NATCHEZ – The Prentiss Club on Jefferson Street and the historic bank building in the same block on Franklin Street could one day become part of a five-star luxury hotel after the Mayor of Natchez and the council of aldermen protested their support for tax incentives on the project at a special meeting called Tuesday.
The Prentiss Club was donated to the Historic Natchez Foundation by its former owners Fred and Melinda Kent after being badly damaged by fire in 2018.
On Tuesday, the mayor of Natchez and the council of aldermen voted 5-0 on a resolution to consider a tax increase funding obligation worth up to $ 2.5 million to help the development of several properties in downtown Natchez. Alderman Billie Joe Frazier was absent at the meeting.
Properties include the Prentiss Club, the old Natchez Bank building next door to the Guest House restaurant on Franklin Street, Smoot’s Grocery & Blues Lounge and an adjacent building and the historic train depot on Broadway Street.
Film producers Tate Taylor and John Norris signed a lease with the town of Natchez in April with plans to renovate the depot and build a small amphitheater, indoor and outdoor restaurant, and public restrooms on the property.
Peyton Prospere of Watkins and Eager said a TIF bond would pay off growth in ad valorem and part of the sales taxes generated by the property developed to developers for public improvements, such as sidewalks, parking, streets. drainage and lighting. In return, the developers would make a private investment of $ 15 million in the properties.
Since the bond only uses unrealized income from real estate developments, the city would have no financial risk, he said.
âWe are currently seeing historic growth in our community and the opportunities here are incredible. This is one of those opportunities, âNatchez Mayor Dan Gibson said of the program.
Gibson said the city has already participated in a similar program for the construction of the Natchez Grand Hotel and the Holiday Inn.
The City of Natchez must first organize a public hearing before the TIF agreement can be approved. Although a date for the public hearing has not been set, Gibson said the meeting could take place in July to allow enough time to announce it to the public.
Additionally, the board passed a resolution showing its support for a tourism incentive program administered by the Mississippi Development Authority.
The program is reserved for resort-style projects intended to attract tourists to a destination, such as a hotel, Prospere said.
With this program, MDA would return 30% of the private investment of $ 15 million, or about $ 4.5 million, to the developer, from state sales taxes and tourism taxes. Taxes would be diverted until the $ 4.5 million is repaid or until 15 years have passed, Prospere said, adding that the developers believe they will get the $ 4.5 million back. over a short period.
In other areas, at Tuesday’s meeting of the Mayor of Natchez and the Council of Aldermen, the council approved the allocation of $ 4,000 for a study on commercial airlines for the Natchez County Airport. Adams. The board also postponed the date of its next regular meeting to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23, so that the meeting does not conflict with the annual Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce gala, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday 22 June. at the Natchez Convention Center.