New Plans Unveiled for Alexander IV Senior Living Center

Staff Report

Monday, June 29th, 2020

A historic Macon school closed for more than 10 years will be reborn as an upscale senior living center by next year, officials announced Thursday. 

Representatives of Historic Macon, Macon-Bibb County, Dover Signature Properties, Piedmont Construction Group, Design Innovation Architects and the Ingleside neighborhood gathered at the former Alexander IV Elementary School on Ridge Avenue to hear plans for Alexander IV Senior Living. 

The school building, which was on Historic Macon’s first Fading Five list of endangered properties in the county, will be transformed into a 60-unit assisted living center with public spaces that the community can use. The center also will include a new 19,000-square-foot “memory care” wing for residents with Alzheimer’s disease, built in an architecturally compatible design. 

The total cost of renovation and new construction on the six-acre campus is estimated at $12.5 million. The project is scheduled for completion by spring 2021. 

"Dover Signature Properties is thrilled to be working in Macon and the historic Ingleside neighborhood,” said Rick Dover, the Knoxville, Tenn., company’s managing director. “We've built our entire company around bringing iconic buildings like the Alexander IV school back to life, and we look forward to sharing this with the community. It’s what we love to do." (People interested in leasing at Alexander IV Senior Living can contact Rick Dover directly at rick@doversignature.com.) 

Wilkes Evans, Piedmont’s director of preconstruction, added, “A lot of hard work has gone into the planning of this project by the entire team. It is particularly exciting to be a part of the preservation of one of the original properties on Macon’s Fading Five list from 2015 and seeing Alex IV continuing to be a symbol of pride in the Ingleside neighborhood.” 

The 28,000-square-foot school building, located at 3769 Ridge Ave., was built in 1932. Its distinctive architecture has features reminiscent of an Alpine Mountain village. It quickly became part of the fabric of the Ingleside neighborhood, with residents often using the school’s playground and outdoor basketball court or voting inside the school.

“It is a magnificent building,” said Faris Eid of Design Innovation Architects. “It is perfect for its new use, and we are thrilled to be working on it and working again with Dover Signature Properties.”

More classrooms and a lunchroom were added in 1948, but the school’s doors closed to students in 2008. The Bibb County school board declared it surplus property in 2013, and the Macon-Bibb County Land Bank Authority bought it in 2016, thanks to blight bond proceeds that Commissioner Mallory Jones earmarked for the project. The Ingleside neighborhood also was named a historic district that year, with the school being a contributing property.

Historic Macon sought opinions about appropriate uses for the building during a public meeting in 2016 and then sought proposals from developers. A neighbor-led review committee weighed in, and Historic Macon announced late that year that Dover’s proposal had been selected.

“Calling attention to something is not enough,” Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert said of preservation efforts. “It takes vision, initiative and perseverance” to pull off such an ambitious project. But the finished product — and the ripples from it — will make it all worthwhile. “When all  this comes together, it’s a remarkable revitalization.” 

“This project shows you what can happen when partners work together,” said Ethiel Garlington, Historic Macon’s executive director. “We’re excited about what’s in store for a place that this community holds so dear.”