Foundation President Speer Burdette announced Tuesday that two vacant buildings - the former Seymour’s Engraving store and the former Kress department store next door - will be combined into a 30,000-square-foot multiuse building that will have four loft condominiums, large and small banquet rooms, 2,000 square feet of office/ retail space, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant with a covered courtyard dining area, a kitchen, courtyard plaza, balcony terrace, pedestrian bridge to the rear parking deck, a roof garden, and common areas with elevators and restrooms, among other amenities.
“We expect it to be substantially complete by late fall,” although Jan. 10, 2011, is the official projected date, Burdette said. “We’d love to be able to have it open for Christmas parties.”
Burdette said four or five people have expressed an interest in buying the loft condos, which would be a first for downtown LaGrange.
The foundation, which has invested heavily in the downtown area, will retain ownership of the condos, restaurant and office/retail space, and donate the rest to the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority as a revenue source.
The Kress and McLellan banquet rooms, as they will be called, could be used for wedding receptions, dinner theater, dances sponsored by Christian youth organizations, and other social or business functions, Burdette said.
“The foundation believes this will be a huge revenue producer,” he said. “… It’s another people generator for the downtown, like the athletic club, the restaurants and the movie theater.”
The foundation is working with the Branding Firm in LaGrange to come up with a name for the development.
“We’re thankful that the foundation continues to show their trust in us to take on and manage this type of investment downtown,” said Downtown Authority Chairman Shawn Zwilling, president of the Branding Firm.
Langford Construction Co. was awarded the renovation contract, but Burdette said it’s being negotiated and the final price has yet to be determined. Architect Skip Smith of LaGrange has worked on the project with Rick Waterhouse, director of real estate development for the Callaway foundations.
Both buildings were constructed in 1913. Kress did a renovation in 1961 and the store closed in 1979, then became a Top Dollar Store from 1980 to 1995. Janice Taylor Interiors occupied the building from 2002 to 2004.
Seymour’s former building started as Callaway Department Store, but it burned the next year. McLellan’s opened there in 1924 and closed in 1975. It was Fabric Outlet from 1976 to 1988 and Seymour’s En-graving from 1989 to 2001.
Meanwhile, Charles Hudson Jr. and his daughter and son, Mary Ellen and Chase Hudson, have tentative plans to open a restaurant at 124 Main St., in the former space of Tulla’s Bayou Bar & Grill, which closed a few months ago. The building is owned by the Downtown Authority.
The Hudsons plan to keep C’sons, a fine dining establishment at 120 Main St., that opened in May. The other location would have “a more casual dining atmosphere, more of a bar and grill,” Mary Ellen Hudson said.
“We want to keep downtown LaGrange full of good restaurants, like the Basil Leaf and Venucci,” she said. “We want to keep them coming.”
Joel Martin can be reached at jmartin@ lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 235.