New Orleans Developer Buys Landmark In Home Town, Meridian

MERIDIAN, MS (AP) — A New Orleans developer has bought a downtown Meridian landmark — the old Hulett Furniture Co. building.

         Tim Hester says he was looking to invest in his home town, The Meridian Star’s Jeff Byrd reports.

         "I grew up in Meridian, played football at Meridian High, but as a developer I've worked in Tupelo for the past 25 years," Hester said. "I've done five buildings there, but now, everything that can be done in downtown Tupelo has been done."

         He said he bought both the old furniture store and the Corr-Williams building on Front Street last week.

         Hester said he plans to turn the Hulett's second floor into a banquet hall. "I want to be able to use that showcase stairwell," he said.

         The first floor will become an area for others to sell items such as antiques and furniture, he said. He plans to keep one floor as his personal apartment, he said, and may turn the remaining two floors into apartments for lease. .

         Hester said he plans to turn the other building into a climate-controlled storage facility.

         The sales show that downtown Meridian is a growing development magnet, said Karen Rooney, executive director of Meridian Main Street.

         Meridian Mayor Percy Bland said, "This is really good news for downtown," Bland said.

         Hester said he'll keep the Hulett name, calling the building "The Hulett."

         It's structurally sound and will be easy to bring up to code, he said.

         "In Tupelo, I had a lot of figuring out what I could do and could not do," he said. "Here, they've expressed a desire to work with me."

         He said he could create up to 18 rental apartments.

         "It would cost about $60,000 per apartment … If the demand is there, I'm willing to put $1.8 million into it," he said.

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