Though the pace has been slow and the financing complex, Brantley Snipes is convinced that an $8 million renovation of a historic corner of downtown Greenwood is going to come together.
“It is still very much on go,” Snipes said of the Howard’s End Development, which would turn four vacant buildings at the intersection of Main Street and Carrollton Avenue into almost 37,000 square feet of commercial and residential space.
Snipes, the executive director for Greenwood’s downtown development organization, Main Street Greenwood, spoke to the Greenwood Rotary Club earlier this week about the Howard’s End Development. She has been working for more than a year and a half on the project with its developers, Blake and Leah Ferretti of Cleveland.
The plan calls for revitalizing four buildings constructed during the early part of the 20th century — the Antoon Dry Goods Co. building, the Meechum building, the Delta Feed building and the J.W. Quinn Drug Co. building, which later became the home of Steele Furniture — into apartments, offices, retail shops and restaurants.
The proposed development was the cover story of the Spring issue of Elevation, a magazine published by the Mississippi Heritage Trust, a Jackson-based nonprofit that promotes the preservation of the state’s architectural treasures.
The project hinges on a complicated web of state and federal tax credits, which would ultimately finance almost 85 percent of its cost. Snipes said the project has already qualified for half of the historic preservation tax credits it is seeking and all of the “new market” tax credits, the latter of which are designed to stimulate investments in underdeveloped rural areas of the nation.
Once the project is completed, the developers would receive some
$6.8 million back of their construction costs from the sale of tax credits to investors, who use the credits to reduce their state or federal income tax liabilities.
Snipes said there is a tremendous amount of paperwork and regulations involved. “It is a very complicated process,” she said. “The attorney that I spoke with said that ‘you will be to the point of tears. It’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done.’”
Snipes estimated that the project has already lined up enough tenants to occupy 30 to 40 percent of the space.
One challenge, she said, is overcoming the perception that the area on the south end of downtown is unsafe. She pointed out that the city’s police headquarters are only a couple of blocks to the north of the site of the proposed development.
“It’s the most patrolled block in all of Greenwood. ... It’s very lit up down there. So we’re really hoping to change perceptions and change things with this when we complete the central core downtown.”
Richard Macy, a retired investment adviser, was impressed by Snipes’ presentation.
“If Main Street’s able to pull this off, this will be probably equal or even perhaps better than Viking taking care of the old Irving Hotel,” he said, in reference to the Greenwood manufacturer’s multimillion-dollar transformation of a Howard Street white elephant into The Alluvian hotel in the early 2000s.
Snipes said she won’t breathe easy until “we have a hammer on the site” but the possibility is exhilarating.
If the project comes to fruition, “we would have done something that no Main Street program has done,” she said.
•Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.