June 17, 2013 10:05:50 AM
Starkville officials are hopeful a proposed redevelopment district for a portion of the Miss. Highway 182 corridor will help spur growth and investments, thereby broadening the city's tax base in the future.
The urban renewal project area, which could be approved by aldermen Tuesday, would encompass 472 parcels along the well-traveled city thoroughfare. A report located within the Tuesday meeting's epacket states 59 percent of the area is occupied by substandard buildings, while 25 percent of the land area is vacant.
Following state statute for such initiatives, the redevelopment district could assist with property acquisition and disposition; building rehabilitation or demolition efforts; public-private partnerships; infrastructure improvements; and straight-forward business recruitment.
The redevelopment district would work toward facilitating gateway developments at the Jackson Street intersection; mixed-use and upper-floor residential developments along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive; and infill development along the Russell-Lampkin streets corridor between downtown and Mississippi State University. Parking needs, civic gathering points and public art displays are also expected to be addressed with the initiative.
The plan already has the backing of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. The e-packet contains a letter from GSDP CEO Jennifer Gregory encouraging aldermen to approve the motion due to the district's ability to attract new businesses.
If given the go-ahead, Mayor Parker Wiseman said the redevelopment district and its five-person board should be in place by the end of summer and ready to begin work sometime this fall.
"Redevelopment is often more difficult than original development. It takes place typically in older areas that have been previously developed. Due to the age of first-generation developments there, often properties take on blight over time," he said. "Sometimes market forces alone are not enough for redevelopment opportunities to be born. Something has to stop the cycle."
Infrastructure needs - specifically vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian transportation avenues - will also be examined by the redevelopment district, but other area projects are ongoing to enhance those shortcomings.
Officials announced in April that Mississippi Department of Transportation officials are developing a major Miss. Highway 182 improvement project which would overlay the road's surface, develop landscape islands, improve sidewalk access and re-pour driveways.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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