HATTIESBURG — If Daniel Jussely and Rob Tatum have their way, downtown Hattiesburg soon will be a cultural hub of “urbanite lifestyle” in Mississippi.
As co-owners of Hub City Lofts, Jussely and Tatum are rejuvenating two of the Hub City’s oldest buildings, converting them into more than 50 loft-style apartments and more than 14,000 square feet of commercial space.
The America Building, which was originally built in 1907 as the Ross Building, will host four retail spots on the first floor and 20 apartment spots on the top four floors.
The six-story Carter Building — which has been a Hattiesburg fixture since 1904 — will have 9,685 square feet of retail space, along with 32 apartments that will command 26,060 square feet of residential space.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity we have here,” Jussely said. “We’ve gotten an enormous response from all different age groups interested in spaces, and we’re looking forward to being part of the community downtown.”
The America Building will see its first tenants in the next couple months. Jussely and Tatum will begin accepting leases for the apartments on June 1, and residents can start moving in July 1.
The building will have 4,408 square feet of retail space and 17,927 square feet of residential living space.
The America Building’s first retail tenants — Wigbar Salon and Bodybar Fitness — will follow in September. The two businesses will be owned and operated by Adam Myrick and Jason Le Viere, co-owners of Click Boutique.
Le Viere said he couldn’t be more honored to have his business in the historic building.
“I’m so excited to get in right in the middle of everything happening,” he said. “I really feel like this whole thing has so much momentum and it’s only going to get better and better.”
The Carter Building, which will offer five retail locations, is scheduled to open Aug. 1. Two of the retail spots will be live-work sites, which will offer new business owners a place to stay while they operate their business.
All of the Carter Building’s five retail spots are currently available, but with the offers that have been coming in, Tatum doesn’t expect that to last much longer.
“We’ve talked to a couple of restaurants and a couple of other businesses, but we don’t have anything signed on the bottom line yet,” he said. “We’ve even had people interested in putting in a convenience store without the gas — you’d still have your snacks and drinks, and all your essentials.
“I think a lot of people are just waiting to be sure of the timeline, finalizing their plans, and then they’ll be here.”
The Hub City Lofts project has been underway for several years. After moving to Hattiesburg from New Orleans in 2005, Tatum felt the buildings — which have not housed tenants for about 20 years — would be perfect for a renovation project. Tatum and Jussely connected with Thrash Development of Hattiesburg, and after discussing the project with developer Walker Thrash, they knew he was the man for the job.
“Not many people could see what we wanted to do with this project,” Tatum said. “Walker was one of the few that could — he has a vision, and he knew right away where we were coming from.”
Even though both buildings have played host to many other businesses over the years, Jussely said the two buildings will bring a new style of shopping and living to downtown Hattiesburg.
“This is a different look and feel from anything else that’s in town,” he said. “I think a lot of people, especially younger generations, want to have a place where they can be serviced by walking downstairs and going to get a beer, or to shop for a pair of jeans.
“You don’t get that at the bigger garden-style apartments. Downtown living is a completely different culture.”
Le Viere agrees with that and then some. He said the addition of Hub City Lofts will enrich downtown’s culture and will give the area a New Orleans-style feel.
“This street — Front Street — will be the Magazine Street of Hattiesburg, and in fact it will have things that will rival New Orleans and Jackson,” he said. “Rob and Daniel see downtown not just as a physical place, but as a lifestyle that will bring more people and tourism here.”
More than anything, Jussely and Tatum are excited about the opportunity to invest in downtown and give back to the community.
“We love downtown — we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t,” Tatum said. “We want to make sure that we put the right business to service the right need, with the right group of people doing it. We’re here for the long haul, and we want our tenants to be here with us.”