Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, a Mercer Law graduate, celebrated the opening of the new Ingleside Village Pizza with more than 100 Mercer students, faculty and staff in April. The pizzeria is the beginning a redevelopment effort called Mercer Village, adjacent to the Macon Campus.
More than 100 Mercer students, faculty and staff joined President William D. Underwood and a number of city officials to celebrate the opening of the second location of Ingleside Village Pizza on Montpelier Avenue, adjacent to the Macon campus. The April 23 event also marked the first step in realizing the University’s and the College Hill Corridor Commission’s vision for the retail area along Montpelier, which borders the north side of campus. The commercial center, currently under development, will be called the Mercer Village and will eventually include a number of college-friendly businesses.
A week after the IVP opening, Jittery Joe’s Coffee, announced plans to become a Mercer Village tenant and open next door to the pizza house in August. Jittery Joe’s Coffee is an Athens-based roaster and coffeehouse, which is popular among University of Georgia students.
“Jittery Joe’s has been part of the Athens ‘cool factor’ for years, and we’re excited to welcome it to our community and the College Hill Corridor,” said Sarah Gerwig-Moore, co-chair of the College Hill Corridor Commission and assistant professor at Mercer’s School of Law. “At each of the public meetings we’ve hosted, students, neighbors and faculty have said that a good coffee shop just steps off campus would be a positive addition to the neighborhood.”
One of Macon’s local favorites, IVP is the first college-friendly businesses to open in the College Hill Corridor – the area between the campus and downtown – since the formation of the College Hill Corridor Commission, which resulted from a student class project. Among the students who worked on the development of the Commission idea was Matthew Wetherington, now a first-year Mercer law student.
“I really appreciate all the input and the encouragement we’ve had from all areas of the city and all areas of this university,” Wetherington told the opening day crowd in front of IVP. “This is a great first step in bringing students off campus and really seeing what we have to offer as a Mercer-Macon community.”
Macon Mayor Robert Reichert was on hand to celebrate the event and praised the initiative. “This is the kind of good thing that can happen when strong institutions, like Mercer University, and local government, like the city of Macon, can partner with private enterprise and to come to together to create something that is so wonderful,” he said. “It provides a service, it provides a significant attraction and benefit to everybody – not to mention the fact that it goes back on the tax rolls today — so from the city’s perspective, we really appreciate that.”
The College Hill Corridor Commission was co-created by the City of Macon and Mercer to create a physical, cultural and social path to connect the University with downtown. Part of that process has been working with Mercer to chart the future of Mercer Village, a historic neighborhood commercial center that has been underutilized. Through two community design charrettes led by college town planners, the Commission reached a community consensus that Mercer Village must be attractive and consist of traditionally designed buildings with mixed uses, such as student housing and retail. Finally, the Commission is prioritizing “college town cool,” locally owned, unique tenants that invite both students and neighborhood residents to eat, shop, relax and interact.
The College Hill Corridor Commission received a grant from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia to develop a master plan for Mercer Village. The plan, which is still under development, is inspiring such ideas as new infill buildings, roundabouts, student housing, coffee shops, bookstores, porches and even a market..
Students at the Grand Opening expressed excitement about the new establishments.
“This just makes the campus that much more complete,” said Kevin Waits, a senior biology major.
Kate Mudrack, a junior sociology major, plans to frequent the restaurant at least once a week. “This is the best idea Mercer has had since I’ve been here,” she said.
Wetherington said he hoped the ribbon cutting was just the beginning of the process of linking Mercer students to Macon’s downtown. “This is an important first step in getting students to come off campus and see just how much the city of Macon has to offer,” he said.