Mayor Addresses Threefoot Project Obstacles

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

As Newscenter 11 reported Tuesday, HRI is backing out of an agreement with the city of Meridian to renovate the Threefoot Building into a downtown hotel.

One of the factors in HRI's decision to back out of the Threefoot project, according to the company, is apparently lack of support from Mayor Cheri Barry.

Barry recently said she doesn't believe now is the time for it, because of financial considerations and the economy.

"I will not be changing my mind, but I will look at other revenues to go down with this building," said Barry. "I love this building and it is very iconic for this city."

Barry said Wednesday the project needs much more than her support to be successful. She says there are many people in the community who don't want the project to move forward.

Barry said one of her major concerns is overriding costs. She said there has been no conversation about who would pay if the project went over budget.

"The debt service payments on a $14 million revenue bond, those payments could begin 12 months after the bonds are issued. Whether the hotel is open or not, we would have to start paying the bonds back," said Barry. "We don't have the money to secure that funding."

With that, the mayor said the building's foundation has never been checked and she says that could add to the cost increasing. And she said, if it's like the MSU Riley Center, extra money would be required to stabilize it.

Additionally, the mayor cited the King Edward Hotel building in Jackson, also an HRI project.

"It started back in '04 at $30 million. It capped out when it opened last week at $92 million," said Barry. "I'm so concerned that the same thing could happen with the Threefoot project."

As for the city's financial obligation to HRI, Barry said the contract calls for the city to pay HRI $1 million now that the project isn't moving ahead. She said that is in the contract approved by the previous administration.

Barry said she plans to hold a news conference at a yet to be determined time after Christmas to discuss the city's finances.

What best represents your view about HRI backing out of the Threefoot project?


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 4, 2010 at 07:12 PM
    Sam what lacks is your understanding to business moreover with this company nothing come out of its pockets in all places it has been its claim about over runs but each time the cities or others paid it at the end. they walk and others are left with the bag what they are held in is always is tax right offs.. as one said here before singing this companies praises being god like with a simple search this company has a history with court's all over the place. from civil right,breach of contracts to taxes..
  • by Bubba Location: On top of the 3 foot buliding on Dec 27, 2009 at 12:57 PM
    Good job Mayor Barry. Now cut cost in other areas of the city budget so no one has to loose their job.
  • by Sam Location: Meridian on Dec 26, 2009 at 09:22 PM
    First, let's get the facts straight about the cost. If there were any cost overruns, they came out of HRI's pocket, not the City's. HRI officials explained all this in the meeting the previous week. Barry's not dumb, nor misinformed. She knows that fact, but she chooses to ignore it. The mayor simply lacks the vision to understand the benefits of the project. All she sees is the cost, without seeing the profit potential.
  • by Steve Location: Meridian on Dec 25, 2009 at 06:51 PM
    It seems the previous administration jumped off with this and obligated the city without investigating or researching the possiblites, such as foundation (over the creek). If anyone wants to take it upon themselves let them have it..Please continue to benefit the masses, not a select few. Thank you
  • by Zach Location: Meridian on Dec 24, 2009 at 11:31 PM
    Dear leaders of our city, fix the bridge with the stimulus money that we have specifically for fixing the bridge. Carry on with the vision to restore our city's most impressive features, and above please do not take these crazy anonymous message board spammers seriously. Do what is best for the city's future and what you know is right. We need this amazing piece of architecture. Merry Christmas.
  • by RC Location: Meridian on Dec 24, 2009 at 02:16 PM
    The mayor made the correct decision. Now, we need to tear the building down. How much is it costing to keep that thing standing? It has been abandoned for years and will remain empty. And, the old mall that has sat empty for years and the old Sears building, there should be a new city ordinance passed that fines people who let their property fall into disrepair or make them tear it down. If something isn't done, before we know it, we can look like Detroit. No more tax dollars going to development until we fix what is already broken.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 24, 2009 at 11:02 AM
    One of the biggest problems with downtown is a lack of realistic direction. To create an entertainment and retail hub downtown, as leaders have been trying to do for years, is not working. Let's stick with what works. Meridian's downtown works well as a financial district and hub for professional businesses.
  • by Chet Location: Meridian on Dec 24, 2009 at 06:48 AM
    Congradulations to Mayor Barry. The HRI deal was a never ending money pit that was pushed through by the temper tantrum of former Mayor John Robber Smith. Yes, I did say Robber. Meridian needs the Threefoot Building but not done in this way. I am sure a workable soulution will be found when the city and her taxpayers can afford it.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 24, 2009 at 06:40 AM
    I think the mayor is right on target with her decision. However, what many of you are not looking at is the broad picture. The Riley Center needs a larger banquet space to accommodate groups larger than 250. How would you feel if you went to a conference and had to walk in one building for a meeting, out the door to eat down the block, but your hotel room was on another block and your car was 2 blocks away. Most people want to freshen up before or after a meal. Make more sense to have a banquet room attached to the hotel so that it is easier on a visitor. Not to mention that a Courtyard by Marriot isn't a real draw for a downtown hotel chain at the price $140 the rooms will have to rent for. I am also shocked at the negative comments made about Mr. Lala. Let's not forget that Meridian has been his home for 30 years, longer than he ever lived in India and his children graduated from the Meridian Public School system and have become successes themselves. Good job Cherri!
  • by Curtis Location: Meridian on Dec 24, 2009 at 06:26 AM
    Roll on Mayor if your not ______ someone off, Your not doing your job ! And just think when there talking about you,They are leaving someone else alone.
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