The City of Hattiesburg has saved several hundred thousand dollars by refinancing the former Courtesy Ford building on West Pine Street, which is allocated for a maintenance site for Hattiesburg Police Department vehicles – as well as other police and fire agencies in the area if needed – and a homeless resource center.
At last week's meeting of the Hattiesburg City Council, council members voted to approve the sale and award of a taxable, negotiable note of in the principal amount of $494,000 to Trustmark National Bank, who made the highest and best bid over several other bidders. In effect, the measure will lower the interest on the building from approximately 3.5 percent to 1.5 percent.
Other bidders included BancorpSouth, Community Bank, Regions and the Bank of Yazoo.
"So we're saving some money," Mayor Toby Barker said.
Principal and interest will be due and payable annually, commencing on June 1, 2021 and each year thereafter until paid.
Those payments are due in June of each year, and the amounts include $93,000 in 2021, $96,000 in 2022, $99,000 in 2023, $101,000 in 2024 and $105,000 in 2025.
The aforementioned quote will expire at midnight on June 19, 2020, unless funded prior to then by the city, or extended by mutual agreement between Trustmark and the city.
Hattiesburg officials purchased the building in May 2019 at a cost of $612,000.
The decision was made after officials began searching for a maintenance site at the upcoming Hattiesburg Public Safety Complex and received a $2 million bid for that project – a number higher than officials were comfortable paying.
"That ($2 million) would have taken the overall (safety complex) project to $30 million, which is something we didn't want to do," Barker said after the purchase. "So we found the Courtesy Ford building for sale for $600,000 – when you add in the bays and equipment to keep the bays there, that's an extra $12,000, so it's a $612,000 purchase price.
"We had an owner who was willing to finance it, and build in the five-year debt service into the capital budget of the police department. So what you'll have is a maintenance facility right there on Pine Street that already has 12 bays, so it can kind of become our public safety maintenance facility all the way around, as well as any other neighboring agency that needed to use it."
In addition to those bays, the building also features 9,000 square feet of heated and cooled space that can be used for storage, as well as other city departments or public service agencies that might need to locate there.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 2019 at the Hattiesburg Public Safety Complex, which will be built at the site of the former HPD station on James Street.
That building was demolished, with the exception of the former Methodist hospital on the site, to make room for new homes for the police station and municipal court.
In the meantime, HPD staff are in a temporary location on Klondyke Street, while municipal court has temporarily set up shop in the former federal court building at 200 West Pine Street.
The $26.5 million facility, which is being constructed by Hanco Corporation of Hattiesburg, is expected to be completed in the coming months.