Category Archives: Real Estate

Plans for Downtown Hotel Renovation Await Only Regulatory Approval

Plans for Downtown Hotel Renovation Await Only Regulatory Approval

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Former New Stone Hotel – Dispatch file photo

Plans for a complete renovation of the old New Stone Hotel and The Arcade Hotel building have been completed and submitted to the City for review and approval. The current owners, developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain, purchased the century-old property in 2016 from Susan Mackay and her brother, Wayne Price. They plan to restore the now dilapidated building to its former glory as a mixed-use development.  Chain said. “Once we get the building permit, we can move forward and start working on the rebuild.”

Columbus Building Official Ken Wiegel said the documents presented will be reviewed thoroughly before a building permit is granted.  Now that the plans have been submitted, the city building department and fire department will review them, which generally takes up to 10 business days,  unless concerns are raised during the review. Once this process is complete, a permit can soon be issued.

Chris Chain, left, and Tommy Howard

The two buildings were first constructed in 1905, and they have since hosted hotels, an auto parts store, a children’s clothing store, a print shop, and the first Party and Paper location. The structures had been in Mackay’s family until 2016.

Chain owns Renovations of Mississippi Inc., and Howard has restored downtown buildings, including 208 Fifth St. S., just down the street from the hotels.

Please click here to download/view a PDF file of the plans for the hotel.

Please click here for the full article.

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Historic Home Restorer Speaks Up About Why He Does What He Does


Many older homes, such as Antebellum and Victorian houses, that have been around for a long time have fallen into disrepair simply due to not having anyone there to take care of them; often, the owners have either moving on to other homes, or have otherwise become incapable of maintaining them properly. Many folks would love to see them restored, but not everyone can do so. Starkville’s Buddy Sanders is one man who is making a difference in his own 1920’s Starkville home.

“Everyone wants a nice looking home, something that’s unique, and for someone that lives in a historic home such as myself, it’s just a matter of pride and a matter of, just essentially liking the history of a community,” says historic homeowner, Buddy Sanders.

Historic Homeowner Buddy Sanders (WCBI)

“One day, some of these people that own these homes, their children will come back here and will want to see where their parents, their grandparents lived and it’s no longer here,” says Starkville resident, Faye Turner.

“If somebody don’t want it torn down, then they need to buy it, they need to preserve it, but I think they should be preserved and there is federal money and grant money out there to preserve them,” says Starkville resident, John Fondren.

The fact that construction materials and techniques change over time makes a difference, too:  “The character of the neighborhood and the structure itself. There’s generally an architectural style and materials and designs that are just unique to that structure,” says Sanders.

Sanders purchased a 90-year-old home more than a year ago; he plans on spending around $11 thousand on renovations.

“Restoring the original hardwood floors, essentially replacing the wood with materials that are alike on the home. Returning the color to a color of the house that would be typical of something that was built in the 20’s, along with doors and windows.”

Please click here for the full article and a video.

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Zoning Approved for Starkville Industrial Park

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The DIspatch

Circuit Judge James Kitchens recently affirmed a recent zoning change for a proposed 360-acre industrial park near Hwy 182 & Hwy 389. Starkville aldermen had previously re-zoned the parcel in question as appropriate for Manufacturing, but that decision was challenged by LMK LLC, Bettye Bell, Mary S. Bell, Margaret Copeland and Laura B. White. Judge Kitchens said that these appellants were unable to meet their burden “to show that the decision was invalid.”

As such, GTR LINK plans to go ahead and seek funding to the tune of $14 million that had been pledged by the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and Starkville Board of Aldermen.

Please click here to read the full article.

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Developer has Plans to Restore Historic Turn of the Century Hotels to their Original Look

Developer has Plans to Restore Historic Turn of the Century Hotels to their Original Look

On the corner of 5th Street South and 3rd Avenue South in Columbus lie a couple of hotels which once served the area well back in the early 1900’s. They have become other businesses over the past century, and have been owned by the Mackay family during most of that time. Recently, the Mackays, proprietors of Party and Paper, sold the properties to developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain. The new owners have announced their plans to restore the former hotels to their turn-of-the-century glory. They’ve got their work cut out for them, but it is their hope that they will be able to pull it off, bringing back a long-forgotten piece of Columbus’ history to downtown. With luck, this will help to beautify the area even further, and bring in more tourists and fans of historical buildings to the area. And that’s Good for Business!

Courtesy of The Dispatch – COLUMBUS

At the end of the strip of downtown buildings on the west side of the 200 block of Fifth Street South are two buildings more than 100 years old. The buildings used to be the New Stone Hotel and the Arcade Hotel in the early 1900s, and also played host to retail spaces and apartments. The new owners, developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain, would like to bring all of that back.

Susan Mackay of Party and Paper (photo courtesy The Dispatch)

Susan Mackay of Party and Paper (photo courtesy The Dispatch)

Susan Mackay said she and her brother Wayne Price sold the buildings because they felt the two developers would restore the buildings to their more original, early twentieth-century look. “I’m so pleased to have some people that are going to come in that have a beautiful vision to renovate the buildings and just make it a real showplace for Columbus and the state of Mississippi,” Susan said. “I’m just really excited for all the possibilities.”

Preparation for the renovations is already under way, which means cleanup on a large, but cautious, scale. Bathrooms in the buildings that haven’t been used since the ’60s still have claw-foot tubs, and crews found a torn, yellowed Commercial Dispatch newspaper featuring President Harry Truman on the front page in one of the old apartments. An old New Stone Hotel sign was found in the upstairs wall. It now leans against the wall of the old hotel lobby where you can still see railings around where the grand staircase once stood.

The developers plan to make a boutique hotel from a good portion of the usable space, once all is said and done; they also plan to use some of the space for apartments, and possibly some for retail space, such as a new restaurant, as well. “You’ve got to have vision,” Howard said. “If you saw this building, you’d have been like, ‘Really?’ … But you’ve got to see their potential.”

The renovations are expected to take many months to a year; Party and Paper will stay there for the time being, renting out space from the new owners.

Chain is the owner of Renovations of Mississippi Inc., which he started in 1996. A Columbus native, he said his interest in historical buildings was piqued in the ’70s when he worked as a tour guide in Columbus’s old homes. Now he owns eight downtown buildings in addition to the ones Mackay and Price sold him and has renovated buildings all over the state.

“This is a passion,” he said. “…Rebuilding Mississippi’s heritage.”


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It’s Time To Batten Down the Hatches and Make Sure Your Home is Ready for Winter

It’s Time To Batten Down the Hatches and Make Sure Your Home is Ready for Winter

Even here in the South, we still need to worry about the winter cold. Fortunately, the same steps we take to keep out the winter chill can also help to stave off the worst of the summer scorch! Read on for more details.

Courtesy of
Last year, most of us in the colder states got lucky with one of the warmest winters on record. We didn’t have to crank the heat and cheaper fuel prices staved off high utility bills. But we might not be so lucky this year. Although no one can never truly predict the exact weather months in advance, The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting “exceptionally cold” weather for most areas of the U.S. and some pundits are predicting increased utility costs as a result.

According to the laws of physics, if it’s colder outside, heat will always leave your house without a proper barrier to block its departure, and “experts estimate that 40 million single-family homes in the U.S. need more insulation,” according to Black Hills Energy, which provides gas and utilities to some of the colder states, such as Wyoming, where January temperatures can hover around -5 degrees.

Insulate just about everywhere. Things like improperly installed ceiling fans, chimneys and improperly insulated ducts can whisk heat away and cost you up to 30% of your house’s heating (or cooling) energy, and a whopping 30% of your energy costs could be saved by better insulating your attic or top floor, according to Black Hills Energy. They also state that another 20% of energy can be contained by insulating your exterior walls. And insulating the floor areas over crawl spaces, basements and garages can save another 8% if you insulate properly.
Some insulation jobs might need a professional, and if you’re choosing an insulation contractor, get a few estimates. Once you decide, make sure the contract includes the job specification, cost, method of payment and warranty information provided by the insulation material manufacturer, according to the Insulator Contractors of America. Keep in mind that some types of insulation are better for different areas of the house, and make sure that your contract lists the type of insulation to be used and where it will be used, and that each type of insulation is listed by R-value (which indicates resistance to the passage of heat).

Take a look at your windows, as well. Heat escapes through a single pane of glass almost 14 times faster than through a well-insulated wall, according to Black Hills Energy.

If boosting your home’s energy efficiency seems like too much of a financial hurdle, the Department of Energy has a Weatherization Assistance Program which, according to its website, “provides funding to states, territories and tribal governments to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families, persons with disabilities and senior citizens.” It’s also wise to check with your utility provider since programs are also offered through many utility companies and there may be state programs to assist you as well.

When buying appliances, seek Energy Star labels that indicate lower energy usage, and make sure your lint trap and exhaust trap are cleaned to prevent fire hazards and keep the dryer from working so hard.
Reducing your water heater down to 120 degrees, or turning it off when it’s not needed, can save you more than 20% on energy, according the U.S. Department of Energy. And some appliances and electronics still draw electricity when they’re not in use. Unplugging them or confining them to a power strip that you can flip on and off can help you to lower your utility bill. Also turn off lights when leaving a room, use timers on holiday lights and switch out old, fluorescent bulbs, recommended Rovito.
8. Put Weather Stripping Around Doors

If you can see daylight around your doorframe, or can feel a draft around a gap, get some weather stripping from the hardware store. “A half-inch gap around your door would be the same as a softball-sized hole in your door to let that cold air in,” Morgenstern said.

Residents in some states spend more on their utilities than others, and, if you’re new to an area, or considering a new house and mortgage, it helps to know what an average utility bill will be for your source of fuel so that you can budget ahead. (You can check out our housing cost tool here for more budget planning.) It also helps to know your credit history, because some utility companies will charge you a larger down payment if your credit isn’t stellar. (You can get a snapshot of your credit report for free every 14 days on

There is a free option that many utility companies offer that levels out your bills so that you don’t have to go into debt, overburden your credit card or become a holiday spending scrooge when you face a large utility bill. It works by mashing up your utility bills over the last year and averaging them into one consistent amount for each month.

For more details and the full article, click here:

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New Trends in Homebuying in Today’s Market

New Trends in Homebuying in Today’s Market

Homeowners these days are trending towards the “Millenial” generation, are becoming more and more diverse, and are showing a distinct preference for the suburbs, according to new research from Zillow. With them comes higher incomes, as well as slightly older, more financially stable buyers for the market, who are tired of renting and want to put down roots somewhere that they can truly call “home.”

Courtesy of

zillow-logo-150xNew Zillow Group research shows that young adults are buying homes in sufficient numbers now and they are actually driving the housing market.
Half of home buyers are under age 36.

“Millennials are shaping the market more than anyone realized. In fact, half of all buyers are under 36 and half of sellers are under 41,” said Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Wacksman, referring to results from a survey of more than 13,000 homeowners, sellers, buyers and renters that are part of the new Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report. Young adults are also driving more diversity among homeowners. Only 66 percent of millennial homeowners are white, compared with 77 percent of all homeowners. Among millennial homeowners, 17 percent are Latino or Hispanic, 10 percent are African-American and 7 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander.

Another surprise from the new report is that a large number of millennial homeowners — 47 percent — live in the suburbs. One big reason for the popularity of suburbs is cost. As urban cores have soared in popularity, so have the price tags on urban homes. To afford bigger homes, and to find the shared amenities they like such as community gyms and pools, many millennials are willing to live farther out.

Financial considerations make sense to a lot of renters, almost 60 percent of whom make less than $50,000 a year. Home buyers, by comparison, make $87,500 on average. As a result, many prospective homebuyers will look at a large number of properties before making a decision, while also simultaneously taking a look at rental properties in the same price range.  “Depending on where they live, homeownership may be out of reach,” Wacksman said.

For more info and the full article, click here:

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Old Train Depot Renovation Steams Ahead in Preparation for Shops and Apartments

Old Train Depot Renovation Steams Ahead in Preparation for Shops and Apartments


Courtesy of The Dispatch

After two years of hard work, California developer/preservationist Gayle Guynup has completed external renovations to the old Train Depot on Main near the W, and will soon begun work on the inside of the dilapidated 130-year-old structure. She stated that, among other major fixes, a new roof was put on the building, along with removal of a secondary structure. Guynup’s intention is to have a few apartments on the upper level, and commercial space on the ground floor; she hopes to have most of it leased out and occupied within nine months. “We would have loved to have had a single tenant that could have taken over the whole property,” she said.

Columbus contractor Gene Reid walks in front of the old depot on Main Street in Columbus Thursday. Finished with exterior renovations, Reid is soon to begin building apartments on the second floor of the historic structure. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

Columbus contractor Gene Reid walks in front of the old depot on Main Street in Columbus Thursday. Finished with exterior renovations, Reid is soon to begin building apartments on the second floor of the historic structure. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

Gene Reid Construction was responsible for the exterior fixes. “I think right now, we’re tentatively looking at four to five apartments, most likely four,” said Reid, adding once the permits are approved, the apartments should take six to nine months to complete. “What we’re probably going to do is build two small, efficiency-type apartments, plus two to three larger apartments.”

Please see the full article here:

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Columbus Celebrates 60 years of Pilgrimages

The people of Columbus have always known that we have a bunch of beautiful homes that are worth seeing. It seems that plenty of folks from all across the country agree with us! We’ve even had a huge celebration held every year for decades to celebrate: The Pilgrimage, which is in full swing. Take some time this weekend to indulge in a bit of Columbus’ vibrant history.
Hit the link below for the video, courtesy of WCBI:
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Starkville School Shuffle Could Impact Real Estate

Starkville School Shuffle Could Impact Real Estate


stk-ok schoolFor the second time in just two short years, parents of students in the recently-consolidated Starkville Oktibbeha County Consolidated School District may find their children in a new school. I’m not here to opine about the causes of the issues that the schools and government leadership in Oktibbeha have on their hands, but the effect it could have on home prices.

Starkville is keeping pace with major market trends nationwide, with many homes selling at peak prices, and in a very short time. The recent school moves in 2014-15 saw many homeowners selling their properties to move up or over in order to insure that their child was in what they consider a top school district. As price trends continue to rise in the area,  fueled by the continued growth of the university, many parents with children in public schools find themselves unable to afford homes in the realigned districts – or even unable to find a home for sale. Now, the changes to the school districts appear to be forcing a few families to switch around again.

Oktibbeha County and Starkville are in a difficult spot, especially with the Justice Department’s involvement. Let’s hope they can keep the changes to a minimum.



(Courtesy of WCBI) –

Some students and schools would be realigned in order to comply with federal guidelines on racial balance within the new district … The proposal would move all K – 5 students at East Elementary School into existing elementary schools of the district. The plan moves rising fifth graders to Overstreet and rising second graders to Ward Stewart. The plan, which would go into effect in August, does not include changes at West Elementary School.

The board will have a special called meeting on February 23rd. There are also several sessions for employees, parents and stakeholders. The first is Thursday night at East Elementary at 5:30pm.

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