Aldermen take steps toward center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 1999

The board of aldermen took a few more steps Tuesday toward a downtown convention center.

The board approved a contract to purchase the last lot on the convention center property, currently owned by Dennis Switzer.

That deal will be finalized today, said City Attorney Walter Brown. The convention center and a proposed hotel will be located on two downtown blocks bordered by Main and Franklin and Broadway and Wall streets.

Email newsletter signup

The board also approved a contract with Charles Gibson for demolition of two of the lots on Main Street. That project will cost a total of $9,000.

Brown also told the board that the city’s bond attorneys closed a deal for bond restructuring, a plan which will generate more upfront money for the city for the convention center project.

&uot;We’re now in a position to be on a more level basis for the next 17 years,&uot; Brown said.

The city will now restructure its $6 million bonds – those that were taken out in 1986, 1993, 1994 and 1997 – and consolidate the debt at a 5.1 percent rate. The latest of the bonds was due to be paid off in 2012; now the consolidated bond will be due in 2017.

&uot;This gets the convention center off the ground without having to increase taxes,&uot; Brown said.

He said the board hopes it will never have to increase taxes to pay for the center if tourism tax and ad valorem tax revenue increases.

Last month, the board authorized up to $12 million in bonds to pay for the convention center project, which will include renovations to the city auditorium and to the old Service Motor Company building, which will be turned into a community center.

The board has contracted with architectural firm Waycaster & Associates of Natchez to work on all three convention center projects. Waycaster will work with JH&H of Jackson on the convention center itself. A city timeline calls for construction to begin next spring, with completion by spring 2001.