Meridian’s recently shaky preservation ethic has been the subject of much angst here on MissPres, so it’s exciting to be able to give congratulations and kudos to Meridian mayor Percy Bland, the Meridian City Council, and the Threefoot Preservation Society for this week’s news that the Art Deco Threefoot Building, downtown Meridian’s tallest and most iconic structure, will be sold to a proven developer who promises to renovate it as a Marriott hotel. Sitting right across the street from Meridian’s successful Riley Center, and within walking distance of two major hospitals, the hotel will provide a needed service that will also, we hope, begin a major revitalization of downtown Meridian. You can almost feel a breath of fresh air rushing in where so much negativity has been for so long.
According to the Meridian Star, the sale agreement with the developer, John Tampa of Ascent Hospitality Management, included these points:
• Ascent will purchase the Threefoot Building for $10,000 cash and the city will convey the property by Quitclaim Deed in “as-is” condition.
• Ascent will begin construction and renovation no later than 12 months after acquiring ownership of the property, provided necessary approvals have been obtained from all historic preservation entities, otherwise, title and control of the property will revert back to the city.
• The city will accommodate 80 parking spaces (from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.) in the city owned parking garage, which Ascent will lease for an initial term of 10 years for $2,000 a month, with a 2 percent annual increase. Ascent will have the option to renew or extend the lease for an additional 10-year period. The parking lease shall include the usual and customary terms for parking leases.
• Provided it is allowed by state law, the city will grant a property tax exemption (except taxes for school district purpose) for a period of seven years upon completion of the development.
• The city will improve lighting, sidewalk, landscaping around the property site to accommodate valet access for the hotel, matching the area for the Mississippi State University Riley Center.
• The city will make utilities available to the property with no tap fees to the building.
• Ascent will be responsible for filing and shall submit all necessary applications with state and federal historical preservation agencies, commissions, or departments to permit construction and renovation to be undertaken. The construction and renovation shall comply with all applicable state and federal building requirements.
Built in 1929 (the same year that Jackson’s Tower Building and Plaza Building went up), the Threefoot Building was designed by C.H. Lindsley with associate architect Frank Fort, is 15 stories tall, and boasts distinctive colorful terra cotta in an Art Deco style. It was listed on the National Register in 1979 and was designated as a Mississippi Landmark by MDAH in 2008. MHT included it on its 2009 list of Mississippi’s 10 Most Endangered Places, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation included it on its national endangered list in 2011.