University Neighbors Wonder How Development Helps Them
Despite it's name, Tindall Heights actually sits at the bottom of a bowl.
It's one of the oldest housing projects in Macon and it is just across Little Richard Penniman Boulevard from Mercer University. Just up the hill from Tindall heights is the site of a proposed Mercer University hotel and student housing project that would total 400 beds in all. The project would include restaurants and shopping, too. Mercer has asked Macon-Bibb County for financial aid to make the project happen.
Pivotal to the financing is a district where taxes can be raised to support the $10 million requested from the Macon-Bibb County government. This is known as a Tax Allocation Distirct or TAD. And it’s meant to fund the larger Second Street Corridor project. This district already includes a residential development, In fact it is the single largest parcel of land there.
That's Tindall Heights.
On a recent day on the west end of Tindall Heights, Sonja Cody helped her grandchild into a car seat. She said that when it comes to Mercer University, she likes her neighbor and doesn’t oppose what they want to do up the hill.
“We’re a big fan of Mercer and we try and support it. But if it’s going to benefit them it should benefit the whole community as a whole, you know,” Cody said.
So what kind of benefit would Cody want out of the project? Cody asks why not improve Tindall Heights, where people already live?
“Some of these people have been over here for years. And I think they deserve better. I deserve better,” Cody said.
June Parker agrees. She heads the Macon Housing Authority and says they’ve been looking for a way to improve Tindall Heights for years.
Kelvin Taylor, center, moves out of Tindall Heights after five years with the help of friends recently. Taylor says he is only interested in the proposed Mercer University Development if it somehow helps kids in Tindall Heights. Photo by Grant Blankenship
“We have been searching since 2008 for an opportunity to do something at Tindall and we continue to search,” Parker said.
Parker said as far as she knows, the Second Street TAD wasn’t meant for public housing at all. County spokesperson Chris Floore said Tindall Heights was included in the TAD so that when a plan does one day gel, there will be a mechanism for providing matching funds or other financial aid, much like the County might now pitch in for the Mercer project.
Behind an apartment in the center of Tindall Heights, Michael Brantley played a game of dominoes with a friend. He said the new Mercer Development at least won’t do any harm to the neighborhood.
“I don’t have a problem with what they’re doing. Cause its pretty much going to bring more money to Mercer and better scholarships and better sports athletes. Pretty much I think it’s great,” Brantley said.
But Brantley questioned why the County government needs to help Mercer at all.
“Basically it’s going to pretty much be for their students. So I think they got enough money to do that on their own,” he said.
Within the public financing request made by Mercer of the County government, $1 million dollars is earmarked for what is loosely defined as “blight removal” within the Second Street TAD. County officials haven’t picked spots on the map to spend that money. Could that money be put to work in Tindall Heights? June Parker says no.
Tindall Heights is one of the oldest public housing projects in Macon. Photo by Grant Blankenship
“I am unaware of that being intended by for Tindall Heights,” Parker said.
Parker said a piecemeal solution to conditions in Tindall Heights won’t fly. Any changes would have to be comprehensive and reviewed by the Federal government. Again, that hasn’t happened.
Alexis, she only wanted to use a first name, waited at the bus stop across from the old Boys and Girls Club as students from nearby Ingram Pye Elementary School walked home. She was headed to work in the west of the county. She, like Sonja Cody, wants better housing. She said it should be obvious that with Tindall Heights so close to Mercer’s recent expansion that something should be done.
“You have Mercer over there then you have these apartments, these, you know, projects,” Alexis said, “And it’s right across from Mercer, it will make Mercer look better.”
Tags: Grant Blankenship, Macon, Georgia, economy, politics, development, housing, Mercer University, mercy university development project, tindall heights