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Tour opens possibilities downtown

A crowd of interested residents and dowtown art lovers crowded one of the buildings that was opened for the annual Possibilities Tour. The building on Franklin Street was also filled with art by local artist Katelee Laird. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

A crowd of interested residents and dowtown art lovers crowded one of the buildings that was opened for the annual Possibilities Tour. The building on Franklin Street was also filled with art by local artist Katelee Laird. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The normally empty building at 411 Franklin St., was filled Saturday with paintings, people and conversation.

The building was one of several stops on this year’s Possibilities Tour, “Turning Deserted Spaces Into Dynamic Places.”

The tour, the product of a partnership with Alcorn State University, Natchez Inc. and Natchez Realtors, spotlighted empty buildings in downtown Natchez. Local Realtors and agents were stationed in each building, ready to speak to any curious visitors.

Other buildings also had area residents displaying their talents, such as artist Katelee Laird, whose paintings were at 411 Franklin St.

It’s Laird’s third time participating in the tour. Laird said the tour is a special time for her since she does not regularly show her artwork.

“No one ever really sees my art unless they come to this,” Laird said.

One of Laird’s friends, Drew David, came out to support her, but also intended to visit some of the other stops.

“This is just a very cool thing for Natchez,” David said. “It gets some properties exposed that people might not have noticed.”

To broker Charlotte Copeland, owner of Century 21 River Cities Realty, the tour also acts as advertising. By 3 p.m., someone had already texted her about their interest in properties she represented on 406 and 408 Franklin St., stops on the tour.

“You never know when you’re advertising what sparks an interest,” Copeland said.

During the tour, Copeland showed off 520 Main St. Unlike many of the other stops, the Main Street building is not empty, but houses Kimbrell’s Office Supply.

But Copeland said the owners are looking to move into a smaller space, creating opportunities for the next owner to change the large building.

“It could be anything,” Copeland said.

The tour wasn’t just for buyers and friends though, as it also coincided with the downtown Second Saturday event, which aims to attract more shoppers to downtown shops.

Annette Holder, who owns Mrs. Holder’s Antiques, visited several stops on the tour. As a downtown business owner, Holder said she likes seeing anything new in the area.

“We’ve got great buildings,” Holder said. “We just need to use them.”

Another tour-goer was Madeline England, who said the tour helped people visualize what could go in the spaces.

“A lot of us have ideas about things Natchez needs, and this makes us think a little more concretely on how to make those things happen and where they could go,” England said.

Anyone struck by an idea about what the building could become could write it down on notecards at the different locations. The notecards were then entered into a drawing for the chance to win a prize later in the month.

Since, in the end, the tour was all about possibilities.