By JACK WEATHERLY
Cold westerly winds of change barreled down Capitol Street in downtown Jackson Monday morning as a long-awaited project turned its last corner toward becoming a reality.
The Capitol Art Lofts had been stalled several years in the planning stage due to funding problems.
But New Orleans-based HRI Properties Inc. announced Sept. 14 that the last part of funding for the $10.4 million project had been secured.
The apartments are expected to open in the summer, HRI Properties Senior Vice President Joshua Collen said Monday.
Soon there will be a link on the HRI website for those interested in applying for the apartments, Collen said. Applications will be accepted later, he said.
There was plenty of history and praise to go around on Monday.
Jackson Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said what has been a “saga” has led to a “major development” for downtown Jackson.
She said she strongly opposed a mayor in a previous administration who vowed to to take a bulldozer to the long-vacant King Edward, which underwent a $90 million transformation and reopened in December 2009 and stands gleaming across the street.
She said her grandfather recalled when it was built in 1923.
Mayor Tony Yarber, said his great-grandfather, like other blacks, “had to skip over” Capitol Street because of segregation, but that now it is “a place for all people.”
Gov. Phil Bryant noted that other parts of downtown are gaining accolades for being reclaimed, including Helm Place, which opened last summer and has attracted national attention, Bryant said.
The development offers 1,500-square-foot, single-family homes.
On Monday, a ceremonial bricklaying was held to mark the transformation of the seven buildings dating from 1885 to 1929, which started recently with demolition of their interiors.
The 31 loft-style apartments are priced to attract artists and others in a broadly defined creative category, including the medical field.
Twenty-six are set aside for those whose income is no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income. They will cost $565 a month for a one-bedroom unit and $675 for a two-bedroom.
The other five will be for those whose income is no more than 30 percent of the area median income. Four of them will be one-bedroom units and will cost about $250. The two-bedroom unit will cost $295.
The project was announced in 2013 but was delayed because of the unavailability of Mississippi Historic Tax Credits.
But the Legislature last year raised the cap on the credits by $60 million, providing HRI with $2 million it was short of having enough for the project, Collen said in an interview last year.
Another obstacle subsequently arose when the city of Jackson did not offer a $1 million low-interest loan because of its budget problems.
However, the Mississippi Home Corporation increased its Low Income Housing Tax Credit, originally $6.66 million, by an additional $741,000 “to allow the project to proceed,” Collen said.
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