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Gaining momentum: Downtown Saltillo business activity picks up

Gaining momentum: Downtown Saltillo business activity picks up


SALTILLO – Late last year, Danny Brown finally got the opportunity to buy the three buildings he had been renting for 13 years, plus another building he had long wanted.


Those purchases enabled Brown to move his business, DB’s Floral Designs & More, double his space and expand his offerings to customers.


“It’s going really well,” he said of the move. “We purchased the building at the end of December and we’ve been working on renovating it and we’ve been able to move into it ... we’re looking forward to the next few weeks with Christmas and other stuff going on. We’ve got a lot of new things going on in 2017.”


Brown has seen his business flourish over the years, even though there have been times when he had only a handful of neighbors on this sometimes lonely stretch of Mobile Street in downtown Saltillo.


But in the past year, momentum has been building.


In December, the ownership of eight buildings in downtown Saltillo switched hands, as long-time absentee owner Bob Weinberg from Cleveland, Ohio, sold the four buildings on the north side of Mobile Street to Brown. Four other buildings across the street, including one set up as a restaurant, were donated to the city of Saltillo.


The building Brown moved into was built in 1910, and he had long eyed it.


“I always wanted it, but for years I didn’t ever think I’d move into it,” he said. “Everybody said, ‘you need to move into it,’ and I said ‘no.’ But the good lord worked things out and I was able to purchase it.”


The other three buildings Brown owned were then made available for lease. His wife, Karma, opened The Wash Tub, an antiques/handcrafted mall in the old DB’s spot.


Also, Tammy King is moving her Barnyard Boutique from the Town Creek area to downtown, and Kevin Doyle is relocating Fuel Cycles from Tupelo.

“Instead of renting, I was looking for a place to buy,” Doyle said in December. “I have heard good things about Saltillo and love the location.”


“I’m very excited about what’s going on,” Brown said. “In the 13 years, I’ve seen a lot of things come and go and I’ve seen a lot of buildings sit empty. But now that I’ve been able to buy my side of the street and the city has sold some of their stuff, we’re able to do a lot of new things. Hopefully, by the end of the year, everything will be full of something versus what we’ve seen in the past.”




Jason and Brandy Wilson can relate to Brown’s feelings about downtown Saltillo. They, too, see a wave of new interest in the heart of the city.


The Wilsons opened Iron Clad Tattoo Gallery in 2011 and moved last year from Mobile Street around the corner into a new space on Second Street. That move was precipitated by their purchase of the old Jones Hardware building. Part of it has been transformed into an event center, where parties, meetings and receptions can be held. An adjacent space will be the home of a coffee shop.


“We’ll have coffee and desserts, but it’s a much longer process than I expected it would be,” Brandy said. “I wish we had opened the cafe first and then the event hall, but it’s a work in progress. I’m in here every day working, so once we get the OK with the plans, we’ll be ready to build out. We’re still hoping to be open by the end of the year.”


The event hall has been home to a few weddings and receptions, along with other gatherings – exactly what the Wilsons had anticipated.


“The event hall is doing great; we love the way the public has responded because there definitely was a need for it,” Brandy said.


She, too, appreciates the resurgence in downtown Saltillo.


“It took a lot of convincing for people to see our vision, and a year and half later, it feels great to see other people seeing the potential, too,” she said. “You can feel the momentum. I’m excited. Every time a building is bought, I get that much more excited.”


Saltillo Main Street Director Lindsey Hines said the combination of Brown’s purchase of his four buildings and the gifting of the buildings to the city was the shot in the arm that was needed to revive the area.


“That was huge,” she said. “In the grand scheme of things, a coat of paint isn’t that big, but you have to start somewhere and that’s kind of what happened. I feel like we just needed the first few people to take that step, doing a little work on the outside, a little work on the inside, and then it becomes a domino effect.


“People are excited and see opportunity.”


The city also is building a parking lot behind the buildings it owns, in anticipation of the increased traffic that will be coming through to do business downtown.

MMSA to lead Vision Plan Program in Houston, Miss.


HOUSTON, Miss. -- The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) will lead a team to conduct a Mississippi Vision Plan for Houston, Miss. on Sept. 25-27, 2017.

This program, formerly known as a resource team or charrette, has been developed exclusively for Main Street Communities. A new Main Street Community receives a Vision Plan within its first year, and established Main Street programs, like Houston, may apply for the program.

The Vision Plan seeks to use a base of design and marketing professionals in Mississippi to help a new Main Street community develop a plan with both short-term and long-term goals.
"This plan will help us identify goals for Houston's future, and the steps to achieve those goals," said Jan Miller, MMSA Director of Field Services. "Houston has a lot of areas for potential growth and development."

"We hope to see a big turn-out from the community and surrounding area," she added. "An important part of the process is hearing from the public and what community members want to see accomplished in their hometown."

The Mississippi Vision Plan will combine creative, intense work sessions with public input sessions and meetings with community stakeholders over a three-day time period.

The public is invited to participate in a kick-off Community Input Meeting on Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center in Houston.

The public is also invited to attend the final Mississippi Vision Presentation on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m., also at the Civic Center.

The Mississippi Vision Plan team will identify tangible and intangible assets, present design recommendations, preservation projects and promotional opportunities to the community, and create excitement for citizens and both the private and public sectors.

The ultimate goal for the Vision Plan is to provide the community with an on-going, flexible work plan that city leaders and the Historic Hometown Houston Main Street program can use to guide the continued revitalization and development of the town and stimulate further economic growth.

MMSA's Jan Miller will be the team leader. Mississippi Vision Plan team members include:
Belinda Stewart, Belinda Stewart Architects, P.A.
Holly Hawkins, Belinda Stewart Architects, P.A.
Brittany Riland, Belinda Stewart Architects, P.A.
Saunders Ramsey, Neel-Schaffer
Karen Stanley, neonFROG, inc.
Rachael Carter, Mississippi State University Extension Center for Government and Community Development
Michelle Jones, Mississippi Department of Archives & History
Jeannie Zieren, Mississippi Main Street Association

The Mississippi Vision Plan team will produce diagrams, plans, design renderings, photo-manipulations, branding and marketing collaterals to illustrate their recommendations.
All of these products and recommendations are presented to the community on the final evening of the program.

"We are truly focused on helping the community with the next five years," said Miller.

A follow-up strategy board and work plans, along with all electronic files, is provided to the city as a tool kit to guide implementation on the recommendations.

For additional information, please contact Joyce East with the Chickasaw Development Foundation/Historic Hometown Houston Main Street at 662.456.2321 or  


Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) was created to provide economic development assistance through historic preservation to member towns, which focuses on issues embraced by the Main Street Four-Point Approach® - Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality– that are designed to match resources available in Main Street communities.

As a Main Street America Coordinating Program, MMSA is part of a powerful, grassroots network consisting of 45 Coordinating Programs and over 1600 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. MMSA partners with the Mississippi Development Authority and several private investors in the state.
For more information, visit ;

Old Hattiesburg High School one step closer to being converted into apartments

Old Hattiesburg High School one step closer to being converted into apartments

Haskel Burns, American Staff Writer Published 12:03 p.m. CT Aug. 18, 2017

From A to Z, the Hattiesburg American city/government beat has you covered throughout the Pine Belt. Haskel Burns/Hattiesburg American

For the past several months, officials have been patiently awaiting tax credits to help transform the former Hattiesburg High School on Main Street into an age-restricted apartment development.


Those credits were awarded last week from the Mississippi Home Corporation, knocking out the first step in the project and paving the way for a hopeful spring construction start on the $10 million project.


More: Apartments still planned for old Hattiesburg High


"We've made it through this process, which means it's actually going to happen," said Andrea Saffle, executive director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. "We had to get to this point to get the ball rolling, to get it started and moving.


"I've been so excited. This project is actually coming to fruition — it's not just a 'maybe' or a 'could be.' It's not going to be overnight, but something is starting to happen."


The upcoming facility, which is aimed at residents 62 years of age and older, is being undertaken by Jackson-based Intervest Corp. Tentatively called Preservation Crossing, the development is expected to offer 70 to 75 apartments that are 575 to 800 square feet per unit.


The majority of the units will be one-bedroom — although a handful of two-bedroom units may be available — and will feature a full kitchen, full bath and an on-site manager.


"I think this is important for that end of downtown," Saffle said. "It's going to help create the momentum for the community arts center in the (former) Hattiesburg American building, and I think all of those things can build off each other and help each other happen.


"I think it's huge for downtown — it's such great news, and it shows that it can happen."


The next step for officials will be to shore up approximately $100,000 in gap funding and start part two of the application process for state and federal historic tax credits from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. As part of that process, officials will fine-tune of the construction documents in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.


"We're real excited — just getting the credits is a major hurdle," Intervest owner Steve Nail said. "So now we're working towards all the things you have to do, all the way from getting the plans and specs ... all the way down to making the economics work."


To keep the apartments affordable, Nail expects to set rent for the units at approximately $600 per month. A similar project in Pascagoula, where he converted an old school into apartments for elderly residents, has so far been a success.


"We're still trying to get subsidies for the tenants that are going to live there," Nail said. "We're trying to find ways that we can provide services and things like that through some type of subsidy payment."



More: Barker looking at payment options for public arts center in Hattiesburg


Construction on the original multiple-story building, at 846 N. Main St., began in 1911. The facility was used as a school until 1959, after which it served as headquarters for Hattiesburg Public School District and was home to an antiques mall until 2001. The building, which has remained vacant since then, was heavily damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina and again in 2007 by arson.


The facility was named a Mississippi Landmark in 1986 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The historic aspect of the building will continue during renovation, as officials plan to keep the frame intact and build around it.


"(This project) is a great opportunity to invest in quality living spaces in the North Main Street area," Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said. "Hopefully it will breathe new life into challenged neighboring properties."

Eighth Bricks and Spokes set for downtown Vicksburg

Eighth Bricks and Spokes set for Sept. 30 here

By Brandon O'Connor

The Vicksburg Post

A unique chance to take a scenic bicycle ride through Vicksburg, across the Mississippi River and through the Vicksburg National Military Park is fast approaching.

The eighth annual Bricks and Spokes bicycle ride across the Old Mississippi River Bridge will take place Sept. 30.


Vicksburg Main Street is partnering with Bike Your Park this year to design the routes for the ride and some will include the chance to ride through the Vicksburg National Military Park after crossing back over the Old Mississippi River Bridge from Louisiana.


“Riding across the Old Mississippi Bridge and a lot of people come to ride our hills, believe it or not,” Main Street Vicksburg executive director Kim Hopkins said of what makes Bricks and Spoke special. “A lot people just have flat land, so they like to come and ride our hills. I think this year it will bring in a lot of people to ride across the bridge and be able to ride through the park.”


The ride begins in downtown Vicksburg at the Senior Center on South Street and will take riders along the red bricks roads of Washington Street and across the bridge into Louisiana.


Cyclists will have four options, and can take part in rides of 10, 30, 50 or 62 miles, although the final routes have not been determined.


“We will have where they can ride across the bridge and then we will have a short route through the park,” Hopkins said. “They can ride the whole park if they want. We will have some different routes. They don’t have to ride the whole park.”


The ride is open to cyclists of all ages and all types of bicycles. Registration is $35 through Sept. 4 and $40 from Sept. 4 through the day of the race. The registration fee includes a T-shirt, goodie bag and a water bottle.


Last year, the event attracted 185 cyclists to downtown Vicksburg.

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