Aeolian back on the market

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

[3/31/04]A 77-year-old downtown apartment building with an uncertain future since the last tenants moved out in 1990 is once again in need of an owner.

The Aeolian, at the intersection of two of Vicksburg’s main thoroughfares Cherry and Clay streets has been put on the market by owner Frank Imes of Columbus-based Renovations of Mississippi Inc.

“Vicksburg is three hours away, and the building needs work, and I just don’t have the time to do it properly,” Imes said.

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He bought the building in 1999 with promises to restore the 60,000-square-foot structure. He saved the building from the wrecking ball.

The company replaced windows in the building and cleaned debris from the inside, but extensive renovation work is still needed.

Vicksburg Realtor Wayne Thornton, who is listing the building at $325,000, said the interior needs to be completely redone, including plumbing and electrical work.

The Aeolian was purchased in 1990 by the Sikeston, Mo.-based company, MJC Inc., from Resolution Trust Corporation, which obtained the building when Unifirst Federal Savings and Loan, owner in receivership, declared insolvency.

When MJC took over ownership, about 50 tenants lived in the 74-unit apartment building, but most moved out within a year.

City officials wrestled with MJC for years, until Imes bought the building and it escaped demolition.

“We were fortunate they came along before it was demolished,” said Nancy Bell, executive director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation. “And we’re very appreciative of Imes’ rehabilitating the windows and stabilizing the building.”

The demolition was opposed because The Aeolian is in the Uptown Vicksburg National Register Historic District.

H.H. Havis built the structure in 1927 with intentions to beautify the city. Boarding houses were common but freestanding apartment complexes were rare at that time. A major plus in advertisements was that the all-concrete building was “fireproof.”

“When it was built, it was an upscale apartment building,” Bell said. “It is well-constructed and well-designed.”

Mayor Laurence Leyens said he is happy to see the building again on the block.

“I take this as good news that the building is back on the market,” Leyens said

“I am encouraged that a deal can now happen that would make sense,” he said.

Leyens said he has toured the building with a developer from the West Coast.

He would not give the developer’s name.

However, Thornton said several people have looked at the property, but no offers have been made.