United Way, church strike deal for former newspaper building

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2002

The Church of the Holy Trinity and United Way of West Central Mississippi have completed a deal to sell the United Way building to the nearby church.

The governing boards of the Episcopal church and the United Way began negotiations for the sale of the building at Cherry and South streets formerly occupied by the Vicksburg Evening Post to the church in late summer. The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi later approved the acquisition.

“I can confirm the deal was closed,” said Joe Graham, a member of the vestry of Holy Trinity.

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Bryan Brabston, a member of the building committee for the United Way, said Barbara Tolliver, president, and Abraham Green, chairman of the board, signed Tuesday for the United Way to close the sale.

Under the terms of the agreement, the United Way will continue to occupy its second-floor offices at least until 2020. Also, the tenants renting space on the first floor of the building will remain where they are for the time being.

“It was a win-win situation. Holy Trinity needed the space … and the United Way is not in the real estate business. That’s not our area of expertise,” Green said.

He said the United Way staff was having to spend considerable time overseeing the maintenance and management of the building since it was given to the United Way in 1997.

“It was also a hard knock to our budget,” Green said.

He said the primary mission of the United Way is to pass along as large a percentage of the donations it receives as possible to the 24 member agencies, and the choice was between adding more staff and overhead to operate the building or selling it.

Green said the United Way’s concern is to position itself to survive for the next three to five years in the nation’s changing economy.

He also said the United Way was thankful to the Cashman family, who gave the building to the charitable agency, for putting it in the position it’s in now.

The church intends to eventually move its parish hall functions into the first floor of the United Way building because the present parish hall, built in the 1930s, has serious structural problems.

“We can still use the parish hall … so there is no burden for us to move quickly,” Graham said.

He said the church’s next step will be to appoint a committee from all the church organizations with a vested interest in the parish hall to begin planning where each function will go and set a time schedule.

“We don’t want to put up a partition and have to tear it out six months later,” Graham said. “We want to do this in an orderly manner, and I can’t say how long it will take.”

He said the fate of the parish hall remains uncertain.

“That’s not even in the discussion stage (yet), but I speculate that it will be taken down when it is no longer usable,” he said.

The United Way building was occupied by the Post from 1952 until the newspaper moved to its new quarters on North Frontage Road in 1996.

The Church of the Holy Trinity, at South and Monroe streets, had its first service on Easter Sunday in 1880.