A portion of College Street that runs through Mercer University’s Macon campus is being transformed into a pedestrian-friendly, attractive and enjoyable space.
Construction is now underway on the project, which will be done in two phases and is expected to be finished by mid-December. The centerpiece is the creation of a circular green space, similar to Cruz Plaza but smaller, in front of the Connell Student Center. Brick pavers will replace the current asphalt.
“Public spaces that are functional, are attractive and beautiful, and are designed in such a way so that you enjoy being there are really important,” said Dr. James Netherton, executive vice president for administration and finance at Mercer.
The project also includes the construction of a new campus entrance on Coleman Avenue, additional landscaping and lighting, and a sand volleyball court near the residence halls.
The parking lot in front of the Connell Student Center will be removed, and the School of Medicine lot will be reconfigured to offset the parking loss. Outdated infrastructure and underground utilities will be replaced as well.
The changes are aimed at providing a better campus experience for students, particularly the nearly 3,000 undergraduates who live on campus, Dr. Netherton said. He compared the project to the construction of Cruz Plaza, which previously was a road for maintenance vehicles, lined with a sidewalk that ran along prickly bushes.
“It turned an area that used to be an eyesore into an area that’s incredibly beautiful and incredibly functional,” he said.
Many Mercer students will leave campus to become leaders in their communities. Experiencing functional and attractive public spaces in college can influence how they view development around them.
“When you expose them to places like this that work well and are attractive, hopefully they’ll be advocates for places that are both functional and beautiful,” Dr. Netherton said.