Central Tupelo downtown building renovation continues

By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A central block in downtown Tupelo is getting a major makeover.
Mike Gillentine and his business partner, Scott Wagner, have ramped up their renovation of three buildings that will house retail and residential space as well as a new restaurant.
The three sites now under renovation were previously home to Main Street Vintage Guitars, Benjamin’s and The Big Easy.
Gillentine owned and operated the guitar shop until it closed earlier this year.
Swirlz, currently located on Court Street downtown, will take over the retail space previously occupied by the guitar store. Its lease begins in September.
The owners of the Neon Pig on North Gloster are opening Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen, or KOK, in the space that was once Kermit’s Bakery. It was most recently a restaurant called The Big Easy.
KOK will offer seating on the first and second floor of the building and is set to open by the end of July, though no official date has been announced.
The building that was formerly Benjamin’s – and most recently, Latin Quarters – will be converted into two smaller retail spaces of approximately 1,800 square feet each. The second floor will be converted into residential space.
There will be six furnished apartments when the project is complete. Gillentine said his primary focus now is on restoring the facade of the building.
“We’re going back to the way the building originally looked,” he said.
A green metal covering currently stands in place of the original brick facade. Gillentine said the metal will be removed and the original eight windows on the building front will be restored.
Gillentine and his business partner plan to outfit the residential suites with high-end antiques. One will hold furniture original to the Goodlett Manor.
Several business owners in the area have contacted Gillentine about leasing the available retail space, though nothing has been committed. The type of businesses proposed have included a salon, cigar shop and culinary store.