Firm Selected to Design Master Plan for College Hill Corridor

MACON — A year and a half after a group of Mercer students imagined a “College Hill Corridor” connecting the University to downtown, a design firm has been hired to plan what the Corridor will look like.  After a series of competitive public presentations among three finalists, the College Hill Corridor Commission selected Interface Studios LLC to complete this master plan.  Planners from the Philadelphia, Pa.-based firm will make their first trip to Macon on Oct. 13 to begin work on the plan by meeting neighbors and exploring the Corridor.

The team of specialists includes urban planners, architects, traffic engineers and economists from Interface Studios and its partner firms Land Strategies Inc., Civic Economics and Polis Studio.  The goal of Interface is not only to design a plan that the community wants and needs, but also to create a realistic plan that can be executed over the next few years. As the Mercer students who initiated the project found, creating a walkable, bikeable and enjoyable connection between Mercer and downtown is critical to attracting and retaining creative talent to Macon’s schools and businesses.

“Interface appears to be just what we need -- innovative planners who value public participation, great streets and historic preservation,” said Kevin Dubose, commission co-chair and director of economic and community development for the City of Macon.

“Everyone who saw Interface Studio’s public interview was wowed by their creativity, energy and innovation. I can’t wait to work with them on this exciting project,” said Sarah Gerwig-Moore, commission co-chair and a Mercer law professor. 

There will be two opportunities on this trip for the public to get involved and help familiarize Interface Studios with the city.  Both events are free and open to the media and public:

- Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 6 p.m., Bicycling Tour of the Corridor - Meet at the W.G. Lee Alumni House at 1270 Ash St. to take a bicycle tour of the College Hill Corridor and brainstorm with architects and traffic engineers about how to improve the experience.  Bring your own bicycle or reserve a bright orange “Bear Bike” by e-mailing bearbikes@gmail.com.

- Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m., Walking Tour of the Corridor - Meet at the W.G. Lee Alumni House at 1270 Ash St. to take a stroll along the Corridor and share your ideas with the planners about changes you would like to see made.
 
Interface will likely return several times during the coming months to finalize its plan, which must be completed by Jan. 31, 2009.

The work on the master plan is being funded through generous planning grants to Mercer University from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grants include money for a College Hill Corridor master plan and to develop an alliance of stakeholders within the Macon community, which could eventually lead to a full-fledged multi-neighborhood redevelopment effort.  Modeled after the University Park Alliance in Akron, Ohio, the new College Hill Alliance would expand the University’s and the City of Macon’s efforts to enhance the neighborhoods around the University.

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