The Meridian City Council voted Tuesday night to donate the Kress Building on 5th Street to Mississippi State University. MSU now owns the Kress and Newberry buildings on the same block as the Riley Center. And it has big plans.
There have been a lot of ideas thrown out for the Kress Building over the last couple of years. As late as last year, plans were to turn it into a banquet space to complement a proposed Threefoot Building Hotel. Now that the Threefoot Project is dead, there is another plan for the Kress.
Mississippi State plans to take a $2 million grant from The Riley Foundation and renovate the first floor of the building, turning it into a bookstore and coffee shop for MSU-Meridian business school, which will move to the adjacent Newberry Building in 2011.
"This will allow us to have a greater reach into our business community, both in the financial districts and banking, and also allow our students to be able to have within walking distance internships with our business partners," said Dr. Jack Tucci, dean of MSU Meridian.
Those partners include numerous banks and other businesses within blocks of the building. City officials say they couldn't be more excited about the plan, which they say will have a major impact on that block, and the entire downtown area.
"We're so excited to be a part of this, and the growth of our community," said Mayor Cheri Barry. "This is an economic development tool for our community."
When the business school is complete, it will bring several hundred students a day into the downtown area. Officials say they hope that will be just what the downtown needs to take the next step in its development process.
The Kress Building was built in 1905. It operated as an H.S. Kress and Co. Store for many years. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.