Otis Redding Arts Center hearing postponed

The Otis Redding Foundation sent us a statement saying they want to make sure everything is done right.

MACON, Ga. — A decision on whether to license a planned arts center in downtown Macon is still weeks away.

Monday, the county’s design review board was supposed to review plans for the Otis Redding Arts Center project. Monday morning, the Redding Foundation requested the postponement of this meeting. It comes after the Bibb Planning and Zoning Commission released a staff analysis report that called the center into question.

The space where the foundation plans to build the center may look like any other abandoned lot, but the foundation sees 9,000 square feet of educational space.

Tedrah Ravenell works at the front desk of the Forty Five Hotel. She’s excited for what it could bring to her favorite part of Macon.

“I love downtown Macon. It’s a lot of love here. The music, the vibe, everything,” Ravenell said. “Lots of new restaurants that I love. Lots of things happening, I see lots of art.”

She says it’s busy, but not too busy, and has a lot of history; especially the history of music. The way she sees it: “The Reddings are pretty much history.”

That’s why she has a problem with the Macon-Bibb Design Review Board staff analysis that says the main center building is not compatible with the historic look of downtown Macon. They released a report last week that said, “New construction should never compete with neighboring historic buildings.

Ravenell says that since the Reddings are part of the story, the design shouldn’t matter.

“The fact that they’re making this possible is beautiful. I think it will be perfect. Even though it’s fanciful, it’s the story behind it,” Ravenell said.

The foundation says the two-story center will include lab spaces, practice rooms and studios, all focused on education. Ravenell thinks this might lead some people to see her at the hotel reception.

“We can definitely use the business. This hotel is quite new. It would definitely add, especially with the music on the first Fridays,” she said.

The next Design Review Board meeting will be on September 6th. That’s when they’ll decide if this project can go ahead, just three days before the planned groundbreaking begins.

Once the board of review has made its decision, it is forwarded to the planning and zoning commission. They make the last call. The Otis Redding Foundation sent us this statement:

“For nearly 15 years, the Otis Redding Foundation has worked tirelessly on this lifelong dream. Otis dreamed of a place where young people in our community could come to be inspired by music and the arts. We want to ensure that this facility will be designed and equipped to meet the needs of our community for decades to come, and we have a chance to do it right. Today we respectfully asked the Design Review Board to postpone our meeting until we have a more finalized version of the site plan and renderings for their in-depth review.

William E. Bennett