First National residences could be rented this year

Published 11:52 am Friday, February 10, 2012

Tenants could rent space on the middle floors of the First National Bank Building downtown this year if financing falls into place, its business and property manager has said.

Multiple lenders are competing to finance the start of The Residences at The First National Bank, said Nicole Coulter Gilmer, of First National of Vicksburg LLC.

“We want to start construction in 2012,” Gilmer said. “We’re trying to firm up our financing. In this economy, it’s been hard.”

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The firm purchased the eight-story building at Washington and Clay streets in 2007 to convert space above the bank into about 60 high-end rental units, with a heavy promotional emphasis on views of the Yazoo Canal, Mississippi River and Louisiana Delta.

Trustmark Bank operates out of the lower floors of the building.

The size of the complex will depend on how financing is structured, Gilmer said. Work thus far has been limited to electrical and ventilation systems. Renovations include removing asbestos, Gilmer said.

Amenities on site were to include a fitness center, a private entrance, outdoor terraces and a bar and grill, according to early promo material.

Built in 1905, the building housed First National Bank and, later, Trustmark, which merged with First National, on its lower floors for about 80 years and was once the tallest building in Mississippi. Trustmark has said it will remain open on the first and second floors through the renovations of the rest of the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation is working with the group to secure federal and state tax credits for rehabilitating the historic structure, said Nancy Bell, executive director of the foundation.

“If you rehab a house or building listed in the register, there’s certain credits available,” Bell told the Vicksburg Lions Club Wednesday. “It’s a large project, and hopefully they’ll start soon.”

Credits tied to preservation also are being sought for the Monte Carlo building at 913 Washington St., Bell said. In December, the structure was purchased by local fitness guru Linda Fondren and her husband, James.