Updated: New Lafayette strip center claims to offer fastest Internet speeds in Southeast

LAFAYETTE – A new Macon County strip center – one that boosts some of the fastest Internet speeds in the Southeast – recently celebrated the completion of its first phase of construction.

Phase one of The Maple Hill Center of Lafayette is officially open for operation. Built on 7.5 acres in the city’s busiest retail area on Highway 52 in Lafayette, the center includes five spaces ranging from 1,000- 2,400 square feet in size.

Maple Hill is the first center of its kind in Lafayette in more than 12 years, officials said, and is the first brick center. It also offers 100 MG in/out fiberoptic, an effort to lure tech companies and boost local economy. More costly, but a big benefit to business, William Carter, the project’s investor, said.

“If your business needs that, you have a lot of capability,” he said. “ With the technology that North Central (Telephone Cooperative) brought in, it was the biggest plus, so we sat down with them to get the maximum capacity. Technology is (the driver).”

The project also touts another unique feature. It is the first of its kind to use all local contractors since the 1980s. General contractor Chris Crowder of Crowder Construction said he had about eight employees who worked on the project; he’s been in business 12 years.

“Lafayette’s not a small, small town, but it is (in some ways),” Crowder said. “We wanted to build the nicest place in town and attract higher-end renters.

“It’s been real great for us,” he added. “When the building was going up, people didn’t realize what it was…it was the talk of the town. Now that it’s complete, everyone’s bragging on it.”

More than 65 local residents were involved in the project. Beside Crowder, contractors included: The Concrete Company, owner Andrea Crowder; Miller Framing Co., owner David Miller; Bransford Electrical and Mechanical Services Inc., owner Phillip Bransford; Mendoza Masonry Contractor, owner Diego Mendoza; Macon Glass Service, owner Stephen Moss; Freeman and Sons Drywall Inc., owners Randy and Billy Freeman; Sandifer Construction LLC, owner Chuck Sandifer; McDonald Trucking, owner Kelly McDonald; Howard Excavating Service, owner Greg Howard; and Macon Tool and Dye, manager David Sullivan.

“It worked out well,” Carter said. “Once the building took shape, everyone seemed to take more pride in their work, and we had a lot less problems. Everybody has gotten on board with the concept of what we were trying to do.

“The idea is basically the same as the farm to table concept – keep it as close and use as much local as you can,” he added. “We’re just really proud to have used as many local people as we were.”

Carter expects to begin phase two of the project within the next 12-24 months. Phase three is on a four- to six-year timeline. Carter estimates around $1 million has been spent on The Maple Hill Center so far. It’s a cost he considers a worthwhile investment.

“I was born and raised here. If somebody doesn’t step up, no one will,” Carter said. “Lafayette seems poised to grow. I hope everyone (takes notice).”