Mercer has partnered with two private development companies to build a $10 million mixed-use development on the Macon campus that will feature loft-style apartments and retail space for the Mercer Bookstore and other businesses that cater to the Mercer community and residents in the College Hill Corridor.
Sierra Development and Piedmont Construction Group will build, maintain and run the development, called the Lofts at Mercer Village. The development will be located on Montpelier Avenue across from Ingleside Village Pizza and Jittery Joe’s Coffee. The first floor will have approximately 13,750 square feet of retail space and the top three floors will house up to 117 students in three- and four-bedroom, loft-style apartments that reflect a sleek, urban design.
The building will have an all-brick façade that reflects the traditional architectural elements of the Mercer campus. It has been designed to create a vibrant streetscape, enhancing the recent retail development in Mercer Village, which in addition to Ingleside Village Pizza and Jittery Joe’s Coffee, houses Francar’s Buffalo Wings, Georgia Public Broadcasting studios, and offices for the College Hill Alliance.
“The University is grateful to the principals at Sierra Development and Piedmont Construction Group for bringing to us such a compelling proposal for this mixed-use development,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “This is the kind of private, residential-retail project envisioned in the College Hill Corridor Master Plan, and it supports one of the goals in Mercer’s 10-year strategic plan to create a more residential campus. Jim Daws, David Thompson, Scott Thompson and their associates and partners have shown exceptional creativity in their concept and a tremendous commitment to this project. It’s a win-win for the developers, the University, the College Hill Corridor and the City of Macon.”
The Mercer Bookstore, operated by Barnes and Noble, will move from its current location in Penfield Hall on the interior of campus and will take up approximately half of the retail space in The Lofts at Mercer Village.
Each bedroom in the loft apartments will have its own bathroom, and the units will feature nine- to 10-foot ceilings, acid-stained concrete floors, accent brick walls and exposed ductwork with large windows in common living areas. The kitchens and bathrooms will have upgraded features such as granite countertops, and each apartment will have its own washer and dryer.
“When David Thompson first made us aware of the College Hill Corridor Commission Master Plan in January of this year, and as we began to understand the vision of President Underwood, the City and the commission, we determined that we wanted to be a part of this exciting project,” said Jim Daws, president of Macon-based Sierra Development. “We were convinced that this would not only be great for Mercer, but also for the community and the City of Macon. Over the last few months, we have been working closely with President Underwood and his staff to work through the scope and design of this project. We are very proud that this project will be a part of the vision of the College Hill Corridor Commission.”
The University’s arrangement with the developers is similar to the one Mercer made with developers of the Hilton Garden Inn four years ago. The University is providing the land and the developers are putting up the structure and will lease the apartment units and retail space, provide facility maintenance and manage the residential operations. The Lofts at Mercer Village will cater to Mercer’s graduate and professional students, as well as upperclass undergraduate students who do not live in University-operated campus housing.
“Piedmont Construction Group’s focus has always been on providing quality projects to our clients, and we see The Lofts at Mercer Village as an exciting part of our mission,” said David D. Thompson, Piedmont’s CEO and co-founder. “We are pleased to be able to contribute to the overall College Hill Corridor plan and to assist the entire team in the realization of the vision provided by President Underwood and Mercer University for a key component of the City of Macon.”
Construction on The Lofts at Mercer Village is expected to begin in February or March, and the bookstore is scheduled to move into its space in December 2010. The first apartment units should be ready for occupancy in January 2011 with full occupancy anticipated in Fall 2011.