The historic Jones Building in downtown Canton will be put on the market for lease or sale for six months, Canton City Council members decided on Thursday night.
The former retail store, owned and restored to its original appearance by the city, has been the subject of council discussion for months on its future use. Some have suggested selling it, others keeping it for public uses and others favoring a public-private partnership.
Councilwoman Jo Ellen Wilson suggested marketing the building through a contract with the Downtown Development Authority as a way to see what uses businesses and other organization might envision for it.
"If we were to market it, we would get ideas for it," Wilson said.
Mayor Gene Hobgood, who has been in favor of the city retaining ownership and creating an arts center in the building, agreed with the idea of putting it on the market, but suggested limiting the period to six months, to which council members agreed.
Councilman Farris Yawn said there is interest in the community for having an event space within the building. A local organization wanted to have its annual event this year in the building, but its interior is not finished enough to accommodate that, he said.
Councilman Bill Grant said he envisions some sort of public-private partnership in the building as the best option.
City Attorney Robert Dyer told council members he would have a contract for marketing the Jones Building ready for their review soon.
In the meantime, Reinhardt University has expressed an interest in looking at the building as a possible temporary home for its nursing program for several years, until a permanent facility could be built on campus, City Manager Billy Peppers told council members.
Work to restore the building began in October of 2017. The goal was to redevelop the building in two phases, first addressing the building’ structure and secondly, an operational renovation. The first phase, which was recently complete, included replacing the roof, cleaning the facade, repairing and/or replacing windows, and masonry and keeping historic aspects of the commercial storefront design intact. Dropped ceilings and non-load bearing interior walls were removed, exposing joists and about 45 beams.
The building located at 130 E. Main Street first opened its doors as Jones Mercantile in 1879 and was a general goods store selling everything from hardware, sundries, food, furniture, toys, and caskets. Jones Mercantile accepted mill currency and store credit making necessity shopping convenient for workers.