MAEC Acquires Location Site

Officials say it will be the site of the future MAEC, but officials said a decision of whether to tear it down and rebuild or renovate the property has not been made.

The board said it intends to hire an architect with the next 60-90 days.

"We think it will have a great economic impact, because this is a state museum and certainly the state, Mississippi Development Authority, tourism, everybody will be advertising and supporting it," said Tommy Dulaney, president of the MAEC board of directors.

Manny and Melanie Mitchell of Meridian have also donated the adjacent property, the former Meridian Hotel.

"The possibilities are just limitless for children to take their yearly train ride, which we know all the kids do on Amtrak," said Melanie Mitchell. "By extending the covered walkway here, they can walk right to our museum and experience all the wonderful interactive, educational things that will be at the museum."

"This will spark all different kind of businesses because we are now the Arts and Entertainment District for the state," said Mayor Cheri Barry.

Officials said the MAEC has $4 million in seed money, but the project would cost an estimated $15 million to $18 million to complete.

Officials say the museum will be state of the art with interactive hologram technology, where patrons can actually sing with noted Mississippi artists.

With a projected date to open in 2013, board members say additional plans are in the works to possibly incorporate the Jimmie Rodgers Museum with the center, and perhaps still build an amphitheater at Bonita Lakes.

The history of the MAEC goes back to 2001 when the Mississippi Legislature approved its establishment. Four years later, Hurricane Katrina hit, stifling the economy and slowing progress on the facility.

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