Rosenthal loses appeal for tax aid to develop Carr Central

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 26, 2000

The owner of the old Carr Central school building has lost a bid to overturn the denial of a state tax credit.

The Mississippi Home Corp., a state agency responsible for encouraging development of affordable housing, upheld its refusal to provide Robert Rosenthal the tax incentive he sought.

The agency first rejected the Carr Central project on July 24 because the letter Rosenthal submitted from a potential financing partner did not represent a “firm commitment” under state guidelines, said Diane Bolen, director of the Mississippi Home Corp.

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The agency got 71 requests for assistance with housing projects last year, and approved 23 of those projects, Bolen said.

“We have a waiting list,” she said. “We don’t have enough credits for everyone.”

Bolen said Rosenthal could reapply for a tax credit for 2001 beginning in February.

Rosenthal has declined to discuss the project, yet in a public meeting said that all information published has been wrong. He has repeatedly said that his plans for an assisted living facility in the former school are on firm financial footing.

Rosenthal’s application did not meet the minimum guidelines for consideration, and thus got a score of zero out of a possible 100 from the agency’s board, said Quandra Swayze, director of Home Corp.’s tax incentive division.

“Whenever we make a rejection, applicants have a right to appeal,” Swayze said. “An internal committee denied his first appeal, and that decision was upheld by the final board last Friday.”

Swayze said the four basic guidelines for consideration are proper zoning, documentation of need, control or ownership of the site and permanent financing.

“If one of those four is missing, no further consideration is given,” she said.

The city, which became the owner after public schools abandoned the structure 20 years ago, sold Rosenthal the property for $55,000, under the condition that he meet deadlines for financing the project and beginning construction. The deadlines passed in September, and Rosenthal has asked for a one-year extension. City officials meet with him in closed session, as allowed by state law since a real estate transaction is involved.

South Ward Alderman Sam Habeeb said he advocates buying the property back, as stipulated in the contract, for $45,000, a profit of $10,000 for City Hall.

“I think we could do a better job marketing the property than the present owners,” Habeeb said.

But North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young said Rosenthal should be given the time he needs.

“There aren’t any other offers out there,” Young said. “The property has been vacant and without any interest for years, and to me it’s better than what we had at first, which was nothing.”

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.

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.