Thursday, April 21, 2011
Chamber, Main Street, Tourism seek ‘new life’ for old Powerhouse
By SUE WATSON
Rebecca Bourgeois and Stephanie McKinney visited the board of aldermen and mayor April 5 to propose work on restoring the old Powerhouse downtown on Falconer Street.
Bourgeois is executive director of both the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce and Main Street. McKinney is executive director of the Tourism Bureau. Holly Springs Main Street can seek funds because it is a non-profit organization, Bourgeois said.
The three organizations propose to use the restored building for offices for their organizations, for exhibit space, for meetings, for a farmers market and as a tourist welcome center.
“We believe the structure would bring new life to the city and to Main Street,” Bourgeois said.
The farmers market could be in the lower level and open onto Spring Hollow Park, she said.
Alderman Garrie Colhoun said the structure is on the National Historic Register and is also a Mississippi landmark. He said regulations would have to be strictly adhered to.
Alderman Johnnie Ree Bagley asked if Main Street would help garner the funds to restore the building.
Bourgeois cited her experience with working with the restoration of the Powerhouse in Oxford, for which she later was the business manager after it opened.
“There’s money out there and it comes from a lot of places,” she said.
Alderman Calvin James asked if there is sufficient parking.
“We have parking there and in the back,” said Don Hollingsworth, general manager of the utility department.
Mayor DeBerry said the city would probably want the area facing Spring Hollow to be open.
“We’d like to encourage people to park on the square, as well,” Bourgeois said. “This particular structure could be a beautiful place.”
McKinney said bathroom facilities are needed for tour buses. Now buses have to go to the Eddie Lee Smith Multi-Purpose facility as a comfort station, she said.
Main Street board president Andy McMillon said tour buses need a rest stop and the central area could be used as a meeting room for public use, as well as for the three organizations.
Mayor DeBerry asked if the organizations are looking for a long-term lease with the city.
“What could you guys bear in terms of general maintenance?” he asked.
Bourgeois said the boards would have to look at budgets, utilities and income. The Powerhouse in Oxford makes $3,000 on a single night, she said.
DeBerry asked if the organizations would prefer to pay a minimal fee for their housing and the city take on the task of finding funding.
“We did not know if that was an option,” said Bourgeois. “The plan – to prepare a long-term lease and get in the grant cycle – is a long process, done in phases. I understand the city in some instances is going to be the grantee. We can take that under our wing and help the city.”
McKinney said the Tourism Bureau would be using the facility as a tourist welcome center and the meeting space could be used for other things such as political rallies.
The use of the space would be flexible, Bourgeois said.
McKinney added that the city could then draw traveling exhibits to the area.
Bourgeois added that the restoration of the Powerhouse was part of the Main Street planning charrettes.
“Parking in the Falconer Street area is extremely cut off,” McKinney said. “The charrette plan would open it up (by extending North Market adding more parking on the west side of the area) .”
The two said architectural renderings of a floor plan have been provided pro bono.
The mayor suggested the directors leave their proposal with the board and come back again to discuss the plan.
In other business at the end of that discussion, the board voted to reappoint Fergenia Hood to the Holly Springs School District Board.
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