ALEMBIC NEWS

Mississippi Historic Preservation

Mike Grote leads an assessment of an historic property in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Alembic Community Development has been working with the Mississippi Heritage Trust to advise nonprofit and for-profit developers, architects, historic preservation professionals and community residents and leaders interested in restoring historic properties on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in the Mississippi Delta. We’ve helped the Mississippi Heritage Trust to design and facilitate a series of three-day workshops that offer participants a “Historic Preservation Development Toolkit” that provides training on real estate finance, basic feasibility analyses and development processes and timelines as part of an effort to demystifying development in general and historic restoration and adaptive reuse in particular. Over the past nine months, Alembic and the Mississippi Heritage Trust have trained over 250 workshop participants in communities from Clarksdale to Biloxi.

Alembic’s work in Mississippi dates back to the early months after Hurricane Katrina, when we helped lead a community engagement process in East Biloxi (see East Biloxi Community Plan), partnering with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, Hope Community Development Agency and Hands On USA to complete a study that allowed community residents and leaders to envision, articulate and implement their aspirations for the future of their neighborhoods. We also assisted Back Bay Mission, one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s oldest and most respected nonprofit service organizations, in its efforts to plan for and initiate work-force housing development in some of the coastal communities most devastated by the storm.

In early 2006, Mississippi enacted a state historic tax credit program to catalyze the redevelopment of historic properties both in areas devastated by the storm and in other communities whose historic buildings and main streets had suffered from disinvestment and neglect. Although designed to match the existing Federal historic tax credit program, Mississippi’s program, like all historic tax programs, is complicated and daunting. Through our development workshops, the Mississippi Heritage Trust and Alembic are helping efforts to leverage this important resource, spurring the restoration and rebirth of iconic structures across the state.