Almost a year after acquiring the former Hattiesburg High School property on Main Street, Jackson-based Intervest Corp. is getting its long-awaited start on transforming the old school into age-restricted apartments.
Officials with Intervest, who have been discussing the project since 2010 and bought the property in April, closed with the investor on the project last week, allowing for the beginning of renovation on the building.
“Our construction crew has been on the ground the past two weeks, doing mobilization,” Intervest Vice President Pam Davenport said. “So full construction will start this week, and we’ve got 14 months to do the rehab on (the building), and then we should start leasing up. So over the next year, you’ll see a lot of activity.”
The new apartments, which will be called Preservation Crossing, will be constructed by Harris Construction Services for residents 55 years of age or older. The development will offer 74 apartments that are 575 to 800 square feet per unit, including 56 one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom units with a full kitchen, full bath and an on-site manager.
Officials plan to keep rent at approximately $600 per unit to provide affordable living to residents.
“We’ve scheduled out 14 months, just because of it being a historic rehab,” Davenport said. “It might take less, or it might take a little longer, but that’s what we’re scheduling for.”
To help fund the $10 million project, officials received gap funding and federal historic tax credits from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Construction on the original multiple-story building at 846 North Main Street began in 1911. The facility was used as a school until 1959, after which it served as a 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.
In celebration of the project’s start, officials hope to have a groundbreaking at the site within two or three weeks.
“I’m beyond excited that this project is finally getting off the ground,” said Andrea Saffle, executive director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. “I think it’s going to play a huge role in kind of anchoring that end of downtown, and being able to have a new development project of this magnitude on that farthest east end of downtown – I’m just very excited about that.”