Downtown Development

Perched on the corner of 7th Street and 23rd Avenue, in just a matter of months the old Bell South Building in downtown Meridian is set to undergo a major transformation.

"We have been talking with Chartre Companies for 6 or 8 months," says Mayor Cheri Barry.

Chartre Companies Ltd. out of Oxford is doing the project. The owner of the company, Clarence Chapman, is a Meridian native. Work on converting the building into an apartment complex is expected to start in March.

"This is economic development at its very best," says Barry. "To think, that in addition to getting a 26-unit apartment complex, we're getting a piece of property that's been off the tax rolls for 20 to 25 years back on the tax roll again."

According to the mayor, residents at the complex will be able to utilize free parking at the downtown garage. This week city officials approved the company's request to reserve 35 parking spots for residents.

As part of this project, there are plans to build balconies for at least some of the apartments. Also, on one side of the building there's a park that's now maintained by the city. Once the apartments are finished, the developer will then maintain it.

Targeting young professionals, Mayor Barry says the apartments will be priced market rate and range from one to three bedrooms. The estimated cost for the project is $4.5 million. Just this week the Meridian City Council approved a resolution of intent to grant a tax exemption - excluding school taxes - for 10 years for improvements or renovations to the property.

'This is the first of maybe five projects that Mr. Chapman is going to bring to Meridian,' says Barry.

Once work starts, the project is expected to take at least 5 months to complete. During the construction phase, the renovation effort is expected to create about 40 jobs. Once finished the complex will be called Cumberland Terrance, in honor of the company that was first housed in the building. The old Bell South building was built in the early 1900s.