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The Capitol Art Lofts will have 31 apartments priced so that artists and other creative people can afford them.

Work on Jackson’s Capitol Art Lofts delayed

View_02-Capitol Art Lofts_feature_rgbBy JACK WEATHERLY 

HRI Properties announced in April that it had secured financing for a $10.4 million renovation of a historic block across from the King Edward hotel on Capitol Street in Jackson.

Construction of the Capitol Art Lofts, according to the New Orleans-based developer, was to start this fall.

But Joshua Collen, vice president for development for HRI, said Monday that a $1.6 million grant from the state historic tax credit fund had not been secured.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has said the historic tax credit is depleted.

The department has said it will ask legislators when they convene in January to replenish the fund with a $60 million allocation.

Collen now says he hopes work on the project can commence in February, with completion a year later.

The Capitol Arts Lofts calls for 31 apartments geared to be affordable for creative persons, ranging from artists to those working in the healing arts of medicine.

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn sounded an encouraging note as he told the Mississippi Business Journal last month:

“I hope we can continue to develop this program,” Gunn said. “It’s such a good deal. So many of our towns depend on it for economic development. We get such a good return on our investment.”

Todd Sanders, tax incentives coordinator for the Department of Archives and History, said this week the application by HRI for a $1.6 million credit had been received.

HRI has teamed with developer David Watkins to revitalize the King Edward Hotel and Standard Life building downtown.

“The Capitol Art Lofts are a continuation of that,” Collen said in April, adding that Watkins is not involved in the current project.

Nate Wells, Gunn’s chief of staff, said Wednesday that the speaker will reintroduce legislation calling for $100 million in the fund, with a 15-year repealer. “The speaker’s not just in support of the it, he’s in the lead,” Wells said.

As for the HRI Properties and other projects, Wells said that “there was a lot of confusion over how much much was left in the fund” as it approached its $60 million cap. The Legislature did not replenish it when it stalled in the Senate, so a number of other endeavors were left short when it was reached, Wells said.

Collen said Monday that HRI plans to submit its request for a building permit from the city in mid-December.

The city has already shown that is supportive of the project by providing $1 million, according to Collen.

Eric Jefferson, director of the city Department of Planning and Development, said in a release in April that the project “meets the city’s goals and objectives of providing affordable housing in downtown Jackson” and complements “other revitalization efforts underway on Capitol Street.”

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