City and County Agree to Co-Own Historic Russ and Brown House

Marianna- For the past few years, the Russ Rouse in Marianna has served as the home to the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. But recently, the chamber became unable to afford to stay in the building.

When they began approaching government entities about buying it, no one else could afford it either, at least not on their own. But, after months of discussions, two new owners stepped up to the plate.

"There will be joint ownership between the City of Marianna and the [Jackson County Board of County Commissioners]', Commissioner Kenneth Stephens said..

The chamber said they planned to rent space in the house, and the Jackson County Tourist Development Council would remain in the building.

Marianna city officials agreed to pay off the chamber's debt on the house, while the TDC agreed to match that money for maintenance.

Stephens also told us,"we have rental agreements with the chamber of commerce to rent for five years. Also, there will be a rental agreement to be enacted later when the Brown House is renovated, the Jackson County Development [Council] will move in."

"We've been saying there's a lot of optimism that something could be worked out on the Russ House," Jackson County Chamber of Commerce CEO, Jeff Massey said. "Unfortunately, sometimes this takes time, and there's a lot of different moving parts to the agreement- there's a lot of different entities involved in the agreement. So, it's just not something that comes together over night. So today was a culmination of a lot of hard work."

As of Tuesday, the agreement was still preliminary.

"There were a couple blanks left, [in the contract] like the purchase price. And the reason that was done," Massey explained, "is the purchase price would be the principal left on the Brown House, plus interest. You can't calculate the interest until you have a close date."

Massey said he hoped the contract would be completed before the first of the year.

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