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.

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