The Revitalization of Macon’s Urban Core: An Assessment of Progress

Learn more about the report, “The Revitalization of Macon’s Urban Core,” by reading this blog post from Lynn Murphey, Macon program director at Knight Foundation.

Downtown revitalization is progressing as the result of a collaboratively executed plan that values authentically Macon improvement.

Like many major cities across the United States, Downtown Macon struggled to rebound from suburbanization, urban renewal and deindustrialization. Cross-sector initiatives in the city over the past decade sought to reverse those trends through public space improvements, infrastructure upgrades and new commercial and residential development. 

Knight Foundation is one of many Macon investors, including but not limited to Mercer University, Peyton Anderson Foundation and Navicent Health, which support the community in revitalizing downtown. Since 1969, Knight Foundation (“Knight”) has directly invested over $82 million in Macon-Bibb, Georgia. In recent years, Knight’s grants have focused on supporting Macon’s efforts to bring renaissance to downtown through partnerships with residents, public leaders and private industry. 

The successes, challenges and measurable outcomes gleaned from activities supported by Knight and others to date — further informed by lessons learned from other cities — lay the foundation for continued improvement to ensure the realization of Downtown Macon as a vibrant, inclusive center for home, work, and play.

To advance economic development and city building objectives in Macon’s Urban Core, between 2013 and 2015, Knight Foundation  partnered with other funders and made over $4.7M in grants to four Macon organizations (just a portion of total Knight investments during this period). Successes and challenges, as outlined in the report and learned from these grants, should inform future activities in Macon, building on past initiatives. 

Successes:

  • Leading with a vision and collaboratively developed plan
  • Democratizing revitalization activities
  • “Bringing city life downtown” through support of housing strategies and activation grants
  • Retaining authentic character

Challenges:

  • Prioritizing inclusive prosperity
  • building a resilient downtown economy
  • Translating infrastructure plans into permanent improvements

Image (top): This is a derivative of “Macon GA 1965”  (August 16, 2012) by davecito, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Colorization added by Knight Foundation.