Mill Hill: East Macon Arts Village is a neighborhood revitalization effort that seeks to develop an artist village in order to address blight and foster economic opportunity in the historic Fort Hawkins neighborhood of Macon, Georgia.
The project is led by the Macon Arts Alliance, an umbrella agency for arts and creative organizations in Macon whose mission is to foster and support the advancement of arts and culture in Central Georgia. The Alliance runs a variety of programs but the East Macon Arts Village is unique in that it was their first foray into tackling issues outside of the traditional creative sphere and into issues of blight and economic disparities.
Mill Hill is a small neighborhood in East Macon with a rich musical history, as it was the home of Little Richard, Otis Redding, and the Allman Brothers. But as with many other cities in the U.S., it has experienced chronic disinvestment. Textile manufacturers historically employed large populations in Macon, but when the industry began leaving in the 1960s, so too did the workers. As a result of the exodus, the city was left with a large number of properties in need of renovation and restoration. Additionally, inadequate urban development planning further isolated and cut off the Mill Hill neighborhood.
The East Macon Arts Village is addressed these challenges following a three-phase process:
- Phase 1: Restoration of the 1920’s Bibb Mill No.1 auditorium as a community arts center.
The 7,000 square foot auditorium that was in danger of demolition, before project intervention. It’s rehab was completed in 2018, and now provides spaces for artists to rehearse, perform and show their work.
- Phase 2: Targeted restoration of historic mill cottages for rehabilitation and sale to artists.
Mill Hill features parcels in “Village Block,” 14 homes along a single street that can be purchased by creatives to live, work, and take full advantage of the Mill Hill Community Arts Center.
- Phase 3: Creation of an asset map and cultural master plan for the neighborhood.
Community engagement and input gathering has been part of the redevelopment plan for Mill Hill. Since 2015, in partnership with the Macon Roving Listeners and Creative Community Builders, stories from recorded interviews were shared with the Urban Development Authority to establish who is new in the neighborhood, how many vacant houses there are, and the changes people want to see. The resident input is being used to inform a master plan for the neighborhood. Community input is part of the decision-making process for the plan, from placement of new sidewalks and street trees to potential programs at the community arts center.
Property Type: Commercial Structure
Project Type/ New Use: Live/Work Space
Project Purpose: Community engagement; Decrease residential vacancy
Initial Cost: Over $250,000
Funding Source: Philanthropic
Organization Type: Nonprofit - Arts and Culture
Implementation Partners: Nonprofit- Arts & Culture; Nonprofit – Other; Local government
Community Type: Urban
Project Website: Mill Hill >
Organization Website: Macon Arts Alliance >
Press: East Macon Arts Village open house to showcase Mill Hill renovations>
Contributions By: Daniel Egusquiza