Imagine the Possibilities: Downtown showcase coming
Published 12:06 am Sunday, October 5, 2014
NATCHEZ — A group of economic development professionals and real estate representatives are asking the Miss-Lou to look at downtown Natchez and see the possibilities.
Reviving last year’s first-time effort, Natchez Inc. and Alcorn State University will host the Possibilities Tour in downtown Natchez Nov. 8.
“We are going to have between 10 and 12 properties on Main and Franklins streets open to the public,” Natchez Inc. Communications Manager Aimee Guido said.
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“It is essentially a very large open house for commercial downtown businesses in the hope that someone will want to do a long-term lease to have their business there or purchase it and turn it into condos or things like that.”
Ruth Nichols, ASU’s vice president for educational and community partnerships, said the tour is an effort to link the open spaces in the downtown district to a nationwide movement to revitilize downtowns.
“This tour really fits into that (movement), and I think that is a sort of positive air about it,” Nichols said.
“It is better than just one open house on Commerce or Main streets. It is a focus on a lot of buildings, and people have the opportunity to see a lot of properties in one afternoon. Instead of an individual realtor taking them there and putting on a hard sale, they are getting to see the buildings without a lot of pressure and still get the exposure.”
Patrick and Lisa Miller were looking for a downtown space to open their craft beer brewery — Natchez Brewing Company — last year, and came to a decision about a space after the Possibilities Tour last November.
“We had looked at several buildings before, some on Main Street and a couple of others on Franklin Street, and we had looked at the space we’ve got now before,” Patrick Miller said.
“My wife was able to go take a look, compare several at the same day and find what we needed. It made it a lot easier time wise.”
Natchez Brewing Company has since located to 413 Franklin St., and is scheduled to open later this year.
Realtor Charlotte Copeland said she can’t remember another time the area’s real estate community has worked together in quite the same way.
“I can’t recall us banding together like this,” she said. “Sometimes we get together and have more than one company have an open house on a Sunday afternoon, but I don’t think we have ever gotten together and been this enthusiastic and had this much promotion for a single area.”
The date for the tour was chosen because it coincided with a downtown chili cook-off, the Natchez Antiques Forum and the annual Angels on the Bluff cemetery tour, Guido said.
“We did that on purpose because there will be people outside in downtown looking for things to do,” she said. “To be able to walk in and check out an old empty building, you never know what building will speak to a person and make them want to start their own business or expand to a downtown location instead.”
Nichols said the tour had to focus on properties managed by Realtors because of the limited force organizing it, but those who own buildings downtown are welcome to open their spaces on their own and participate.
The tour will also feature local artists displaying their work in the spaces on tour.
“We want to spotlight our creative economy as well with the local artisans set up in the buildings and hope the public would like to take some time and come see that,” Guido said.
Nichols said the tour will be promoted around the state through the participating Realtors’ connections, and communities from around Mississippi have contacted the organizers about last year’s efforts.
The key, she said, is getting people to see the spaces and imagine themselves in them.
“Some people are interested in the future, and some people are just nosy and want to see what is in there,” Nichols said. “But we don’t care if you’re nosy or you want to buy buildings, come on.”