The Clarion-Ledger, 3/28/8

Equipped with hard hats, the general public was welcomed into the lobby of the historic King Edward Hotel for the first time in years Thursday.

Though white dust left from construction work still covers much of the floor, the cream marble tile shines through in places. Local leaders, state dignitaries and residents admired some of the original neoclassical detailing that still adorns the remnants of walls and columns in the lobby and mezzanine of the King Edward.

Gov. Haley Barbour called it a a “jewel” that will be surrounded by other jewels as downtown undergoes more than $750 million worth of development.

Barbour reminded the crowd of more than 100 that though the outside might not look as though much has happened, much environmental remediation and gutting has been going on.

The hotel is expected to have a grand opening on July 4, 2009. A few months before the opening, the developers will put the apartments and condos up for presale and rent. Watkins said most will cost between $950 and $1,250 a month.