Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen approves tax breaks for Cedar Grove

Published 12:49 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen have approved two conditional seven-year tax abatements totaling $451,000 for renovations and restoration work at Cedar Grove Mansion and Cedar Grove Mansion Chapel.

The tax abatement provides a tax break on the increase in the value of the buildings once the improvements are completed.

That means if a building has a present value of $1,000 and the improvements increase its value to $5,000, the additional $4,000 will not be taxed for seven years. The city will get the property tax revenue on the present $1,000 value during the abatement period.

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The tax abatement must also be approved by the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

“We have a lot of just fixing up to be done,” said Harley Caldwell, who with Dr. Steven and Kendra Reed bought Cedar Grove in March. “We’re not going to add on at this point; we’re going to refurbish what is there. We only expect to spend several hundred thousand dollars. We’re pretty lucky in what has to be done.

“Cedar Grove was in disrepair. The main house is the only part that is on the National Register (of Historic Places) but we’re doing work to all of it,” she said. “There was some leaking in the basement that caused some serious problems in the basement and there was some leaking in the carriage house that caused some problems. The previous owner replaced the roof, but he didn’t replace the damage caused by the leaking roof.”

Also, she said, the previous owner “took the kitchen out.” Part of the kitchen workspace, Caldwell said, was in the basement but the staircase in the basement was removed and then walled in upstairs.

“He didn’t rebuild the kitchen, so we have to rebuild the kitchen, rebuild the dining room,” she said.

Caldwell said plans were to have some of the rooms online already, but problems with building materials and manpower have slowed progress.

“It’s moving slower than we would like but there are three rooms in the old Sunday school rooms of the chapel called the Riverview Suites and we’re about to bring those online,” she said. “Within the month we’ll have those online; they’ll be available and we’ll open those with no breakfast.”

Kendra Reed, who with her husband owns the Belle of the Bends and the Cedar Grove cottages, said plans are to hold a soft opening in August.

“We’ve already repaired the leak in the porte-cochere; we have replaced the front porch; we have renovated the rooms on the back of the house,” Reed said. “We’ve started work on the bridal suite. We’ve been making progress. We’ve already got the pool scraped, tiled and we should be finishing that up soon.”

The women said they want to reopen the restaurant but have been unable to find a restaurateur or a chef.

“We’re waiting for the right chef,” Caldwell said.

She said work on the chapel won’t start until the bed and breakfast “is up and running.”

“We don’t have a clear purpose for the chapel at this point. It’s a very large space and we don’t know what it will become. It will have to have renovations.”

Possible uses for the chapel, Reed said, include a restaurant, event center or it may be sold.

“It’s all very exciting,” Caldwell said. “We feel like it is the crown jewel of Vicksburg and we can’t rush it, we have to take it in its own time; we have to have a quality product online.”

“It’s going to be an ongoing process,” Reed said. “A lot of refreshing needs to happen; We may have to take it piece by piece, but we’ll get there.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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