|By Rodney Manley, The Macon Telegraph,
Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 25, 2011--The Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority on Monday signed off on an 18-month option agreement for the The Renaissance on the River -- a proposed $50 million mixed-use development anchored by an upscale tower hotel.
The first phase of the development also would put condominiums and office space on the 12-acre site off Riverside Drive.
The option now requires the signature of the developer, former Mercer University President Kirby Godsey, as well as the approval of stakeholders in the property -- the Peyton Anderson Foundation, Bibb County and the city of Macon.
The authority for years has sought to have the property developed, and it has entertained several proposals by developers. None, however, has progressed to this point, and none has been as ambitious as the Renaisance project.
Phase 1 would feature a hotel with 40 rooms, 24 condominiums and a top-floor restaurant and club, as well as a 100,000-square-foot office building and a public parking deck.
The proposed second phase would add retail space and 142 apartments. Overall, the project could add more than 230 residential units downtown and represent a $140 million commercial investment.
"We think if this can come to pass, it will be the best thing to happen downtown in many, many years," authority Chairman Bob Lewis said Monday.
Under the agreement, Renaissance on the River LLC would pay $15,000 for an 18-month option. However, if the authority is unable to acquire the city's Central Services Department property on the site, the option is extended by another six months. The authority currently controls 8 acres there.
The relocation of Central Services could be a major hurdle. Mayor Robert Reichert wants to move the department to Central City Park, where a new building would be built and two others renovated. The mayor said the city has about $300,000 remaining from a 2002 bond issue that could be put toward the relocation.
He has asked the authority to consider issuing bonds to cover the rest of the cost, which authority attorney Chix Miller said Monday has been upped to $1.5 million. An earlier estimate was $1.2 million.
The option agreement calls for Renaissance to pay $1.16 million for the property. It also allows for the purchase price to be reduced by up to $500,000 should the developer agree to help fund the Central Services relocation.
Godsey has asked for a 20-year tax abatement for the project. The site was one of three areas designated recently by the city as tax allocation districts, where property tax revenue is frozen for a period of time to encourage development.
The option agreement includes one change from earlier discussions. It requires that the authority be notified in writing should ownership change and Godsey no longer have control of the project.
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Macon Telegraph, Ga.
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