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April 9, 2014

Bishop building redevelopment upcoming

City Council authorizes initial project assessment and loan applications

MILLEDGEVILLE — One of downtown Milledgeville's most recognizable buildings will soon be revitalized.

The Bishop building at the corner of Hancock and South Wayne Street was purchased by 101 South Wayne Street, LLC in mid-February.

Milledgeville City Council unanimously authorized an Initial Project Assessment and application to apply for revolving loan funds from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and Georgia Cities Foundation to redevelop the property at Tuesday's regular meeting.

The building will house apartments and commercial space.

Milledgeville Main Street and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Director Carlee Schulte said this is the preliminary stage of a low interest loan application for Main Street communities through both the DCA and the Georgia Cities Foundation.

Schulte said this “permanent financing” would pay off some loans new owner Marty Martin will get in order to redevelop the building.

The new property ownership is asking for $250,000 from DCA and $37,000 from the Georgia Cities fund. Total projected cost is $735,000.

Milledgeville Main Street is a conduit between the developer, the city and DCA to get the logistical paperwork completed.

The notable work at the Baldwin Lofts utilized a similar funding mechanism. Schulte said other developers know that project's pedigree.

Two and three percent interest rates are unheard of and peaked a lot of interest, according to the Main Street director.

“It shows people it's possible and that could be them,” Schulte said Tuesday. “Developers want to see viable projects in the area to make them feel a little more comfortable about investing.”

Owner of the Baldwin Lofts Frank Pendergast said last summer, after receiving state recognition for the redevelopment, that the city's “willingness to work with developers should encourage others to seek out the City of Milledgeville for their projects.”

The Baldwin Lofts' design and innovative use of financing utilized both the downtown revolving loan and Georgia Cities Foundation funds, as well as multiple federal and state tax credit programs for historic preservation.

The Baldwin brings an interesting take on urban renewal. The old Horne Building erected in 1903 now houses 15 apartments, a courtyard and two commercial spaces throughout its three floors.

The City of Milledgeville updated code, realizing that local ordinance changes were necessary for development good.

“There were a lot of code changes that made that project work and opened the doors for others that couldn't develop the upper level in the past,” Schulte said.

Based on early planning, the Bishop building's restoration and redevelopment will house four one-bedroom apartments above four commercial spaces in the nearly 6,000 square foot property.

“It's not only just providing loft and commercial availability downtown, but it's renovating or redeveloping a property that's blighted or sat vacant,” Schulte said.  “That's such a visible corner. A lot of people would love to put their business there. It's going to do wonders for the facades of two of our blocks downtown.”

The DDA secured four parking spots next to the old Western Auto building for the developer to rent, which covers the current city code requirement.

Martin will present the full project plan with a rendering at the next City Council work session. Hopefully, all city parties will be on board and assist in the development logistics.

“When you see it, it just makes you more excited about this project,” Schulte said. “They hope for this to be done within the next year.”

Councilman Steve Chambers, District 6, said the Bishop space has a tremendous “visual impact being at the quad center of downtown.”

Mayor Richard Bentley is glad someone will upgrade the “only downtown corner that's not developed.”

Councilman Boo Mullins, District 5, sees the need for parking sites if downtown loft construction projects continue occurring.

Schulte said the DDA owns 12 additional parking spaces after the Bishop allotment.

Martin along with his Milledgeville native wife Kim Hall Martin also purchased the Antebellum Inn Bed & Breakfast on North Columbia Street last June. The Martins decided Milledgeville was the ideal getaway from their home in Manhasset, N.Y.

Kim is a former president and general manager of WE tv and also serves on the Georgia College Foundation Board of Trustees.

Along with Marty, who works in real estate and is a former national sales manager for a golf and tennis sport brand, the couple is excited about investing in the city.

“We are thrilled to have them here,” Schulte said.

 

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