After the Meridian City Council on Tuesday refused to vote on a local architect’s proposal to purchase the city's old police station, further discussion ended in a decision to table the vote for another day.
But whether or not the proposal will get the support of the full council remains to be seen.
After lengthy discussion, the council agreed to discuss the proposal at its next work session.
Local architect John Purdy, who also owns Threefoot Brewery, wants to purchase the building on Sixth Street for about $45,000 and convert it into a Threefoot Brewery tap room.
The rest of the space, he said, would be leased to other businesses “that would work with the area and work hand-in-hand” with the tap room.
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“From what I can tell from the history, there hasn’t been a whole lot of interest in that particular piece of property,” Purdy said. “I think I am the only one to come forward with a serious offer in the last three to four years.
“Architecturally, I have a ton of interest in it. I would love to restore it… I think it’s also in a good location for what I’m trying to do.”
Constructed in 1977, the building was recognized as a historical landmark in June 2015 by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. It's been empty since the city moved the police department to its current location on 22nd Avenue in 2013.
Mayor Percy Bland told the council that a 36-month reverter clause would be included in the sale, which would allow the city to reclaim the property if the expected progress has not been made. This proposal, he said, will help the city take another step in the downtown revitalization effort.
Ward 4 City Councilwoman Kim Houston said she needed more information before she would make a decision.
“Maybe there was a for-sale sign that I missed,” Houston said. “I didn’t even know it was available for someone to purchase.”
Houston said the item was not included on any recent work session agendas, which didn’t give her or the rest of the council enough time to study the proposal.
“I’m not totally against it, but I do want to have more detailed discussion about who, what, when, where and why because I thought we had a completely different vision about downtown,” Houston said. “There are just a lot of unknowns for us to just jump into this.”
Ward 5 City Councilman Weston Lindemann agreed that such items should be presented at a work session.
Bland said he takes full responsibility for not giving the council enough time to review the proposal, but he feels this is “a positive” move for Meridian.
“I do think the city council will agree with me that this is an economic development opportunity for the city, especially when you have someone locally who is willing to invest, and the city looks forward to seeing this opportunity move forward,” the mayor said, adding that he is “just trying to make lemonade out of lemons.”
“But we’re going to move Meridian forward,” he said.