MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - After months of anticipation, the State Properties Commission finally approved the sale of the former Georgia Music Hall of Fame Building to Mercer University.
"It's a win-win," says Mercer University Chief of Staff, Larry Brumley, "It's a win for the university that it provides us with much needed space for our health sciences program. It's a win for the community in particular downtown Macon because it takes an empty building and puts it to good use."
A win, and great deal for Mercer University. The State Properties Commission says the building was appraised at $1.6 million. The prime piece of downtown real estate was sold for a $180,091.
"We could have built a new building but that opportunity to secure that prominent facility in a key location in downtown and reconfigure it for our use really fits in with our commitment to the community," says Brumley.
An economic impact study conducted by Georgia Tech was factored into the final selling price. It shows that in the long rung, the value of expanding the medical program will far exceed the $1.4 million the state would've banked from the sale. Projections from that study show the state could see just under $16 million from the program over ten years.
Manager of Main Street Macon, Mechel McKinley, believes money from students and faculty will circulate right back into the local economy.
"You're going to have students and professors and administrators who are going to be eating lunch, they're going to be shopping, they're going to be out and about during the day and after hours," says McKinley.
McKinley's confident this expansion of the program will have a great impact on the next phase of downtown's commercial and residential growth.
"It's really fantastic that we've got someone that's going to come in here that's a quality partner. I'm really excited to have Mercer take up a footprint in downtown."
Brumley says they're expected to sign all the paperwork and finalize the deal within the next two weeks. Over the summer, the University will decide which parts of the health program will move in to downtown Macon.
Reconstructing the building to fit the needs of the program could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Brumley says if all goes according to plan, you can expect the building to be ready by late 2013 or early 2014.