Developer bids for Crawford P.O.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 17, 2004

U.S. Postal Service employee Renee Maxey audits mailboxes as T.J. Robinson leaves the building on Crawford Street.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[3/17/04]A Jackson developer was the high bidder at auction to buy the former federal courthouse building and downtown post office in Vicksburg.

The $635,000 sale is subject to approval by the General Services Administration, the federal government’s property manager, which has 30 days to accept or reject the bid. Ben Duckworth, president of the buyers, Courthouse Partners LLC, said he expects to close on the deal in June if it is accepted by the GSA.

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“I really didn’t have much knowledge or specifics about the economic potential of downtown Vicksburg,” Duckworth said. “But I was surprised and impressed over the efforts of the last couple of years.”

He said the partners do not have specific plans for the property, but anticipate making them public by the closing date.

Lori Dennis with the GSA said part of the deal will keep the postal operations, which include box and limited window service, there for at least another year. The U.S. Postal Service leases that space from the GSA and will have to negotiate a new lease with Duckworth.

Built in 1935, the building housed some U.S. District Court operations, but those are being moved to Natchez. It has also been home to various government offices, from the National Weather Service to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that have since moved to other buildings.

The prominent structure on Crawford Street next door to City Hall is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s got a lot of unique features. It’s not just an old federal building,” Duckworth said.

Vicksburg had been offered the building for free, but turned down the deal in December because officials said the cost of maintenance would be too much for taxpayers. The city already owns about 30 structures.

The five-story building has 71,864 square feet of space that can be leased.

Dennis said two other individuals, one from Hollywood and one from Atlanta, also bid on the building at an auction last week.

Duckworth’s son, Ted Duckworth, the president and managing broker for Duckworth Realty, announced a project in August to renovate the Electric Building in Jackson for apartments and retail space. The $14.8 million project is expected to be finished in 2005.

The Duckworth Company Inc., is the owner and developer of LeFleur’s Gallery, a retail and office center in Jackson off Interstate 55.