MCJ Wants to Buy Old "White" Library in Downtown | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

MCJ Wants to Buy Old "White" Library in Downtown

[verbatim release] Mississippi Center for Justice Ready to Invest in Downtown Jackson - The Mississippi Center for Justice recently presented to city officials a proposal to purchase the old library building on State Street, site of the historic "read-in" by nine Tougaloo College students during the Civil Rights Movement.

The group is offering to pay more than the appraised market value and will not seek exemption from property taxes. Board Chair Fred L. Banks, Jr., explained, "Our purpose is to participate in the revitalization of downtown Jackson by making the Old Library Building a contributing resource. If the city accepts our offer, we will restore this historic building to provide prime office space for organizations whose mission is to provide access to justice for all Mississippians. We cannot think of a more suitable use for this important monument of the Civil Rights Movement."

After the Eudora Welty Library opened across the street, in what was once a Sears store, the former library became a city office building. In the last decade the building has been abandoned and has fallen into complete disrepair.

"And yet," MCJ President Martha Bergmark said, "this building is the most significant physical memory of the Civil Rights Movement in downtown Jackson. Its architectural prominence and its location in the heart of the state capital make it a bricks-and-mortar symbol of our commitment to fulfill the promise of justice for all in Mississippi. There is great excitement about the prospect of restoring this building, using it for such an important public purpose, and linking its historic value to the emerging renaissance of downtown Jackson."

The Mississippi Center for Justice, a non-profit, public interest law firm, opened its doors in 2003 to provide legal advocacy to advance racial and economic justice statewide. With successes in areas as diverse as voting rights, juvenile justice reform and access to health care, MCJ now has a branch office in Biloxi to address the need for affordable housing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Previous Comments

ID
113130
Comment

The group is offering to pay more than the appraised market value and will not seek exemption from property taxes. Board Chair Fred L. Banks, Jr., explained, “Our purpose is to participate in the revitalization of downtown Jackson by making the Old Library Building a contributing resource. If the city accepts our offer, we will restore this historic building to provide prime office space for organizations whose mission is to provide access to justice for all Mississippians. They may not seek exemption from taxes right now; but, they will as the value goes up. Also, what about the tenants? If they are non-profits, they won't be paying much in the way of taxes either. Now, why is the JFP ignoring that Ted Duckworth was offered this building and had plans for it long before this group came along. In fact, Councilman Allen says that Melton has a hand in this recent move. He talked about it on his show a few weeks ago. If Ted Duckworth is able to turn it into mixed use condos, then you will have viable businesses at the bottom paying taxes and several "property owners" paying taxes. I think they are using the Civil Rights byline to garner sympathy for their effort. Not discounting the past; but, I find it odd that the building sits vacant for so long - Ted Duckworth comes up with a plan, and now all of a sudden two groups want it.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-05-24T15:10:50-06:00
ID
113131
Comment

I was about to say something really nice and touching until I read Pike's post. Todd, can you look into the Ted Duckworth thing? I'm curious.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-24T15:22:35-06:00
ID
113132
Comment

Uh, the JFP ain't ignorin' nothin'. Here is our story on Duckworth and the library when no one would discuss which non-profit wanted in on the deal.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-24T15:28:07-06:00
ID
113133
Comment

Thanks Brian and the JFP! I forgot about that article. Good one!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-05-24T15:47:16-06:00
ID
113134
Comment

Okay, thank you, Brian. BAM! :-P

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-24T15:54:36-06:00
ID
113135
Comment

Oh, the original reason I came in here was to mention that I went to Tougaloo with Sam Bradford's son. Bradford was one of the Tougaloo Nine.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-05-24T16:06:04-06:00
ID
113136
Comment

I am wondering if Duckworth would be willing to put a small monument or exhibit area in the lobby to the Tougaloo Nine?

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-05-24T16:27:04-06:00
ID
113137
Comment

For those interested, there is a small exhibit in the Tougaloo library related to the Nine and the circumstances around it. Go take a look!

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2007-05-24T16:31:06-06:00
ID
113138
Comment

There is also a bronze plaque in the Tougaloo library that could easily be duplicated for location there.

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2007-05-24T16:32:04-06:00
ID
113139
Comment

In fact, since we are getting the Civil Right Museum, it would be good to do an exhibit from the read-in. Table, chairs and room setting could be set up at the museum as an exhibit.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-05-24T16:39:05-06:00
ID
113140
Comment

Thank you for posting the "old" article about this project. Pike.....YES Ted is devoting a portion of his development to the Tougaloo Nine. This has gone on a LONG time, and I think it would be just plain wrong to reverse our committments to Ted at this point [in spite of political pressure]. I have asked MCJ to assist us in procuring the "State Civil Rights Museum" and "piggyback" with them on the venture. Locate both in an appropriate place and let's all win.

Author
Ben Allen
Date
2007-05-24T17:24:22-06:00
ID
113141
Comment

Thanks! That's good to know. I'm with you on this one. And, again, sorry guys. I forgot about y'all's other article. You usually supplement articles when new stuff comes up, so that's why I thought you had missed it.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-05-24T17:42:08-06:00
ID
113142
Comment

so fill me in. This is across the street from the Eudora, right? Not the parking lots, next to the old burwell's deli sort of building?

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-05-24T21:45:49-06:00
ID
113143
Comment

i'm all for ensuring that (a majority of) the city's history & culture is preserved. but the city needs to have fewer nonprofit owners of property. state, county, city, church, and other nonprofit buildings & lands have financially strangled the city's budget into what it is today. go Ted, go!!

Author
cityofjacksonms
Date
2007-05-24T22:13:08-06:00
ID
113144
Comment

I am of course with Ben on this one.....Disrepair means that it will need a of of work.....That's what "disrepair" means .....and if your going to have to put that much money into something in order to make it usable then your funds are best spent on a new mulit-use complex. What Duckworth has in mind would be quite thorough and cover all kinds of conditions that a office installation would not necessarily need. In other words you get alot better renovation with a residential oriented rehab than with an office rehab....... Now that nicest Law center for Justice I have seen is the one in Montgomery, The Southern Pverty Law Center for justice.....with atha tmagnificent fountain by the then Keorn student....the one witheh Inscription fountain....."When Justice flows like water and rightousness like a Mighty Stream.....MLK......

Author
ATLExile
Date
2007-05-25T08:59:35-06:00
ID
113145
Comment

Is it Frank Melton, JRA, or a combination of both thats the problem here? This in addition to Frank's other antics should be a reason enough for us concerned citizens to campaign to have him removed. Can this city take two more years of his incompetence? The question is can he be removed? Can the council have any say or will we have to wait till he is proven guilty of illegally shifting money to finance his friends? For some strange reason I love this city and see only potential! mg

Author
Concerned in Jacktown
Date
2007-05-25T10:44:47-06:00
ID
113146
Comment

What's up with the King Edward....are they bustin forward? or is the project in that quiet phase that rehabs get into.....before the big work begins.....

Author
ATLExile
Date
2007-05-25T12:23:01-06:00
ID
113147
Comment

The King Edward is now in the design phase. The Forum Studio of St. Louis is responsible for the work. They will be studying the building in order to prepare working drawings for the renovation. It is my understanding that this work is to be completed by October. Actual construction should start then. What's confusing me is the Forum Studio site which mentions the King Edward project. Nothing is mentioned about the hotel component. I had thought that hotel rooms were definitely on the table for this project. I haven't talked with David Watkins lately, but I'm sure he has his plate full with this project and the Standard Life building proposal. I wouldn't worry, though. The King Edward is on the road to renewal.

Author
tombarnes
Date
2007-05-25T12:30:11-06:00
ID
113148
Comment

Yes, There are probably a number of hotel companies that would be interested in being a part of the King Edward. But whatever Hotel company name is involved it will mean Franchise Fees and Franchise License standards. Standards for operations and aesthetics. It gets complicated so I can see why they would not be promoting that on the site. Then there's naming rights...Say would Hilton allow the name King Edward to remain?...I mean "if it is Hilton".....would Wyndam allow it.....it gets complicated. Interesting times around there for sure.....

Author
ATLExile
Date
2007-05-25T13:39:00-06:00
ID
113149
Comment

I could be mistaken, but I thought they were NOT going to put hotel rooms in the King Edward. I thought it was supposed to be condos. Also, I understand that Duckworth has committed to various installations in the lobby that would commemorate the Tougaloo Nine.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-05-25T15:28:59-06:00
ID
113150
Comment

The information on Mr. Watkins' website still indicates that a hotel may be part of the project. Of course, this could change. The residential units will most likely be apartments instead of condos. This is due to the GO Zone legislation.

Author
tombarnes
Date
2007-05-25T17:05:06-06:00
ID
113151
Comment

Everything I've read about the KE and current plans include several floors of hotel space. The top floors will be residential.

Author
millhouse
Date
2007-05-25T17:56:50-06:00

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