Drew Staudenmaier, associate editor
Irony is an interesting thing.
Earlier this month the Royal Theatre had part of it’s facade fall off. This incident prompted us to begin looking into the state of Macon’s downtown. Last week nearly a month after the first incident, the old Swindon Family Pharmacy building began to collapse and was slated for destruction. The week before the second incident, we had just wrapped up our series looking into downtown.
So is Macon’s downtown falling apart? The recent events of last week would seem to confirm that suspicion. The question now becomes, can downtown be saved?
Downtown areas all over America fight this battle, and some come out for the better while others just crumble away. Macon’s downtown is just a shadow of it’s former glory, but there are still some bright spots in the area.
There are still the downtown staples like Miller Rexall, Macon Frames, Tux Tees and More (formerly JP’s Corner Market), Ben Franklin, Sims Jewelry and others that have endured over the years. But, even those places cannot stop Macon’s downtown from crumbling.
Macon’s downtown needs some serious financial investment in order to turn around. New businesses are great, but they need to have a good reason to be in a specific location. With many buildings deteriorating, our downtown is not the most attractive area to start a business. A new business owner has enough concerns besides trying to restore an old decrepit location.
If people want to see Macon’s downtown revived they are going to have to step up and do it, not just complain about it. There are groups like the Macon Downtown Association which work on restoring our historic downtown, but they alone cannot fix everything. It has become quite clear that without some serious intervention, Macon’s downtown will just crumble away.
However, nature has it’s own interesting irony. Wildfires are very destructive forces, but are actually very good for the environment. According to National Geographic, wildfires help the environment by returning nutrients to the soil, getting rid of disease ridden plants and taking out harmful underbrush so new seedlings can grow.
Maybe in the coming demolition of a couple buildings something good will come out of it. Clearing away the old for something new may be the answer our downtown needs. Sure, it is sad to see old buildings crumble and fall away with all their cherished memories and history, but think of the possibilities it could open up.
Is downtown falling apart? Yes, but is it a bad thing? That is something that can only be answered with time.