Aeolian fence down after three years

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 16, 2002

Joey Lena with S.J. Tuminello & Associates cuts away the fencing surrounding the Aeolian apartments at Clay and Cherry streets Thursday. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[08/16/02]Workers began removing the fence Thursday that has surrounded the 78-year-old vacant Aeolian apartments since 1999.

Local architect Skippy Tuminello, who is designing plans for the Aeolian’s owner, said the fence, which went up to keep vagrants out and to protect passers-by from falling brick and stone, is coming down because most of the outside work is finished.

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“The only thing we need to do to finish up the outside is to put up the gutters and we don’t need the fence up for that,” Tuminello said.

Plans for the building at Clay and Cherry streets are to renovate the 74 apartments into housing for the elderly. Tuminello said he and owner Frank Imes will be meeting with a management company next month to hammer out plans and begin restoration sometime early next year.

So far, most of the work on the building has been limited to the outside where Tuminello said Imes spent nearly $400,000 replacing windows, doors and dilapidated brick.

“He’s committed to do something,” he said. “When you spend that kind of money.”

The building, vacant since 1991, was slated for demolition in 1999 before Imes bought it with pledges of restoration.

Since then, work has been sporadic. The removal of the fence marks the first big development there in three years.

Built in 1924 and advertised as the city’s first fire-proof apartments, the property is at one of the two main entrances into downtown Vicksburg. The area has been identified by the city for urban revitalization including sidewalk repair and landscaping.