Tupelo won't ink Spain House deal until costs clear

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – City leaders won’t sign a 25-year agreement to maintain the Spain House until learning the cost of moving and stabilizing the structure.
On the advice of city attorney John Hill, the City Council decided to postpone the agreement until after seeking – and receiving – bids on the project. Only if the bids match or fall below the projected budget will the council OK the agreement.
It’s the last step before the Mississippi Department of Archives and History authorizes a $175,000 grant for relocating the house. Tupelo won the grant in December but just learned it’s contingent upon the 25-year maintenance agreement.
Council members initially worried the agreement would force Tupelo to renovate the house, but a MDAH spokeswoman said last week it only requires the city to move it “and mothball it.”
The century-old Spain House sits at the corner of West Main and Madison streets on property owned by Calvary Baptist Church. The church doesn’t want the house and has given the city and the Tupelo Historic Preservation Commission two years to move it. The deadline expires Oct. 1.
Commission member Doyce Deas said a professional contractor had estimated a $100,000 price to move the house from its current location to its new site, just a few blocks south, on the corner of South Church and Carnation streets.
That would leave $75,000 to stabilize the structure once it arrives at its new location.
But if the bids solicited by the city come back over budget, the overage would come from the city, according to the grant deal.
“What if you put out a bid, and you get something back that’s not acceptable,” Hill told the council during a Monday work session. “The better course of action is to keep it on the study agenda until you see what the prices come back as.”
Council members on Tuesday moved the item to their next meeting’s action agenda, but President Fred Pitts said they’ll likely table it then.
Pitts said the city could put out bids by early next week, but it might take an additional six weeks before it can open them.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com