HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Hattiesburg Art Council members are ready to put things into action for their future Community Art Center during the 2018 Fiscal Year.
While citizens of Hattiesburg all say downtown is taking shape, Mayor Toby Barker says he looks forward to seeing north Main street as an anchor for the city. “If you have the arts center right here at the Hattiesburg American Building and if you have senior housing at the Hattiesburg High, I think you really start to create an anchor here on north main street,"
HAC Executive Director, Rebekah Johnson, said the art council is ready to give back to the community. "Once we take that building we would like to give it as a gift to the city, for us to be able to promote all of the arts activities that we can and get different art disciplines into that building,”
Culinary arts, fiber arts and a recording studio are just a few of the many creative spaces that will be apart of the future community art center.
“The person that we have from Oregon that the city has asked to over see all of that said that there are several investors lined up and interested in this project," Johnson said.
The art council said they are ready to take the next step, but would like to see the city take action. “We’re going to look at possibly budgeting some money to start...planning for that in advance," said Mayor Barker standing outside of the empty Hattiesburg American building. "However, the financing for this project still depends on getting an investor who wants to use new market tax credits to make this project happen,”
Johnson says the new market tax credit proposal for this project will call for approximately $2.5 million dollars for phase one renovation.
"We won’t be to do anything until the building is secured, and the owner has requested a deadline on that, so we would need to be able to have the city to make a decision," said Johnson.
Both the city and art council said the development of this project will benefit not only local citizens, but others of surrounding counties.