City approves tax abatements for 2 downtown buildings|[02/26/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Two Washington Street properties with new owners were deemed eligible for tax abatements by Vicksburg officials Monday.

One, the Trustmark Bank main local office at 1301 Washington St., is now owned by First National Bank of Vicksburg LLC. The other is a structure just down the street at 1416 and 1418 Washington, owned by MR Development.

Both buildings were sold to the new owners in December.

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The tax breaks are geared to encourage redevelopment and commercial investment in historic districts and are allowed by city and county ordinances. Separate applications must be made.

According to data available for the 2007 tax year, $49,726.73 in property taxes was paid to the city and county on the bank building and $5,232.18 was paid on the shops. The abatements do not include taxes due for the support of public schools, which are the largest component in local property taxes.

Built in 1905, the eight-floor Trustmark building has been home to medical, law and insurance firms through the years and is slated for residential redevelopment except for the bank, which will continue leasing its current space from the new ownership group. Another major tenant is the law firm of Wheeless, Shappley, Bailess & Rector. Ken Rector, a partner in the firm, is also a principal in the new ownership group. It was not known if the firm will remain in its offices on the bank’s upper floors.

The shops in the 1400 block were purchased by MR Development, headed by local hotel and lounge owner Robert Ware, in separate transactions with Jay Jabour and Vicksburg Main Street board member Harry Sharp. In recent years, the property has housed bars and restaurants on its lower floor, including Niknar’s, Manda’s and Country Junction Bar-B-Q. Its upper floor functioned as a sports bar, Pig Willy’s, until it closed in October 2007.

Ware owns seven downtown properties, recently transforming the upstairs portion of the closed barbecue restaurant into a sports bar.