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First Steps Toward Sandfield Re-Development Taken

First Steps Toward Sandfield Re-Development Taken

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Local developer Jabari Edwards, a Sandfield native, recently had the opportunity to take a good, hard look at his old stomping grounds. What he saw motivated him to do something about the urban blight and other issues that had brought the area to its current state. Thus, he decided to do something about it; “…I just thought to myself, ‘This isn’t the Sandfield I grew up in,'” Edwards said.

Jabari Edwards (photo courtesy of The Dispatch)

He is working with the Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State to come up with a comprehensive plan for redeveloping Sandfield, from 15th Street North to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. “We’re taking a holistic approach looking at overall well-being,” Edwards said. “What does it do for crime in the area, for kids going to school and for our employment base? … For me, this is a labor of love because this is my community,” he added. “No matter where I go, Sandfield will always be a part of me.”

A first, tangible step has already been taken – a former housing development on the corner of Martin Luther King and College Street was destroyed in a controlled burn session by the local Fire Department in a training exercise. This makes it just one of fifteen or so such controlled burns conducted in the last twelve months. Conducting these training exercises has the added benefit of helping the local FD to maintain its certifications, a notable contributor towards lowering home insurance rates.

After the dust settled, groundbreaking work was immediately begun on a dozen single-family homes that will be sold for prices ranging from about $100,000~120,000 each. This pricing structure, which will include both rent-to-own and traditional home sales, will also allow homebuyers (especially first-timers) to qualify for financial aid via Mississippi Home Corps, HUD, and other agencies. The hope is that the homes will all be ready within the next nine to twelve months, and will be simply the first step toward improving the area for residents old and new.

“We’re all trying to beautify the community and draw people here,” Fire Chief Martin Andrews said. “If we can do it legally and the right way, we try to help with new developments because they add value to the community and we need the training opportunities. So it’s a win-win.”

“These [blighted] properties were an eyesore in a main thoroughfare of the community,” Mayor Robert Smith commented. “… Everybody needs a nice place to live, and quality of life is important regardless of income. These will be nice homes that will enhance the neighborhood, and they should also reduce crime because when you remove blight, you remove a lot of the places where your criminals hang out. …We would hope whoever buys these homes (once they are completed in Sandfield) will take pride in their home and their neighborhood.”

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Lee Middle Redevelopment May Be Coming to Life Soon

Columbus Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday released possible future plans for the Lee Middle School property.

An anonymous developer purchased an option on the 15-acre site in November, and he plans to preserve most of the original school’s 1950s-era structure for reuse. He also intends to reuse and enhance as much of the remainder as possible “with the enhancement of Lee High School in mind,” the press release said. The second phase includes the construction of new buildings, making up a mixture of commercial retail and apartments.

John Acker – courtesy of the Dispatch

The city Board of Adjustments and Appeals will soon take into consideration the CRA’s request to change the property’s zoning from R-1 (single-family residential) to C-1 (neighborhood commercial).

During Phase 1 of the proposed re-development, which is estimated to cost between $3 and 5 million, the following changes are planned: Converting the existing cafeteria into a 16,000 sq.ft. restaurant or banquet space; a 24,000 sq.ft. multi-use venue/community center in the auditorium; and converting the gym into a 22,000 sq.ft. free-standing retail space. There are also plane to implement an apartment complex in the existing classroom buildings. Phase 1 is expected to be completed by January 2020.

Phase 2 would see a 4,000 sq.ft. restaurant in place of the front lawn and gym parking lot. Also, there are plans for a 90~100,000 sq.ft. mixed-use commercial space, to include both retail and residential areas. That phase is expected to cost $10 million.

The intention is that the plan will supply 50 to 100 construction jobs, 70 restaurant jobs, 40 to 80 free-standing retail space jobs, five to eight venue and apartment management jobs, and 25 to 30 part-time venue event jobs.

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Columbus’ Rite Aid on Hwy 45 Closing Its Doors

Columbus’ Rite Aid on Hwy 45 Closing Its Doors

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Rite Aid Pharmacy on Highway 45 will close later this month after Walgreens bought more than 1,900 Rite Aid stores nationwide. All prescription accounts locally have already been transferred to the Columbus Walgreens. Photo by: Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff

The local Rite Aid Pharmacy at 1800 Hwy 45 recently announced that they will be shutting down this month, pursuant to a deal worked out between their company and Walgreens’. Any prescriptions customers have there have already been transferred to the neighboring Walgreens, and the store will be liquidating its remaining stock until May 18th, or until stock runs out, whichever happens first, according to an anonymous employee.

Nationwide, Walgreens has agreed to purchase 1,932 stores and three distribution centers from Rite Aid for nearly $4.4 billion.

The property is being marketed by SRS Real Estate Partners in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Tronox’ Flagship Plant Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Tronox’ Flagship Plant Celebrates 60th Anniversary

HAMILTON, MS – Courtesy of the Monroe Journal

Tronox (formerly Kerr-McGee) recently noted its 60th anniversary with a gala celebration at its main titanium dioxide plant in Hamilton, bringing together many of its 427 employees, 150 contractors, retirees, local dignitaries, and company leaders.

“In many ways, our company was sort of born in Oklahoma City with the Kerr-McGee legacy. In truth, the heart of our company is here in Hamilton, and it’s really ironic and sweet to think about how full-circle our company has come,” said Tronox President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffry Quinn. He went on to state his confidence in the company’s continued great success, saying that  “The history here is very rich. The pride that’s been accomplished is real, and the excitement about the future is clearly discernable.”

“Without you, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate a 60th anniversary in Hamilton,” said Tronox Chief Operating Officer Jean-Francois Turgeon. “You have created that presence that’s leading today. Without the past and without the effort of the past, we wouldn’t be here in the present. It’s obviously our job as leaders is to create the future for Hamilton.”

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Sunsations of Starkville Remodeling, Becoming Golden Glow

Sunsations of Starkville Remodeling, Becoming Golden Glow

STARKVILLE – From a PRESS RELEASE Courtesy of Golden Glow Salon

Starkville’s Sunsations tanning salon will be undergoing extensive renovations during the next month as they transition to becoming Golden Glow Tanning Salon! The store wil be changing to better match their Columbus location, in order to better serve all of their existing customers. Once the changeover is complete, customers will be able to utilize service packages purchased at either store in both stores.

You can find them on FaceBook here.

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Peco Foods to Bring $40M Warehouse, 300 Jobs to West Point

Peco Foods to Bring $40M Warehouse, 300 Jobs to West Point

WEST POINT, Miss. (Excerpt/Edited PRESS RELEASE) –Courtesy of WCBI

Peco Foods CEO Mark Hickman announced today that the company is locating in the existing 185,000-square-foot cold-storage warehouse formerly occupied by AmeriCold in West Point. The Tusaloosa, AL-based company is planning to spend $40 million to construct the facility, and anticipates that it will create three hundred local jobs as a result.

“The addition of the West Point facility to the Peco Foods’ portfolio and the creation of so many new jobs for the people of the Golden Triangle Region demonstrate how existing companies in our state benefit from our productive workforce and prime location in the fastest growing region of the U.S.,” Gov. Phil Bryant said.

“It’s exciting to welcome more jobs to the West Point area,” said Mayor Robbie Robinson. “This company is providing jobs in a sector we’re familiar with, in a more advanced environment, with a high rate of pay for our citizens. It’s a great opportunity.”

Peco Foods has more than 6,000 employees and six state-of-the-art poultry complexes in Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas which supply a broad range of products and services to national restaurant chains, regional food service distributors and retail grocers, as well as international accounts.

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Weekend Sports Tournaments Expected to Draw Large Crowds

Weekend Soccer & Tennis Tourneys Expected to Draw Large Crowds

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Nancy Carpenter reports that “Every hotel room is sold out in Columbus,” in anticipation of this weekend’s soccer and tennis tournaments. Over five thousand vistitors are expected to come to town for the soccer tourney alone. The Admiral Cup Soccer Tournament will begin Saturday at 8 AM, and will continue throughout the weekend on fields at Columbus High School, Joe Cook Elementary and the Lowndes County Soccer Complex.

Greg Lewis, CRA Director

“Any time that we can bring that many people into our city that have to spend the night, stay in our hotels, they have to purchase our food, they have to buy our gas, that’s a tremendous plus for the city of Columbus,” said Greg Lewis, director of the Columbus Recreation Authority. “And that’s really one of the reasons that we bid on the tournament, to make sure that we get people to come into our town.”

About 450 players are expected for the weekend’s Mississippi Over 65 USTA League Championship tennis tournament at the Magnolia Tennis Club; anywhere from another 1~2,000 visitors are expected to come in tow or just to watch.

Both of these events are packing GTR hotels to their limits, and this also means more business at gas stations, grocery stores, local restaurants, and more! And THAT’S Good for Business!

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New Steakhouse Restaurant to Open in Starkville

New Steakhouse Restaurant to Open in Starkville

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News

1883 Smokehouse, a new family-friendly barbecue eatery, is set to open in the old Penn’s Fish House location on Avenue of the Patriots. (Photo by Mary Rumore, SDN)

Mark Welch, owner of Sturgis Smokehouse,has stated that he will be opening the 1883 Smokehouse in Starkville in just a few weeks. The family-friendly venue will be at the former location of Penn’s Fish House, at Hwy 12 and Avenue of the Patriots. He added that the menu will be similar, but with some changes: “It’s basically the same, but it’s a casual steakhouse at night, and it’s going to have the largest salad bar in Starkville,” Welch said. “It’s going to be six feet long. We’re really hitting on pork chops, ribeye steak sandwiches, filets and catfish at night.” They will also serve blue plate lunches.

Welch said that the name is a tribute to Sturgis’ itself: “The 1883 is the homage to Sturgis,” Welch said “That’s the year Sturgis was developed. So we’re basically tying it back into Sturgis with The 1883 where we got started.”

The Sturgis location will remain open, Welch said. “We wanted to do the one in Sturgis to test all the menu items out, but basically we want to open up a bigger location.”

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To Buffet or Not To Buffet

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

While the Ryan’s Buffet building went up for sale a week ago,  their Director of Marketing, Mike Griffith, has announced the restaurant will be able to remain in operation until a final sale is made; it will be up to the buyer to decide whether or not to keep it open beyond that point. “It is not a certainty that the restaurant will close, as we are currently in negotiations with the landlord for a new lease agreement,” Griffith said. “A final decision to close the restaurant cannot be made until those negotiations are exhausted.”

Buyers have reportedly expressed interest in the site, and the current lease lasts until the end of June; Griffith denied a report claiming that the restaurant’s employees had been notified of the restaurant’s closure.

 

The landowner is currently asking approximately $900,000 for the site.

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Starkville to Get New Public Housing and Commercial Space

Starkville to Get New Public Housing and Commercial Space

Starkville – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Local attorney Johnny Moore recently spoke with Starkville aldermen on behalf of Tuscalloosa developer Christopher Dobbs at their board meeting. They discussed potential plans to move public housing development Pecan Acres to a new location, freeing up the original site on Highway 12 for commercial development.  The Starkville Housing Authority and HUD are also involved with the possible project.

Attorney Johnny Moore speaks to aldermen during Tuesday’s board meeting – Credit: Alex Holloway, Dispatch Staff

While the exact location of the new Pecan Acres site has yet to be determined, it will still be within Ward 7, and current residents will have first choice of housing units to move into at the new location. The new site will be 100% ready before requiring anyone from the old one to decide whether to move there or go elsewhere: “The way this is going to take place, the units will be built, and then they will move into the new units,” Moore said. “Nobody’s going to be displaced for any period of time.”

The aldermen seemed receptive to the idea, according to reports. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said that “This is a once-in-a-lifetime (opportunity). . . So if Volunteer Starkville wants to get involved or anyone wants to help, there’s tons of outreach programs out there that could help.”

“We’re going to take the Pecan Acres property and put about $150 million in infrastructure improvements in it,” Moore said. “It’s going to increase the funds that our schools will receive by about half a million dollars a year. We’re going to receive sales tax. We’re going to receive property tax. We’re going to get people who are living in public housing that’s over 70 years old in new housing.”

The aldermen also discussed potential interest in a planned EMS district, and the matter will be open to input from EMS service providers at their May 1st meeting. The idea is that it should be possible, within the defined district, to house both fire trucks and Fire Dept. ambulances at the same stations, improving response times and allowing easier access to OCH Regional Medical Center.

The fact that ambulance services are generally run at a loss, and must therefore be subsidized, was brought up as part of the discussion; it will be discussed further at their next meeting, along with ideas for potential outside firms that can assist with implementation.

Please click here for the full article.

 

 

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