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Sale of Margaret Martin progresses

NATCHEZ — City of Natchez officials are moving forward with appraising the historic Margaret Martin facility before selling the building to the owners of Dunleith Historic Inn.

The J Collection, a New Orleans-based hotel group that purchased Dunleith in November, submitted a letter to city officials which states they intend to make a formal offer of $75,000 for the property which includes the former school building and gym, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said in a Tuesday meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Gibson said to renovate the facility according to historic guidelines would cost the company approximately $6 million.

The renovated property, as proposed by the J Collection group, would be a multi-purpose facility housing the existing auditorium with meeting rooms, hotel rooms and a spa, cooking school and possibly an art school, Gibson said.

“There is a large expense to renovate the building according to historic guidelines being that it is a historic landmark,” Gibson said.

Before the purchase price is finalized, Gibson said both the buying company and the city would seek appraisals on the property.

“We are not stating the price yet. A lot will be determined by the appraisals and what the board chooses to do at that time,” Gibson said.

The measure to move forward with the appraisals was approved by a vote of 5-1 with Alderman Billie Joe Frazier voting “nay.”

In other matters during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the board:

* Unanimously accepted a short-term tax anticipation loan from Home Bank for $1,000,000, at an interested rate of 2.03%. Officials said the loan is meant to bridge shortfalls in the city’s revenue to cover expenses and is to be paid back within the year as sales taxes are received.

* Unanimously approved advertising for cleaning adjudicated properties and for beautification projects around the city.

* Discussed reimbursement for storm damage caused by Hurricane Delta from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Gibson said the city might not meet the damage threshold for reimbursement from FEMA. However, Gibson said officials have submitted forms for possible reimbursement from MEMA of approximately $369,000 spent on labor for cleaning up debris.