The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience is planning several upgrades to its property, Meridian leaders announced at a city council meeting Tuesday night.
Among the changes – artificial turf for the courtyard to replace grass that has been overused, according to Mark Tullos Jr., president and CEO of The Max.
The courtyard will also get new market lighting, which includes commercial-grade string lights, he said.
Some organizers holding functions at The Max have had to bring in supplemental lighting to keep the property safe, Tullos told the city council.
A new billboard behind the building – 20 feet by 80 feet long – will advertise what's happening at the facility and around the community.
“We hear a lot of talk about, ‘We don’t know where that building is,’” Tullos said.
The billboard, which is expected to be visible to drivers heading over the 22nd Avenue bridge, will be half digital and half static, he said.
“This is desperately needed because right now they just drive by it and they don’t know it’s there,” said Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas.
Approximately $864,000 from bonds issued in 2017 will be used for the upgrades, according to Meridian's Chief Financial Officer, Brandye Latimer.
The bonds were issued for the purpose of constructing, equipping and furnishing The Max, she said.
"It's really exciting that we're going to be able to make these improvements," Tullos said, following the meeting. "Our property is used by a number of nonprofit organizations in the city and our other partner cultural institutions use it."
Tullos said The MAX recently acquired the old Greyhound bus station on Constitution Avenue from the state, which had previously been used by Lauderdale County Tourism.
The space will be used as a performing arts studio and there are plans to acquire the adjacent parking lot, which Tullos said would help with parking issues downtown.
"We're really excited about all of this coming together," he said.