ABERDEEN – While discussion during June 18’s board of aldermen meeting centered on the need for improvements on the former Phoenix Drugstore building downtown, the chairman of the nonprofit that owns it echoed the same sentiment last week. The drawback, he said, is lack of funding.
For 10 years, Save Aberdeen Landmarks has owned the building and addressed certain issues, but there are still lingering structural needs.
“There’s nothing that would please me more than to start work tomorrow and get it saved, but the reality is it needs to get in the hands of the city,” said SAL Chairman and Founder Dwight Stevens.
He said the nonprofit doesn’t have access to grants the city could apply for to address the building.
“All the grants we try, they’ve said we should give it to the city to seek grants,” he said. “We’d love to see this building fixed but have to pay down the Kimmel building first.”
Years ago, SAL acquired a building downtown and renovated it into loft apartments upstairs and two businesses downstairs, which generate revenue.
For the project, $260,000 was borrowed, and Stevens said the remaining balanced owed is currently less than $100,000.
During the late June aldermen meeting, a family member of the Phoenix building’s next door business owners, Henry and Dianne Hammack, pleaded with the board to do something to address the building due to problems it posed on their clothing store, Henry’s, and the former Central Insurance building on the other side.
Stevens reiterated something stated in that meeting that he offered to give Dianne the deed to the building.
He added the city’s ownership of the former M&O Depot helped provide grant funding through the years for its continued improvements.
As far as the city’s involvement, discussion June 18 ended with the need for Stevens to meet with the board to discuss options. As of last week, a meeting between him and the board hadn’t been scheduled. City officials were at the Mississippi Municipal League conference in Biloxi last week.