Historic Pleasant Hill Secures $500K Grant for Neighborhood Revitalization

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Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Organization (PHNO) and Macon-Bibb County secured a significant boost in their efforts to revitalize the community following the announcement of a $500,000 federal grant on Tuesday, March 12.

The grant, facilitated through the Reimagining the Civic Commons (RCC) learning network, a national initiative promoting community connectivity and resilience, was revealed by U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock under the Inflation Reduction Act’s Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) Program.

Decades ago, the construction of I-75 divided Historic Pleasant Hill, coupled with policies like redlining and disinvestment, contributing to its decline compared to surrounding areas.

“This grant is an important opportunity to begin to address those harms,” said Tonja Khabir of PHNO. “The transparent work we’ve done…is one other neighborhoods can use.”

Alex Morrison, Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority (UDA) Executive Director, emphasized the power of coming together through the RCC process to address past injustices.

The grant will fund an urban design plan focusing on sidewalks, streetlights, transportation, and a new commercial district along Walnut Street, the primary interstate crossing. It aims to foster community engagement, infrastructure improvements, zoning changes, and anti-displacement measures.

“Our goal is to…create a sense of belonging and community cohesion,” Khabir stated, highlighting plans for appropriate commercial opportunities and infill housing.

The grant’s success follows the development of the Pleasant Hill Strategic Plan, shaped by input from over 400 community members, outlining priorities such as business development, infrastructure enhancement, blighted property rehabilitation, safe transportation, recreational spaces, violence prevention, and cultural celebration.

About Reimagining Civic Commons in Macon

Macon is one of 12 participating cities in the Reimagining the Civic Commons learning network, a national initiative which aims to demonstrate how public spaces can connect people of all backgrounds, cultivate trust, and create more resilient communities. Macon’s Civic Commons team is composed of representatives of city government, philanthropy and local nonprofits, and the team joined the network in 2020. Macon aims to be an example for the national initiative of how an innovative, strategic, and community-led approach to public space investment can lead to a more engaged, resilient city.  

“Participating in the civic commons network gives us a toolkit and process to ensure quality public space that drives value and equity in our community,” says Alex Morrison, the project’s co-lead convener and Executive Director of the Urban Development Authority. “This effort is helping us reconnect with the type of design that our city founders laid out.” 

The Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority is the convening agency for this effort. Active and engaged partners working together include the AARP, Bike Walk Macon, Causey Construction Consulting, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, Friends of Rosa Parks Square, JBK Southern, Inc., Macon-Bibb Community Enhancement Authority, Macon-Bibb County Consolidated Government, Main Street Macon Christmas Lights Extravaganza, NewTown Macon, Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, the Peyton Anderson Foundation, Rhythm and Jazz, WT Designs, the JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation.