Wanting to ‘inject some vigor’ into local mall, Macon opens more public offices inside

Macon-Bibb County ceremonially cut the ribbon on new city offices Monday, celebrating the opening of new facilities for the Planning and Zoning, and Building and Fire Safety departments as part of the city’s Macon Mall Rejuvenation project.

The two new offices are located in the mall, which opened in 1975 and is now central to a city area undergoing major redevelopment.

In addition to the offices, the project also includes the new Rhythm and Rally - the world’s largest indoor pickleball facility. The Atrium Health Amphitheater and more government offices, including the Board of Elections, are also part of the project. The Middle Georgia Regional Commission, library branch, and Mayor’s Literacy Alliance are part of the revamp too.

Dr. Keith Moffett, county manager, said the move will greatly improve how the county operates.

Moffett said having the offices next to each other will help streamline business in the Macon area.

“The bottom line is if you want to do any kind of business here in our community these two offices are the front door to that process, these two offices are where you need to go,” he said. “They are the hub of keeping businesses moving and growing which is why we are excited to have them here co-located in this beautiful facility.”

Alex Morrison, executive director of the Urban Development Authority, said the project was important to the economic vitality of the community. Just like the efforts being made downtown, the project will breathe new life into neighborhoods and businesses surrounding the Macon Mall.

“If you’ve been paying attention you’ve seen that our downtown is the greatest in America. And the theory of the case for downtown was that you have to inject life into the space,” he said. “You have to have people interacting in the space, using the space - living in the space. People are the key to any revitalization - it has to have life, it has to have a living pulse to it.”

Morrison said an 80% decrease in the taxable value of the homes within one mile of the mall had taken place from 1999 to 2020. He said much like downtown in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the mall experienced the same type of depression. By 2015 the Macon Mall was a shell of its former self, making the area around it depressed and devalued.

“When you see that kind of depression, that kind of dip - people’s lives become depressed. We can’t have happiness if we don’t have that vitality,” he said. “So, our thought is let’s inject some vigor back into the mall space. Part of that is having daily use, having government offices here - people who are in here on a daily basis providing a baseline of success to support businesses and to support our overall growth.”

In a press release for the ceremony, Mayor Lester Miller said the county is actively working with businesses and organizations to focus its efforts and to work together on projects that will have years and decades of impact in the area surrounding the mall and ultimately the entire community.

An open house will be held Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at 3661 Eisenhower Parkway, Suite MB104 to give businesses, industries, contractors and more a chance to tour the offices and see how they will improve interactions with the Macon-Bibb community.