Vicksburg’s historic and quaint downtown will soon have a new, unique offering to showcase. The nearly 75-year-old Sears Roebuck Building is gaining new life as a mixed-use development, with retail space on the bottom floor and condominiums on the second and third floors.
Jackson-based HM Williams Construction Inc. is serving as general contractor on the project that is planned for completion this month. It is working with Riverbend Land & Development Company Jackson to convert the art deco building. (Riverbend is headed by Mark Shapley, of Shapley’s restaurant fame, and noted philanthropist Hal Parker. They purchased the building after being led to it by Vicksburg Mayor Laurence Leyens.)
“The Sears building was constructed in 1935,” said Reed Nelson, president of HM Williams. “Refurbishing this historical registered structure will continue to boost Vicksburg’s commitment to restoring downtown. This project preserves a part of Vicksburg’s history while bringing modern use to it.”
Mississippi cities such as Columbus, Starkville and Oxford have had tremendous success converting historic structures into retail-over-commercial space. The key is preserving these structures’ original charm and ambiance while offering modern, convenient downtown living. The Sears Roebuck Building, located on Washington Street, certainly makes for a fine candidate.
The building, which is on the National Historical Register, encompasses 21,000 square feet. A national retailer occupies the bottom floor, while the top two floors are being converted into nine condos, work that began last November.
The condos are two bedroom, two bath averaging 1,000-1,500 square feet each, with one two-story unit encompassing 1,750 square feet and offering a great view of the Mississippi River.
Nelson said Parker and Shapley are retaining four units for corporate rental to accommodate the Vicksburg business community.
David Lum Architecture and Tom Pharr of Anchucha B&B executed the design work on the project, and went to great lengths to preserve the building’s aesthetic appeal. The units sport their original hardwood floors. The original interior brick walls are exposed in each unit, and they also feature solid surface granite countertops.
Modern amenities are also included. The project includes a fitness center and a common area clubroom for the tenants and unit owners. The developers created a rear entry and balcony that now adjoins a three-story parking garage ensuring that each tenant has individual, covered parking spaces.
Nelson said taking a historical building and stripping it down to the original floors and walls takes creativity — and adds a lot of fun to the work. It may be fun to HM Williams, but it certainly is not novel.
HM Williams was established in 2007 in Tupelo when industry veteran Mike Williams purchased an existing general construction firm. Williams has nearly 15 years of construction experience working for firms in Jackson, Fulton and Tupelo before going his own way.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.