Meridian Star

Local News

January 2, 2013

A look back at 2012

(Continued)

MERIDIAN — City Hall reopens after years of renovations

    An open house and dedication took place at Meridian's historic City Hall on Jan. 31 after six years of renovations plagued by delays and complications.

     When the city initiated the renovation project in 2004, it was expected to take around two years to complete and be paid for with just a portion of a $10 million bond loan. A number of unforeseen complications with the project led it to be dragged out for an additional four years and to cost the city approximately $25 million, including interest to be paid on the financing.

        Construction on the project began in 2006.

    In May the newly renovated City Hall was recognized by the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

    Originally built in 1915, Meridian City Hall was one of 21 preservation projects in the state awarded the demonstration of excellence in preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of Mississippi's architectural and cultural heritage, according to the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

Money woes delay work on police station

    In February, work on a new station for the Meridian Police Department was stopped because of delays in getting new market tax credits, according to project developer David Watkins.

        Watkins said at the time that the project, renovating an old grocery store building on 22nd Avenue into a new police station that will serve the entire department, was taking significantly longer than expected to finance.

    The week following the announcement, the Meridian City Council voted to stop paying Watkins Development a monthly consulting fee until work resumed on city projects.

        Meridian hired Watkins Development in October 2010 to work as a consultant for $10,000 a month, with a one year contract automatically renewable each year.

    Work resumed in June after the Meridian City Council approved a lease with Meridian Law Enforcement Center.

    A new contractor, Tim Allred of Heritage Building Corporation, was brought in to finish the project, which is still underway.

    Once completed, the city will pay rent over a period of 20 years for a minimum of $8.2 million, including $2.1 million the city will pay up front from funds derived from police department seized property.

    The annual rent will be $305,000, allowing for possible increases based on the consumer price index every five years.

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