New life in downtown Meridian
DOWNTOWN WORK Bryan Van Devender of Van Construction Co. bends a piece of metal while working inside what will be the new BankPlus building on 22nd Avenue across the street from Weidmann's restaurant. Both buildings are being renovated and are at the heart of downtown revitalization in Meridian. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
April 11, 2002
Strolling the streets of downtown Meridian late one night a few weeks ago, Jamie Williams noticed something different: It was filled with people.
That was a stark contrast compared to what downtown was like years ago, he said.
Williams' printing business is one of many new shops along Front and other downtown streets that are helping to bring new life to what had become a stagnant business district.
On Friday, Williams will hold a formal ribbon-cutting celebration in front of his business nearly a year after he opened on Front Street.
But that's not all.
Downtown Meridian is bustling with new development including the new Montana's restaurant, renovations to the historic Weidmann's restaurant and restoration of the Grand Opera House.
Besides that, downtown will soon be home to the $30 million Riley Education and Performing Arts Center and the Rosenbaum condominiums.
Contractors from O.L. Snowden &Sons Construction Co. said Wednesday that work should be complete on most of the new condominiums by the end of the month.
When finished, the Rosenbaum building will have two floors of 11 condos. Plans call for filling the bottom floor with retail shops and possibly restaurants.
Another project in the works is the relocation of BankPlus from its Eighth Street and 23rd Avenue location to the old Southeastern Printing building on 22nd Avenue across from Weidmann's.
BankPlus is moving to make room for a planned $7 million downtown parking garage the city is building in conjunction with the Riley Arts Center and the Grand Opera House.
Bank president Allan Stewart said plans call for completing the new building by October. Stewart said that bank employees should be in the new building by the end of October.
Van Construction Company Inc. of Meridian is the general contractor of the project and Jackson architect Robert Parker Adams is in charge of the design.
Stewart, chairman of the downtown development committee of East Mississippi Business Development Corp., said he's excited to be a part of the rebirth of downtown.
Here is a look at a few of the projects that are spearheading the revitalization of downtown Meridian.
BankPlus: The bank is scheduled to open its new office on 22nd Avenue by October.
Weidmann's restaurant: The historic business is being renovated and is scheduled to re-open sometime this summer.
Rosenbaum building: The downtown Rosenbaum condominiums are almost complete and residents could move in as early as the end of the week.
Montana's Bar-B-Q &Seafood Restaurant: The restaurant catered its first event in Meridian this week and is set to open within a month on Front Street.
Parking garage: Work on a planned $7 million downtown parking garage is expected to start by the end of the year.
Riley Education and Performing Arts Center: Architects have begun discussing plans for the planned $30 million Riley Education and Performing Arts Center which includes refurbishing the 100-year-old Grand Opera House.
Frank Imes: The Columbus developer has bought more than 10 buildings on Front Street in the last two years and has started several retail shops, an apartment complex and a fitness center on the north side of the street.