Developer says Carr Central financing in place

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 1, 2000

In the shadow of a giant oak tree, the abandoned Carr Central building stands in deterioration on Cherry Street. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

Vicksburg developer Robert Rosenthal said Thursday that renovations to the Carr Central building on Cherry Street will meet the deadlines this month set forth in their city contract.

Rosenthal plans to turn the historic former school building into a retirement home. He purchased it this summer for $55,000 on the condition that he meet certain target dates for the project, which he has said will be finished in December 2001.

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“We’re ready to start phase one, removing the asbestos, any day now,” Rosenthal said. “We’re going to meet all those dates.”

In the first set of deadlines, Rosenthal’s company, Vicksburg Senior Housing LLP, was expected to obtain financing by today. By Sept. 15, the company was to begin asbestos removal, a project estimated to cost about $300,000.

Rosenthal said part of the financing has come from a New York Bank called Allied Irish Bank. He said he is still in the process of applying for federal tax credits and other incentives for the project.

The bank official whom Rosenthal said could confirm the finance package was out of the office today and unable to return a phone call, a bank spokesman said.

According to the contract under which Rosenthal purchased the building, a failure to meet the city’s timeline would trigger a clause allowing the city to buy back the property for $45,000, a profit of $10,000 for City Hall.

“I feel good about it,” said North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young. “I’d like for people who went to school there in the 1930s to be able to go to that building and see that it’s still productive today.”

South Ward Alderman Sam Habeeb said he still has questions about whether Vicksburg Senior Housing has the financial ability to carry through with the project.

“If there’s no credible evidence that anything is happening over there, my feeling is that we should go ahead and repurchase it,” Habeeb said.

The building has deteriorated further since Rosenthal purchased it, he said.

Mayor Robert Walker said he was pleased to hear that the project was moving forward.

“It has been an eyesore for a long time,” Walker said. “It needed someone to make the investment to bring it back to life.”

The Carr building, named for early Vicksburg education leader and professor J.P. Carr, opened in the 1930s. It served as a junior high, high school and middle school before being abandoned by the city’s public school district. It was then discovered that the city, not the school district, held the deed to the building and land.

A gang-related arson fire destroyed a gym wing of the building 10 years ago. Six years ago it was slated for demolition, but got a reprieve when declared a protected state historical property.