Tuesday, February 06, 2007

[JFP] Under Scrutiny, Supervisors 'Roadblock' Title Building

by Matt Saldaña
Feb. 6, 2007

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors killed a motion to hire an appraiser for the Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Building in a board meeting Monday, effectively halting its purchase—and endangering the controversial purchase of a parking garage next door. “We just put up a big road block to the Mississippi Title Building,” Supervisor Charles Barbour said.

The building comprises one part of a $30 million bond issuance brought to the board by Supervisor Doug Anderson last December. The bond issuance also includes a penal farm, road improvements and a proposed parking garage that would cost the county $14 million, a price Anderson received from exclusive negotiations with Central Parking Corp, as reported Jan. 24 by the Jackson Free Press.

Several county officials have begun to voice dissent toward purchasing the building and erecting a parking garage next door, a proposal that Anderson negotiated largely behind closed doors. During a meeting with Central Parking executives on Jan. 3, Anderson locked out Vice President Peggy Hobson Calhoun. Calhoun raised concerns over the source of the $14 million price tag for the parking garage at a board meeting on Jan. 2.

Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said that Anderson’s support for the bond issuance hinged on purchasing the Mississippi Title Building.

“(Anderson) had no interest in a new penal farm or jail expansion until the opportunity arose to purchase the Mississippi Title Building and the adjacent lot, and the proposed parking garage that would go on it. They are very much tied together,” McMillin told the Jackson Free Press last week.

Central Parking regional manager Bobby Stewart was one of the executives present when Anderson locked Calhoun out of the meeting on Jan. 3. In a memo, William McElroy, Anderson’s former son-in-law, asked Stewart to confirm that McElroy’s firm, M3A Architects, is Central Parking’s choice for work on the parking garage.

[View the entire article at the Jackson Free Press.]