Historic Macon Foundation Will Expand Revitalization Efforts in Macon’s Beall’s Hill Neighborhood With $3 Million Investment from Knight Foundation

Historic Macon Foundation will recharge revitalization efforts in Macon’s Beall’s Hill neighborhood with $3 million in new support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Funding will be provided over the next five to seven years.

The support continues Knight’s commitment to completely restore 32 blocks of the Beall’s Hill neighborhood within the College Hill Corridor in partnership with Mercer University, Macon-Bibb County government, and the Macon Housing Authority. Knight Foundation has supported Historic Macon’s revitalization efforts in the neighborhood as part of this public-private partnership since 2007.

New funding will help expand Historic Macon’s efforts to revitalize existing homes and develop new housing, as well as introduce energy-efficiency projects in the area. It will also continue down payment assistance to potential homeowners and a revolving loan program that encourages residents to improve the exterior appearance of their businesses and homes.

In addition to new funding from Knight, Macon-Bibb County recently committed an additional $2 million to the revitalization plan for sidewalks, streetlights and other infrastructure improvements.  Mercer University is further providing $400,000 to a Mercer-Knight Down Payment Assistance Fund for new homeowners in the area.

“Over the past 50 years our organization has led the country in innovative preservation solutions so we are proud to continue that tradition,” said Ethiel Garlington, executive director of Historic Macon Foundation. “As we embark on our next 50 years, we are thrilled to partner with the Knight Foundation to demonstrate how revitalizing a historic neighborhood can be a boon to Macon's economy and enhance our community's unprecedented momentum.”

“This renewed investment recognizes Historic Macon’s successes over the past eight years in leading the transformation of Macon’s urban core into a more vibrant, diverse community where talent and opportunity can thrive,” said Beverly Blake, Knight Foundation program director in Macon. “The progress that has been made through our strong partnerships with Mercer University, Macon-Bibb County and others can serve as lessons in revitalization for cities across the country.”

“Mercer’s partnership with Knight Foundation on the down payment assistance program has enabled the University to further its efforts at talent recruitment and retention, while also bringing back to life one of Macon’s first neighborhoods,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “The program also is one of the factors in Macon once again leading the state in the use of tax credits to rehabilitate historic structures, which is another tool that makes these homes more affordable for our faculty and staff.”

Historic Macon currently manages $1.35 million in loan funds for development activities in Macon. Since 2009, funds have been used to restore 27 historic buildings and build 16 new homes in Beall’s Hill. In addition, the Knight-Mercer Down Payment Assistance Fund has helped 39 of the University’s faculty and staff become homeowners in the College Hill Corridor.

Support for Historic Macon forms one part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to expand opportunities in Macon, while fostering talent retention and attraction. Since Knight made an initial $2 million investment in the College Hill Alliance in 2009, another $25 million in residential and commercial development in the Corridor has been leveraged from public and private sources, a 2012 independent evaluation commissioned by the foundation found. Continued revitalization of the Beall’s Hill neighborhood, improvements to Tattnall Square Park, the development of Mercer Village and Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism are among the most visible outcomes of the initiative. These efforts have resulted in $97 million in private and public investment since 2009.

About Historic Macon Foundation

Founded in 1964, Historic Macon Foundation is a nonprofit organization that revitalizes Macon by preserving architecture and sharing history. This year marks Historic Macon’s 50th anniversary of community revitalization and leading the nation in innovative tactics for historic preservation. For more information or to become a member, visit www.historicmacon.org or call 478-742-5084.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.  www.knightfoundation.org