Ferretti Party of Five
By Amanda Wells | Photos by Rory Doyle
Leah Ferretti and her husband Blake had long admired historical structures from afar, enamored of their beauty and the stories behind them. But they didn’t expect to be on what is now a mission to infuse new life into some of downtown Greenwood’s historical structures.
The Cleveland couple first fell hard for a building on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the timing was off for that project. “Our hearts were captured, but in reality, we just couldn’t make the numbers work,” Leah recalls. “So we decided to look in our own backyard here in the Mississippi Delta.”
What the Ferrettis’ search led them to was four abandoned and dilapidated buildings in downtown Greenwood. The history of these buildings – the Antoon’s Dry Goods Co. building, the Meechum building, J.W. Quinn Drug Co. building, and the Delta Feed building – struck a chord with the Ferrettis.
The Antoon’s Building was constructed in 1909 and was operated by the Antoon family as a successful department store for nearly a century. The Ferrettis have not found much on the history of the Meechum building, built in 1920. “We know that it was once a television console dealer,” says Leah. Constructed in 1922, the J.W. Quinn Drug Company was a pharmaceutical manufacturer and is commonly referred to in Greenwood as the Steele Furniture building. The Delta Feed Co. building, circa 1899, first served as a warehouse for Greenwood Wholesale Grocery Company.
“While deciding if we were going to move forward with our project, we attended two different workshops hosted by Mississippi Heritage Trust on Historical Tax Credits,” explains Leah. “We went home and started to work on the numbers while developing relationships with the City of Greenwood and Greenwood’s Main Street Director, Brantley Snipes.”
The Ferrettis’ plans now call for the four buildings to make up what will be referred to as the “Howard’s End Development.”
“Our current plans are to have a combination of commercial space with residential loft-style apartments,” says Leah. The two are now recruiting retail, professional, and restaurant tenants for their ambitious project. “Our hope is to spur the downtown district to become one of the most popular and endearing spots in Mississippi.”
In addition to support from Main Street Greenwood, the Ferrettis have benefitted from invaluable advice from John Beard and Dale Riser of Greenwood-based Beard + Riser Architects.
Utilizing both State and Federal Historic Tax Credits, the Howard’s End project will not only revitalize the buildings located within the historic Carrollton/Johnson corridor, but will infuse the economy with jobs for local craftsmen. The project will create 16 residential units, two short-term rental units, and ten commercial units in 36,713 square feet of redevelopment.
“This is our first run with utilizing Historic Tax Credits,” says Leah. “We are using them along with a combination of New Market Tax Credits. In order to make this project work, we have to develop a significant footprint using both tax credits. We plan on expanding after this project is complete and developing more of downtown Greenwood and other areas of Mississippi. This is a wonderful program that is offered at the state and federal level that more people should utilize to restore and preserve our history. We can’t move forward if we don’t know where we’ve been.”
The Ferrettis have learned a great deal from their work thus far. “You have to remain patient and be flexible,” explains Leah. “There are so many intricate pieces of the puzzle that have to be placed strategically when dealing with different entities. The biggest challenge is the initial lift. The ball is rolling, slowly, but we are progressing forward.”
It’s knowledge that Leah and Blake hope to pass to future preservationists; namely, their children, Thomas, 9, Henry, 7, and Blake, 3. “Everything we do is for those three faces,” says Leah. “They know we are building something for our family to pass on to them so that they may one day pass it on to their children.” The Ferrettis are putting into action the same vision that the Antoons and Quinns, who built the historic Greenwood structures, had for their families, to preserve their family’s future by investing in their community.
“Our boys are very intrigued with construction and history, and what better way to develop those interests than to dive into historic development,” says Leah. “I’m sure you will see more from ‘The Ferretti Brothers’ in the future.”
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