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December 22, 2009

Threefoot dead ... for now

HRI sent e-mail Tues. to city to terminate project

HRI Properties is walking away from the Threefoot project ... at least for now.

The New Orleans based developer — Historic Renovations sent the City of Meridian an e-mail Tuesday alerting them they were terminating their agreement with the city to renovate downtown Meridian's Threefoot building into an upscale hotel.

Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry said she received the e-mail from HRI at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday saying they were "not moving forward with the Threefoot project."

"As stated in the letter, the City and HRI will look down the road for future projects and possibly even resume the Threefoot Project under different circumstances and different finances," Barry said in a prepared statement.

The city is expected to pay up to $1 million to HRI within 30 days of the termination of the redevelopment agreement, said Josh Collen, vice president of development for HRI. Barry said she expects the city to honor that agreement, though it is unclear when, or how much, the city will end up paying. HRI has sent the city more than 400 pages of receipts showing the money they've spent on the project, which totals about $1.25 million.

Tuesday's e-mail cited two reasons for their withdrawal: lack of 100 percent support from Mayor Barry and drainage repairs needed downtown, specifically at the Threefoot, officials said. Barry has said the city is not in financial position to move forward with the project. Some city officials did not want to back a $14 million loan — through issuing bonds — for the project. Collen said city officials told him it also could cost about $2 million to make some needed storm drainage improvements for downtown.

"I understand the mayor taking the position that the city has some financial issues right now," Collen said. "We absolutely respect that ... we don't have all the information she has, but we respect that."

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