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Natchez aldermen reaffirm plans for renovating old General Hospital
from Staff Reports - NEWS
January 12, 2018 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen voted down an attempt Friday to reject a group’s proposal to convert the old Natchez General Hospital into apartments.

The 3-2 vote means city officials will continue negotiating with Magnolia Medical Foundation as it develops plans on how to renovate the city-owned building on Oak Street.

The divided Natchez board had already decided in September to move forward with the Jackson-based foundation amid protests from neighboring propertyowners.

The proposed housing development is being spearheaded by Magnolia Medical Foundation head Erica Thompson. She presented the board and Mayor Darryl Grennell with ambitious plans last year to spend $3.4 million for restoring the dilapidated building into 30 apartments for retirees.

However, the foundation has yet to provide city officials the required information on how it’ll finance the development. This violates the terms of the agreement made last year with city officials and should disqualify it from acquiring the former hospital, said Alderman Dan Dillard.

He joined Alderman Sarah Carter Smith’s motion Friday not to transfer the building to Magnolia. However, they were outvoted by aldermen Billie Joe Frazier, Felicia Irving and Ben Davis. Irving said more time should be allowed for Magnolia to show how it’ll come up with the money to restore the 93-year-old building. Alderman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis was absent from Friday’s meeting but has previously concurred with Magnolia’s plans for the old hospital.

The building’s transfer is conditional on its restoration being adequately financed, its plans being approved by the Natchez preservation and planning commissions and it being put on the city’s property tax rolls.

Detractors of turning the old hospital into apartments have expressed concerns this will foster more crime, decrease the value of neighboring properties and be a drain on municipal services. They have sued the city over this.

The city acquired the building in 2013 after the previous owner defaulted on paying taxes. Built in 1925, it was Natchez’ main hospital until 1960. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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