CLEVELAND – In downtown Cleveland, the old Grover Hotel has become a community project of sorts.
History buffs, preservationists and community leaders have taken to task the renovation of the landmark structure.
“The Grover Hotel is set in an incredibly vibrant retail area,” said Bob Wilson, director of program services for the Mississippi Main Street Association. “Its potential
opens up a whole new market to developers.”
Built in 1926, the five-story, 20,000-square-foot hotel was purchased by the City of Cleveland for $35,000 in 1996. About $20,000 has been spent on
improvements, including asbestos removal, a new roof and a structural engineer’s report that concluded the facility was structurally sound, said Wayne Cole, city
“The city has contracted with independent consultants to provide a feasibility study on the old hotel, with a report due probably by mid-November,” Cole said. “We
all think it’s great. But we have to look at it from a business standpoint. We want to wait and see what it looks like from an objective third-party before we put more
money into it.”
Ned Mitchell, president of Mississippi Main Street Association and president of The Mitchell Insurance Group in Cleveland, said the city’s historic district, in existence
for nearly a year, is well occupied and restored for use, with the exception of the hotel.
“Team Cleveland and the city both arranged for a contractor to clean out the hotel and tear down bad partitions, and the city paid for other work to be done,” Mitchell
said. “Right now, we’re trying to get the city to clean up the outside, put in good windows and doors and make it into a spec building. But they think it’s too big an
investment without a prospect. The feasibility study could, for example, show that the building could be turned into a nice hotel or living facilities for faculty and staff at
nearby Delta State.”
Last year, Delta State University in Cleveland listed 630 employees and more than 4,000 students.
Ann Dilworth, manager of Team Cleveland, similar to a main street association but an organization that serves the entire city, and special events coordinator for the
Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, said she’d like to see the former hotel restored as such.
Last year, the city established the Heritage Commission. Before exterior work can be done in the downtown area, the commission must grant approval, Dilworth said.
“Every month, at least two people come before the commission, which shows me they are interested in keeping the downtown pretty because they want to fix it up,”
she said. “That will help us keep our downtown viable and preserve the historical integrity of the buildings.”
Located midway between Memphis and Vicksburg on U.S. 61, Cleveland is considered by many as the hub of the Mississippi Delta, and has been recognized as one
of the 100 best small towns in America. Shopping in downtown Cleveland has been compared by at least one Memphis shopper as “what shopping in Germantown
(Tenn.) used to be like.”
Every year, Team Cleveland’s fund-raising events have gained in attendance, with proceeds that fund special city beautification projects, such as north and south
entrance signs to the city, landscaping, a sprinkler system and period street signs in downtown Cleveland.
Team Cleveland’s primary fundraiser, the Southern Home Ideas Expo, recently wrapped up its eighth annual event, which drew about 70 exhibitors and 3,000
attendees from the Delta, including Arkansas and Louisiana, said Linda Collins, event chairperson since its inception.
Vicki Fioranelli, director of career services and placement at DSU, said Cleveland is fortunate to have a viable, attractive and bustling downtown area. “When I take
out of town family and friends ‘to town’, they always comment on our unique shops and friendly merchants.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 853-3967.