Meridian Star

Local News

April 10, 2008

Project moves forward

What was once expected to begin this month — the selective demolition phase of the Threefoot building's renovation into a hotel — is now set to begin in about another two months.

But don't be alarmed at the word demolition — they're not going to tear the building down, but will remove certain elements of it, similarly to what was done to the Marks-Rothenberg Building and the Grand Opera House before they became the MSU-Riley Center.

Hal Fairbanks, project manager for HRI properties, the company that is overseeing the project, said he expects the constructive phase of the renovation to begin around the end of the year.

Fairbanks said that the renovation, which he estimates will take 15 to 18 months to complete once the constructive phase is started, will take place "subject to all our financing plans working out."

"There are always financing problems on a project like this until you get it closed," Fairbanks said. "These projects take time to build a consensus of financial arrangements, which often involve the public."

Fairbanks expressed confidence that any financing problems will be resolved, though, and said he expects all financial issues

to be set in stone by this fall, saying, "It's never easy but I don't foresee anything that could kill the project."

Meridian Chief Administrative Officer Ken Storms said the financing process is extremely complicated, involving several different entities, including the developer, the city, and a "community development entity" called the Meridian Redevelopment Authority, as well as the use of both new market and historic tax credits.

"It's like playing a football game," Storms said, "but bringing in baseball rules during the first quarter and basketball rules for the second quarter, and somehow in the end it all comes together."

Storms said the mayor's office is in the process of putting together an explanatory chart of the project's current financing situation. He also said that he does not foresee any reason for any of the city's $10 million line of credit to be used to finance the project.

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