Permits submitted for Carnation Building rehabilitation

Jan. 24—TUPELO — Work on the revitalization of the historic Carnation Building continues despite the city's rejection of an offer to enter into a loan agreement to kickstart the project.

Madison-based investor Steve Nail, the owner of Intervest and the Carnation Milk plant, said he turned in permit requests to begin work on the building's renovation. Nail hopes to develop a 33-unit affordable senior living apartment within the building for residents over 62 years old who earn approximately 60% of the area's median income.

"We are continuing to push forward," he said. "It is a worthwhile project. I believe it will be well received. It turns into really good community investments. It will really stimulate some growth."

As of Monday, Nail said he did not have a concrete timeline for construction to begin but hoped to start renovation as soon as possible.

City Planner Jenny Savley said she and the Historic Preservation Commission hoped to look over the submitted plans soon. The developers will need approval from both the Development Services Department and the commission before they can move forward on the project. Savley said she expected the review process to go smoothly, noting that the state approved the plans before the developers submitted the permit request.

Development Services Director Tanner Newman, who praised the project, noted that though there had been some snags in the process because of current landscaping codes conflicting with historic preservation standards, the city and developers were able to work out the issue.

"We are enthusiastic about what we have received," he said of the plans. "This is a great use for the particular building, and we're grateful that Mr. Nail chose to invest in Tupelo and specifically Mill Village."

The project is primarily funded through federal and state tax credits, including affordable housing and historic preservation tax credits. For the project to fall within those credits, developers must follow a litany of guidelines, including strict renting levels for affordable housing and the preservation of the building's facade for historic preservation credits.

The renovation of the Carnation Building will be the developer's third senior living complex in the state, including one in Pascagoula and another in Hattiesburg.

Nail previously addressed the Tupelo City Council looking for a $500,000 loan with 1% interest. At that time, he estimated the expense of the project at about $16 million, but noted he and along with the project's engineer were able to reduce the cost slightly. He did not specify the new estimate. He hoped the money from the loan would have come from a restricted fund.

When Nail first proposed the loan, there were some legal questions regarding the use of the restricted funds. Attorney Ben Logan said Wednesday that the city did not dig further into the question because the administration and council decided against the proposal without a vote.

"We will have to figure out how to utilize that money and if we can use it," Logan said.

Nail said he and his partners were looking at other means to raise money to help with the project.

"We are disappointed about the money they have that they are holding, but we will find another way," he said.