Columbus leaders hope rebuilding historic downtown buildings into luxury apartments can help attract new residents and new business

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – After standing empty for years, the five buildings near the corner of 5th Street and 3rd Avenue in downtown Columbus are undergoing renovations to become luxury apartments with spots for new stores below.

“It looks ragged right now, but it’s going to be new and it’s going to be exciting,” says contractor Chris Chain.

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New Orleans-based de la Tour Holdings, a development and investment business specializing in restoring historic properties, purchased the buildings from Chain earlier in 2021 and began work on the Stone Hotel Project back in June.

“We’re going to put a new face on it that’s going to resemble exactly what it was back in the days when it was built,” says CEO Bill Legier.

Legier hired Columbus’s Renovations of Mississippi (which Chain runs) to turn the long-neglected properties into double and single apartment rooms that will all feature furnished kitchens, showers and baths as well as upscale lighting. 

“I’ve done this so many times,” Chain says. “I’ve done several buildings, over 200 buildings.”

Originally built in 1905, construction teams will spend the next 5 months restoring the buildings to the way they looked over 100 years ago.

But the 18 new apartments will have every modern convenience.

“We will be using all new electrical, all new mechanical, all new plumbing, all new features,” Chain says.

Chain has a long history of working with Legier and says that construction alone could create as many as 300 jobs.

“I think we’ll probably have a couple hundred people working on this project throughout,” he estimates. “With all your subcontractors and their crews, you got electrical crews, you got mechanical crews, you got plumbing crews.”

Legier says he sees the possibility for even more in the city.

“As we looked into Columbus, we found out that it’s an ideal community,” he says. “It offers a lot of stability and it offers a lot of potential for growth.”

New mayor Keith Gaskin toured the construction site Wednesday afternoon and hopes the Stone Hotel Project can be the first of many for the city.

“I was just pleased to be a small part of maybe helping encourage others to think about doing this type of work in Columbus,” he says. “I’m excited to do this type of work going forward.”

Legier expects crews to finish construction by December.

The apartments won’t be available for rent until January of 2022 but Chain says that he has already had several inquiries from potential renters.