This mid-week news round-up is less varied than last week’s round-up, but it still features some good information.
Starting off with some concerning news regarding several large rehabilitation projects in both Gulfport and Natchez.
Virginia attorney Robert Lubin has assured city leaders construction will soon begin on both. Lubin said his group has financing for Markham redevelopment. The group also has bought the parcel just south of the Markham. He plans to turn the Markham into luxury apartments, possibly with a restaurant on the first floor. Lubin told the Sun Herald on Tuesday that 64 one- to three-bedroom apartments will rent for an average of $1,800 a month…
As for the old VA property, now known as Centennial Plaza, Lubin’s group is teaming with New Orleans developer Stewart Juneau. Juneau first announced plans two years ago for a Holiday Inn Resort, festival marketplace and other development on the 57 acres the federal government deeded to the city after Hurricane Katrina.
The city’s redevelopment agency, the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission, now owns both properties, along with harbor property where Lubin is involved in a proposed casino development…
In Natchez, construction on the former Eola Hotel, also owned by Lublin, was delayed earlier this year when in March, a portion of the exterior wall fell into the Eola’s courtyard after two days of heavy rain and winds, but work is expected to begin this fall according to the Natchez Democrat.
Each of these projects rely on Lubin’s securing funding from a federal program known as EB-5. This program allows a foreign national to obtain a visa if said individual has invested $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area – high unemployment or rural areas such as Mississippi), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers, excluding the investor and their immediate family. The program originally began in 1990 but is set to expire at the end of September if it is not renewed. Lubin says many investors are waiting to see if the program will be renewed. On a separate casino site Lubin has leased in Gulfport, he has only secured 18 EB-5 investors for a project that needs between 70 and 80 such investors to secure financing. If one can speculate that the Eola, Markham, and VA sites are playing second fiddle to a casino, the securing of their funding is even further behind.
With Congress going into a Lame Duck session there doesn’t seem to be much hope that the program will be renewed. If EB-5 is not renewed what are Mr. Lubin’s plans for restoring these historic Mississippi places?
Other news from Gulfport is hopefully good for 33rd Avenue School. Of an announced $3.9 million in federal grants to benefit Gulfport…
$581,000 Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] will go to support community development projects near the Gulfport Job Corps Center, 3300 20th St. CDBG funds are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and are designed to better enable local governments to expand economic opportunities and housing options for low and middle-income residents.
Hopefully by “projects near by” they are referring to the historically important 33 Avenue High School itself. The structure was built in 1954 as Gulfport’s African-American High School under Mississippi’s Equalization program. The U.S. Department of Labor has shamefully neglected the building since it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina more that a decade ago. The school complex was listed as one of Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 most endangered historic places in 2013, with an update of “no progress” in 2015. $581,000 would be a start but due to the fact that the building has been left exposed for so long more work will need to be done than was needed when the building was first damaged.
Back to Natchez, the city received a notification from MDAH that the temporary modifications to turn Margaret Martin Auditorium into a stand-in location for New York City’s Apollo Theater in the movie Move On Up (2014) need to be undone.
The temporary renovations were approved by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) under the condition that they would be removed 45 days after filming wrapped at the center. Natchez Festival of Music representatives, however, requested the additions be allowed to stay up, saying Natchez could benefit from tourism related to visitors wanting to see where the movie was filmed…
…“The reason the board gave an extension is because of the idea that it would have some tourism value when people want to see sites associated with the film,” said Jim Woodrick, director of historic preservation for MDAH…
…Woodrick said it is important the center be returned to its original state because of the historic character of the landmark building. “It’s just a basic precept of historic preservation,” he said. “You don’t want to give a false impression of something that wasn’t there.”
In Columbus, as part of his Eagle Scout Project, Boy Scout Eli Box is seeking to restore the Statue of Liberty replica. According to Wikipedia;
“Between 1949 and 1952, approximately two hundred 100-inch (2.5 m) replicas of the statue, were purchased by Boy Scout troops and donated in 39 states in the U.S. and several of its possessions and territories. The project was the brainchild of Kansas City businessman, J.P. Whitaker, who was then Scout Commissioner of the Kansas City Area Council.”
Sounds similar to the E.M. Viquesny Doughboy statue in Meridian. Does anyone know if there are other similar lady liberty statues in Mississippi? The statues were manufactured by Friedley-Voshardt Company of Chicago, Illinois and purchased through the Kansas City Boy Scout office. The statues are approximately 8 1⁄2 feet tall without the base, weigh 290 pounds, and originally cost $350 plus freight.” Wikipedia mentions that the statue is stamped copper, but after reading about Biloxi’s 23 k gold plate and bronze “Golden Fisherman” statue, I’m willing to bet little lady liberty is made of an alloy. No difference what she’s made of, it’s what she stands for.
Eli says he’ll enlist help from nearby college art students. He wants to have the statue rededicated on its 66th anniversary; December 7, 2016. Good luck Eli! We look forward to the progress and completed project.
On her blog, Suzassippi has been delving into the stalled out Farish Street project in Jackson.
In Lumberton, the Lumberton Museum project is no longer at a stand still as the c. 1905 structure with what appears to be a mid 20th century facade, receives a new roof thanks to the efforts of the Lumberton Museum Committee. The project still has a ways to go, with work needed to reverse termite damage.
Hey shutter bugs! Wikipedia Commons is hosting a campaign to improve the coverage of U.S. historic and cultural sites. Photographing monuments is the main focus of this event, though a side-goal is to write and improve Wikipedia’s coverage of monuments. If you write or improve any articles, please report them here. While any and all historical sites are subject to inclusion Wikipedia suggests sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, State-level(Mississippi Landmarks), and local sites. If you’re still stumped for a subject, perhaps check the MDAH HRI database to find an inventory of some historic places near you. This contest is over at the end of September so get to clickin’ shutter bugs. Also consider sharing any photos with the Preservation in Mississippi Flickr page.
How to Participate
Step 1: Review the rules, and ask questions if you have any.
Step 2: Don’t have a Wikimedia Commons account yet? Create one – takes just a few moments!
Step 3: Find historical and cultural monuments in the United States.
Step 4: Take photos of the monuments. Try different angles!
Step 5: Classify your photos. Record your sites’ names, descriptions, and dates for when you upload your photos.
Step 6: Upload your photos to Wikimedia Commons during the month of September. Use the upload links on this page to be counted towards this event!
It has been 12 years since architect E. Fay Jones death on August 31, 2004. We are fortunate to have several of his structures here in Mississippi. While Jones was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright and taught at University of Oklahoma under Bruce Goff, there is no denying that his designs were his own. The MDAH HRI database list is by no means exhaustive of Jones’ work in Mississippi, but does list several designs that are open to the public. https://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/rpt.aspx?rpt=artisanSearch&Name=Jones%2C%20E.%20Fay&City=Any&Role=Any …
Lastly, if you live near the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area, FEMA is seeking a variety of skilled workers, including historic preservation specialists. These are full-time jobs, but of temporary duration, with benefits including health insurance, sick leave and holiday pay. To apply, visit http://www.laworks.net.
If you have any additional information about any of these stories, or if you have preservation news from your neck of the woods, please let us know by leaving a comment.
Categories: Columbus, Demolition/Abandonment, Gulfport, Historic Preservation, Hotels, MDAH, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, News Roundups, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Renovation Projects