After years of trying, Meridian City Council is hoping to sell the old police station, which has been vacant since 2013.
At a working session last week, council members spoke to two prospective buyers of the property next to City Hall and developing it into something new.
Local architect Jerry Hobgood and Edmond Watters, owner of engineering firm Strada Professionals, LLC, are both interested in the property.
Watters, who said he had previously had structural engineers survey the property and made a proposal to former community development director Laura Carmichael, said he plans to refurbish the building into a multi-purpose development that will offer apartments, commercial offices and an events space.
Hobgood’s plan includes the renovation of the building into a function space and community education facility. However, he said it was too early to say definitively how the space would be used.
“It’s a little early to go into detail,” he said.
The city has been trying to sell the building since May 2013, when the police department moved to its current headquarters on 22nd Avenue. In March 2018, the city council voted to sell the building to John Purdy, owner of Threefoot Brewing Company, for $45,000. However, the deal later fell through.
In April 2020, the council approved the sale of the building to developer Greg Creel for $35,000. This deal also failed.
Last Wednesday, the council spoke to the developers about expectations and what needed to be done to restore the decaying building to a usable condition.
Ward 1 councilor George Thomas said his primary goal was to do something with the property.
“We want to do something with the building,” he said. “We don’t want it to just sit. This is me.”
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Thomas said the building is on the Historical Register, meaning developers must follow the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s guidelines for restoration plans. However, he said the council may consider removing the building if it becomes an issue with the sale of the property.
“If we can work out a deal in a reasonable amount of time, we will try,” he said.
City Attorney Will Simmons advised the council to create a list of expectations for the building to help interested parties know the requirements and make suggestions.
“I think the council has to make some decisions, and the city has to make some decisions about what exactly you want the building to do,” he said.
Because multiple parties are interested in the building, Simmons said the council could also choose to accept sealed bids for the property, rather than reviewing proposals and soliciting two appraisals, as has been the case in the past.
“You could always say, ‘Here are my parameters. We go with sealed offers and review them and decide what our best options are,'” he said. “You can always do that.”
The council also discussed a possible extension of the reverter clause associated with the property. In the working session, the developers explained that the current supply chain issues would make it difficult, if not impossible, to meet a two-year deadline.