Carr Central developer wants more time

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Carr Central developer Robert Rosenthal wrote city officials Monday to ask for another year to get money for renovating the old school building.

Rosenthal bought the building from the city in 1999 for $105,000, with plans to convert it into an assisted-living facility for the elderly.

But under his contract, Rosenthal was required to have financing and tax credits in place, and asbestos removal started, by Sept. 15. Otherwise, the city has the option to repurchase the school building for $45,000, handing Rosenthal a direct $55,000 loss.

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“The question is, should there be an extension, and if so, how much extension should there be?” said Vicksburg Mayor Robert Walker.

In his letter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Rosenthal asks that the Sept. 15 deadline for starting the project be changed to Sept. 15, 2001.

Walker said that when he got Rosenthal’s letter, he set out to arrange a meeting with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the city planning department and the legal department to discuss the matter.

“There may be a way that we can extend a ray of hope for him, and at the same time not limit ourselves from doing something else,” he said.

North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young said she understood that Rosenthal had been turned down for a tax credit by Mississippi Home Corp., the state agency that coordinates public financing for housing projects, but that ruling was under appeal and would be revisited this month by the Home Corp. board of directors.

South Ward Alderman Sam Habeeb said it showed bad faith on Rosenthal’s part that he did not update the city on his status until after deadlines had passed.

“What I think we ought to do is exercise our option, and then put the building out for proposals,” Habeeb said. “You should expect people to live up to their part of agreements.”

Rosenthal said this morning that he could make public in a week his plan to salvage the development plan.

The Carr building, named for early Vicksburg education leader Professor J.P. Carr, opened in 1924. It served all grades at various times, but is most often is remembered as the town’s main white high school. It was a junior high when abandoned by the city’s public school district more than 20 years ago. It was then discovered that the city, not the school district, held the deed to the building and land.

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

Getting excess property off the city’s inventory was declared a priority by Young as she began her second term three years ago. The former Vicksburg Police Department, built as a turn-of-the-century ballroom and club, was sold and has been redeveloped.