Possibilities Tour will showcase potential of downtown buildings
NATCHEZ — Natchez-Adams County economic development officials are hoping locals and visitors imagine the possibilities for 15 vacant buildings in downtown Natchez.
The Possibilities Tour, “Turning Deserted Spaces into Dynamic Places,” rolls out the red carpet from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, highlighting 14 locations on Franklin and Main streets, along with the Lombardo building on Canal Street.
Natchez Inc., Alcorn State University and Mississippi Development Authority are sponsoring the tour.
Ruth Nichols, Alcorn’s vice president for educational and community partnership, said she anticipates a mix of locals and out-of-towners participating Saturday.
“People have called and asked about investment property, apartments they can renovate and buildings they can use as a meeting space,” Nichols said. “Some people are just nosey. They want to see what is inside these buildings. We hope there is going to be a lot of activity on Saturday.”
The tour is focused for business developers and entrepreneurs; however, it is open to anyone at no charge.
Those interested in touring some or all of the locations are asked to start at Crye-Leike Stedman Realtors on Main Street to pick up a map of the locations and a Natchez informational bag. The Historic Natchez Foundation is also providing information developers might need on historic building renovation and tax credit availability.
“We are also providing local lender information if someone feels they just have to buy something that day,” Nichols said. “All of the buildings will have balloons out front. Even if you are just walking down the street, you will see the buildings and can walk in if you want to.”
Also in each building, artists will be on hand showing their pictures and creations. In addition, Natchez Inc. Project Manager Chris Hinton said architect Johnny Waycaster of Waycaster & Associates Architects is providing designs illustrating renovation possibilities that will be available at each location.
Hinton said other local sponsors include the Mississippi Main Street Association and the Natchez Downtown Development Association.
Each entity has used partnerships in their fields to promote the event, which Hinton said is the first of its kind. Hinton has promoted the event through the Southern Economic Development Council, of which he is a member and includes representatives from 17 states and Washington, D.C.
“We have promoted this event statewide and in other states,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of marketing for this. It is not just restricted to our local area or region. We’ve done it nationally.”
Natchez Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith said the tour is a great way to promote economic development options for downtown’s many empty buildings.
“It is my hope that it will also spur some excitement with other property and business owners to take a look at their own businesses and see if there is anything with the building that can be done to spruce up our downtown,” she said. “You get so used to seeing something everyday, and you don’t always think of it through the eyes of a visitor or customer.”
Smith said the city will make sure alleys near tour stops are cleared to enhance local efforts.