By JACK WEATHERLY
Two years after HRI Properties announced that it would convert historical, vacant buildings into 31 loft apartments in the 200 block of West Capitol Street in Jackson, it said on Tuesday it will move forward with the project now that it has the funding.
The delay was caused by the unavailability of tax credits, said Joshua Collen, vice president for development of the New Orleans-based company.
Eight buildings opposite the King Edward will be transformed into apartments at a cost of $10.4 million. They will be geared to be affordable for creative persons, ranging from artists to those working in the healing arts of medicine.
Construction will start in the fall, with completion expected about a year later, Collen said.
Amenities will include parking, community areas, gallery and studio spaces, a business center and a fitness center. There will be 27 parking spaces behind the apartments in a secured lot at no extra cost, plus space for bicycle storage.
Prices for 26 apartments are set for whose income is no more than 60 percent of the area median income, Collen said.
Those will cost $565 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and $675 for a two-bedroom unit, he said. The average one-bedroom apartment is roughly 800 square feet and the average two-bedroom unit is about 1,000 square feet.
Five units are set aside for those whose income is no more than 30 percent of the area’s median income, which means they will cost about $250 for a one-bedroom, of which there will be four, and $295 for one two-bedroom unit.
HRI teamed with Jackson developer David Watkins to revitalize the King Edward Hotel in 2009 and the Standard Life Building in 2010.
Collen called all three phases “one big monster project. We’re very proud of what King Edward and Standard Life did in the way of transformation in downtown Jackson. The Capitol Art Lofts are a continuation of that same mission.”
“They provide much-needed affordable housing, they eliminate blight . . . they preserve very important historic fabric and they are economic development, particularly tied to the state’s push to do economic development related to the cultural economy, the creative economy is what the Mississippi Arts Commission utilizes.”
HRI has carried out similar projects in New Orleans and elsewhere.
Eric Jefferson, director of the city Department of Planning and Development, said in a news release that the project “meets the city’s goals and objectives of providing affordable housing in downtown Jackson” and creating “jobs and [complementing] other revitalization efforts underway on Capitol Street.”
As the name suggests, the units are aimed at those who are artists, but in very broad terms — ranging from the traditional arts, to film, to the culinary and writers — as well as those in the medical field, Collen said.
Capitol Art Lofts LLC — with HRI Properties as managing member and Capitol One Bank as the other member and with 99.9 percent of the equity — was awarded the tax credits.
The credits are monetized, meaning they will or have been sold as securities. Of the $10.4 million, about $5.6 million will be derived from low-income credits, $1.6 million from federal historic tax credits and $1.6 million from state historic tax credits.
Collen said that the Mississippi Home Corporation exhausted its tax credits for 2013 and 2014 but when it was funded again for 2015, HRI applied and got the credits.
Additionally, the city of Jackson contributed $1 million and HRI the balance of $600,000, according to Collen.
Asked if HRI has any other plans for Jackson, Collen said in an email:
“We like to invest in neighborhoods and not just buildings. We would certainly be interested in finding ways we can continue to make downtown Jackson a stronger live, work, play neighborhood. We, however, do not have anything else on the drawing board at this time.”