City still eyeing the Batte Furniture building as the headquarters of the future Tisdale Library

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – As the city begins to receive proposals to demolish the former Charles Tisdale Library, officials are still hoping to move it to another building on the same street.

The city recently began announcing bids to demolish and clean up the former library property at 807 E. Northside Dr.

Meanwhile, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the city is still moving forward with plans to relocate the branch to the former Batte Furniture Building at 1010 E. Northside, about two blocks away.

“We are staying true to our commitment. We’ve been committed for a long time to the best direction that we’re going, and that’s definitely where we’re going,” he said.

Lumumba says the city has just completed an environmental assessment of the Batte building and called on an architect to “identify how it will fit into our footprint, not just for a library but also [for a] police station, so we are no longer on a long-term lease,” he said.

“Our lease agreements [amount] to about a million dollars a year. And so we are trying to reduce our rental footprint.”

The Precinct Four is located in a shopping mall on the 4900 block of Old Canton Road. Currently, the city rents this space.

Tisdale closed in April 2017 due to flooding and black mold issues there. The Jackson/Hinds Library System returned the building to the city in 2019.

Since then, the branch has become an eyesore along the busy Northside corridor. It was also looted by vagrants, with windows being smashed, books scattered across the library floor and other materials such as shelves being taken away. Meanwhile, the building had become a warehouse for shopping carts and other debris.

Batte announced in 2019 that it would close after 136 years in operation.

The Batte Building was built in 1962 and is approximately 41,600 square feet, according to Commercialcafe.com. The building is currently listed for $1,695,000.

The city first announced that it was considering moving the library to Batte in June 2021.

Lumumba said efforts were delayed, in part due to “finance”. Making sure we’re checking the boxes to make sure the pots of money we’re trying to use are eligible to do so,” he said. “As you know, I’m a naturally impatient person, but I’ve learned that you need to adopt some level of patience when dealing with government bureaucracy.”

He said the city is planning to use American Rescue Plan Act dollars to fund the project. The exact cost of the project was unknown, with the mayor saying the city was still in talks with the building’s owners about the price.

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