Threefoot Building Study Update

Officials in Meridian are talking about the results of a seismic study on one of this city's oldest buildings.

The study on the Threefoot Building was commissioned early last year.

According to Mayor Cheri Barry the overall results are mixed, leaving the future of the city's only skyscraper in limbo.

Paid for with grant money from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the seismic study reveals that the Threefoot foundation is sound. The concern now is the portion of the building that's above ground.

Barry says weather conditions are the building's worst enemy right now. Broken windows and water seeping between the building's bricks and main structure are just two trouble spots.

"My concern is the facade, the mold, the asbestos, the weathering by the elements and the building as a whole," said Barry.

Barry says prior to her taking office, it cost the previous administration more than $100,000 just to put blue covers over a portion of the outside of the building to preserve it. Given this fact, and the fact that the building has more than 15 floors, she estimates that it will cost well over $1 million just to board up the building.

To slow deterioration, each month the city pays for insurance and utilities for the building. Right now Mayor Barry says the city is looking for a private investor to restore it and get it back on the tax roll.

"We would love for a private investor or entrepreneur to come in and either purchase or for the city to give the building to them," Barry said. "If we could turn that building into a shopping mall or a school, or a hospital or a McDonald's home. There are so many wonderful things that could happen to that old building, but the time clock is ticking in my opinion."

The Threefoot Building opened in 1929. It was designated an historic building in 1979. The Threefoot was closed 2000 due to deterioration and upper floor vacancies. In 2010, it was named one of America's most endangered historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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  • by Matt Location: Briarwood on Jul 26, 2012 at 09:22 PM
    I say tear it down, before it falls down and crushes someone in a vehicle riding down 22nd Ave. Imagine the lawsuits! Meridian should let go of the past and embrace the future! Sometimes to keep the boat from sinking you've got to throw the dead weight overboard!
  • by Nooott Suuurrrprised Location: The Boonies on Jul 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM
    Real estate restoration is the same as buying Terot Card readings from Mrs. Cleo. Giving up and letting historic sites rot is good for the local economy. Education is meaningless. My comments are asinine. I'm a miserable person. I really don't live in Meridian, I just like to talk bad about it. There is nothing positive to say about anything in Meridian. Giving up is how cities are built. No wonder nothing get's done in Meridian. Wow!
    • reply
      by Ima Crook on Jul 26, 2012 at 07:53 AM in reply to Nooott Suuurrrprised
      Restoring old buildings that nobody will use is good because me and my cronies will make a lot of money off the backs of the taxpayers. Who needs decent streets to drive on when you have a 30 million dollar city palace. Paying police and firefighters wages barely above fast food places are good because that gives the city more money to spend on more important things like trolleys and consulting fees on how to improve downtown.
      • reply
        by Gerald on Jul 26, 2012 at 02:20 PM in reply to Ima Crook
        I can agree with that. Nobody wants politicians to get kickbacks from projects. The point is that you don't have to be negative about trying to find private investors, grant money, and tax credits. All of these would not involve stripping the firefighters of their wages. Nobody has mentioned trying to fund the project with public funds. The idea is to restore it like they did with the Standard Life building in Jackson. Does that make sense? Offices, apartments, condos, a hotel, retirement home, it could be many of these ideas all at the same time. It's a large building. I did notice that the mayor didn't mention the hotel idea this time. I assume that will not be one of the ideas on the table. In the end though, it's not our decision. It's the mayor's decision. She shot it down once for a campaign backer, who knows what will happen next.
  • by Dreek Location: MTOWN on Jul 25, 2012 at 01:36 PM
    I hope they don't tear it down.
  • by Calling Mrs. Ward on Jul 25, 2012 at 12:27 PM
    Ok. How many skyscrapers are in Meridian? 1. How many are funtional? 0. You know why? It didn't work. Hasn't worked in years. Sela Ward could get some of her movie friends out here, make a movie, or at least a scene or two- and blow that thing up.
  • by southerngentlemen on Jul 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM
    Larry, the examples youre using have nothing in common with Meridian. This isnt Tulsa and it sure isnt Pensacola. We dont have beaches or anything else that tourists flock to. Its possible that we could have a 'Mississippi Burning' style tourist industry but do you honestly think our leaders would allow that? Its definitely not New Orleans which some people comment sometimes and say we could be like. Our leaders would never allow that. They run 'new orleans' style businesses away (fortune tellers). We have nothing to bring people here, only things to make them leave. Thats why the original city population has declined by around 20,000 people, over the past few decades. Even with the land grabs (multiple annexations) the city numbers are still down close to 10,000 people. Its just a dying area and spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars to rebuild the falling down buildings wont change that. Living in the past is the reason our city is in the shape its in now. Its why our kids move away when they grow up. All we have is a bunch of old fogey politicians and civilians from the 'old money' side of town who work against progress and make sure that our area stays 1960s style. Its nothing new. Weve been offered major things, over the past few decades and the city officials have always turned them down. Remember the coliseum a local businessman offered to build, with his own money? Mayor Smith turned it down and we ended up with a taxpayer built cow barn. Please dont compare us to tourist towns or even towns with progressive leaders.
    • reply
      by Not Surprised on Jul 25, 2012 at 01:09 PM in reply to southerngentlemen
      But this time when we trade the cow for the magic beans it will be different!!!!!!
    • reply
      by Larry on Jul 27, 2012 at 07:44 AM in reply to southerngentlemen
      The examples given were in no way meant to compare the gentrification of Tulsa and Pensacola to that of Meridian. Each and every city/town is unique and comparisions between them have to look at specific factors that may have common ground (geography, demographics, etc.). The examples given were of specific buidings in which restoration has taken place. The intent was simply to show examples of types of buildings and situations that could be used in a case study. Factors such as design/layout, funding sources, useage, and other related specifics that could be used as an holistic approach in planning for the revitalization of the Threefoot Bldg. As for gentrification of Meridian, the Mainstreet organization and MSU are key contributors to its success. On another note, it takes "progressive" leadership to want to save and restore the Threefoot Bldg verses letting it be torn down. This doesn't mean "living in the past," however, simply embracing the future using resources from the past. Rest assured, Meridian is not a dying town unless the citizens want it to be and make it that way. Nonetheless, investors looking to invest in Meridian will have the same philosophy as Dollar General in that they do not want to be a part of a community that does not want them there. That applies to city officials and citizens alike.
  • by Pipe Location: Dream on Jul 24, 2012 at 10:56 PM
    Yeah, let's just tear everything down. It's more realistic to just give up. If Meridian just gives up and tears down everything we will be better off in the future. While we are at it, let's tear down everything that's over 100 years old. Let's level off this place so nobody can recognize it. Why can't the naysayers understand that effort and planning might save the building with private money? Why can't the naysayers understand that if you don't live in Meridian, you don't pay city property taxes. If you don't like Meridian, move away. Meridian would be better off without the naysayers. There are plenty of people besides those who live and work downtown supporting an effort to save this building. I support an effort to save this building, not an effort to remodel it with tax dollars. Whatever we do, let's don't "blow it up" that's what the "Realist" would do. He's probably just Lala.
    • reply
      by Not Surprised on Jul 25, 2012 at 06:54 AM in reply to Pipe
      That's what most young people do when they graduate college, they leave this dump for towns that pay better wages and actually focus on more than a four block area.
  • by southerngentlemen on Jul 24, 2012 at 09:19 PM
    Larry, you dont really understand how areas develop. You say that youre paid to go from town to town telling people how to revitalize their towns. I wont get into that even though it sounds a little made up. Ive seen most of what our country has to offer, during my lifetime and the one consistent thing is that towns 'move' every couple decades. Not literally but the 'good' areas of town change. Like the area where Merrehope is. That was a wonderful neighborhood at one time. And the old mall area here and the theater across the creek from it. Those used to be vital areas too. Now theyre not. And its the same in any decent sized town across this country. You see Larry, its natural for that to happen and once a particular area becomes run down and slum like, it rarely changes back to its former glory. Its foolish to expect it to. You couldnt even shop downtown if the stores were there, Larry. Theres no ground level parking lots like in every other city across America. There used to be a nice coffee shop across from the post office downtown but myself and most of my friends quit going there because you couldnt sit down and enjoy yourself without having a parking ticket on your windshield when you came out. And Ive never seen a parking garage work in a town of 40,000 or so people. Have you? They could have made a dozen ground level parking lots for what that costs. Downtown is dead Larry, it would take hundreds of Millions to revitalize all of the rundown buildings there and its just not worth it. Its like throwing money down a sinkhole.
    • reply
      by Larry on Jul 25, 2012 at 09:23 AM in reply to southerngentlemen
      I'll skip the debate of my interest only to say that I well understand how areas develop, especially within the context of Burgess, Hoyt, multi nuclei, etc. models of development. Instead, I will home in on some of the points you have made. And also, emphasis "thinking outside the box." First, you are correct in your assertion that towns/cities change and go through cycles. However, downtown areas are typically the "core" areas that are vital to the community as a whole and represent a community's nature. Meridian is no different. Meridian should look at such models as The Mayo Motor Inn and The Public Service of Oklahoma Buildings in Tulsa as well as the The Grand in Pensacola in order to get some ideas of combined ways to approach the Threefoot Bldg. As far as parking, I would haste to suggest that The Pensacola Grand may be a perfect example of what needs to happen with the whole block surronding the Threefoot Bldg. Of course, this is only a couple of resources of information to base a model and form a "plan" from. As for as funds, there may very well be a combination of government, NON-PROFIT, and private investment funds, if cordinated together, to make the project work. A project that will show case Meridian and incorporate interest from all across the community. If done in the right way, the MS Arts and Entertainment Center, Jewish Heritage organizations,and even the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation might be pusuaded to becme involved from the non-profit sector. Of course state resources and government funding in the form of matching grants and actual physical involvment may be possible. That still leaves room for private investment for real estate or hotel interest as well as other business interest (bank?). Besides, wouldn't a revitalized and show cased Threefoot Bldg surrounded by nothing but ground level parking, landscaped and well lighted instead of a lot of falling down buildings, be a little outside the box for Meridian?
  • by Rick Location: Meridian on Jul 24, 2012 at 08:28 PM
    I personally know that many of you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to honest efforts to save this building. HRI presented a great plan, but politics got in the way. Lala did exactly what has been said, he just wanted the restoration project out of his way so he could build another soon to be in 25 years flea bag motel. Nobody is talking about using tax payer money to completely remodel this building. We are simply suggesting that the mayor step up to the plate and find investors, grant money, tax credits, and cooperate with those who want to save this building. Money is practically free from banks now if you have good credit, and investors exist in this country. Not surprised, you are exactly the same person who would have said tear down the Royal theater...out with the naysayers! If this mayor lets this building get ripped down there will likely be an uprising. The time clock is ticking, as the mayor said, and everyone with any say so is just sitting around doing nothing but playing the blame game. If it gets torn down in the end we will definitely know who didn't even try. Out with the naysayers, in with productive ideas and cooperative planning.
  • by Realist Location: TaxTown, MS on Jul 24, 2012 at 08:09 PM
    Tear it down, blow it up, just be done with it! It is an eyesore, a money drain, and a tragedy waiting to happen. It will never be restored, and those who "own" downtown just can't seem to realize that we normal poor people are tired of paying for their Disney downtown pipe dreams. That sucking sound you hear? It's the 3Feet and other dumps taking our tax dollars. And THAT'S THE TRUTH!
    • reply
      by DR. DU DROP on Jul 24, 2012 at 11:07 PM in reply to Realist
      • reply
        by You, sir, have no PHD on Jul 25, 2012 at 07:38 AM in reply to DR. DU DROP
        ___ did you just say??
  • by For Profit Location: Meridian on Jul 24, 2012 at 07:31 PM
    Is there anyone that really believes that the 3 Foot building could be renovated and expect it to ever turn a profit? In such a small city as Meridian that won't happen and unless you, and everyone else, are willing to pay much, much more in taxes then the building needs to come down.
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