program calls for repaving of Jeff Davis/Telfair with curb and gutter, sidewalk and storm drainage improvements between Felton Avenue and Little Richard Penniman.

To complete the project, the road program will need to purchase two lots near Bright Street. The city already owns several lots between Bright and Prince streets and could easily purchase more with funds from the road program, said Martin Fretty, acting director of economic and community development.

"This concept presentation is about improving the city's infrastructure, adding value to the street improvements, creating a gateway to downtown and this neighborhood and righting a wrong from a previous road project," Fretty said. A road project there several years ago left many barren lots, some of which the city now owns.

Fretty and Marshall suggested using nonprofit and private help to build the houses and sell them to lower-income, first-time home-buyers.

"It would probably require about a one-third subsidy from us," Marshall said. "Compared to the amount of money we spend on road projects, the money needed for this would be small."

Fretty hopes to return to the executive committee next month with viable partners and cost estimates. No funding discussions took place Thursday.

Brenda Brown of Jeff Davis, along with two of her neighbors, listened intently to the discussion.

"I thank anyone concerned with an economic development plan (for this road)," she said. "I don't know where they'll get the funding but the community is excited that they are planning something."



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