HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The following is a press release from the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association.
The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association (HHDA) announced the sale of the old Hattiesburg High School building to Jackson developer, Steve Nail on Feb. 6. Nail is the owner of INTERVEST Corp.
"Mr. Nail held rights to the property through legal option for more than four years," said Andrea Saffle, executive director of HHDA. "Now, the sale is complete and we are excited at the prospect of getting this project underway."
Nail's current plan for the project includes converting the historic building into an age-restricted apartment development. The new facility, which is aimed at residents 62 years of age and older, is expected to offer 70 to 75 apartments of 575 to 800 square feet per unit. The majority of the units will be one-bedroom — although a small handful of two-bedroom units may be available — and will feature a full kitchen, full bath and an on-site manager. Nail, who has developed a similar project at a former school in Pascagoula, said one of his biggest goals with the upcoming apartments is to make them affordable for potential residents.
According to Nail, there are many steps to go through for the project to begin. He plans to first make his application to Mississippi Home Corporation, an agency that administers a tax credit program that is a key element to funding projects like this. Additionally, he will apply for both Federal and State Historic Tax credits to help with additional funding. " In finalizing the sale of the property," said Saffle, " we wanted to insure that, if for some reason the project doesn't get funded this year, we [HHDA] have a buy-back clause in this agreement. The board felt that is was important to be able to continue to have oversight of the property if this project doesn't go through."
The old Hattiesburg High School building was named a Mississippi Landmark in 1986, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, and is now listed as one of the 10 most endangered landmarks in Mississippi by the Mississippi Heritage Trust. Nail said the historic aspect of the building will continue, as he plans to keep the frame intact and build around it. “Mississippi Department of Archives and History require that we make that building look like it did when it was first built," he said. "So, the outside will pretty much be what you see now, but enhanced.”
The mission of HHDA is to preserve the historic character of downtown and the Old Hattiesburg High School is a significant part of Downtown Hattiesburg’s history and architecture.
"The Board worked for many years to negotiate a project for this building that would serve to revitalize this section of downtown. We are working closely with Steve to make sure that happens –with respect to guidelines identified by the Department of Archives and History,” said Saffle. Construction on the original multiple-story building located at 846 N. Main St. began in 1911. The facility was used a school until 1959, after which it served as headquarters for the Hattiesburg Public School District and was home to an antiques mall until 2001. The building was heavily damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina and again in 2007 by arson.
The Mississippi Heritage Trust lists the Old Hattiesburg High School as one of the 10 most endangered Mississippi landmarks.