Problem to Purpose: A Closing Mill Leads Turns into and Art Opportunity
February 11, 2020
Dubbed the “Birthplace of Macon,” the once-bustling Mill Hill neighborhood took a hit when its mill closed in 2015. With the mill doors suddenly shuttering, Mill Hill’s vacancy rate increased to more than 50 percent and mirrored Macon-Bibb County’s 50 percent residential vacancy rate.
How did Mill Hill Make Use of Vacant Space?
Instead of conceding defeat, the Mill Hill neighborhood turned to the arts and partnership for a new real estate opportunity.
One of these partnerships, between the Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority (UDA) and Macon Arts Alliance (MAA), presented the idea of an arts village – a place with a community arts center, live/work homes for artists, and spaces for artists-in-residences. MAA and UDA solicited the wants and needs of what Mill Hill residents wanted to see. Those ideas grew into an arts village, a block party with music and food, and more outlets for neighbors to gather and share their vision for the community.
Through the creation of the new East Macon Arts Village, the spark has once again reignited in Mill Hill. The Mill Hill Community Arts Center – a formerly abandoned auditorium in danger of demolition – officially opened in 2018, MAA has already hired their first artists-in-residence, and, as of September 2019, the East Macon Arts Village proudly held an open house to showcase seven newly renovated homes for sale, one of which is reserved for visiting artists-in-residence.
Need Ideas for a Community Creative Placemaking Project?
Download the “Trends in Creative Placemaking on Problem Properties: 2019 National Survey Findings” for data and real case studies of communities, like Oakland, where residents are solving community challenges while fighting vacancy.
Learn more about the East Macon Arts Village on their website.
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