Category Archives: Columbus

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.

Please click here for more information

 

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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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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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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!

Please click here for the full article.

 

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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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Graham Roofing Gets New Owner; Books & Boards Closing Its Doors

Graham Roofing Gets New Owner; Books & Boards Closing Its Doors

Golden Triangle – Courtesy of The Dispatch

 

Christee Holbrook – courtesy photo

West Point’s own Graham Roofing has recently seen Christee Holbrook promoted to president and CEO, following her buyout of the company last month.  The business has been serving the needs of locals for fifty years, and one of its founding members has finally retired after all those years. Holbrook originally  joined the company in 1997 as an accountant.

Two others were also chosen as managing partners in order to help run the business: “I chose Christee Holbrook, Suzanne Richardson, and Johnathan Poland to lead Graham Roofing into the future because I knew GRI would have a leadership team with vision, integrity and professionalism,” Hooks said in a company press release. “There was no doubt they would use our company history as their foundation, along with their fresh vision for direction and their faith to take GRI into its next generation of success.”

The primary office will remain at 680 Tibbee Road in West Point, with Tupelo’s location as a satellite branch.

Books & Boards/Three Sisters Pie Company (Photo By Jeremy Hammack)

The people of Columbus are getting ready to say goodby to a much newer shop that has been bringing joy to the community since it first opened fewer than two years ago: Books & Boards, a combination of a small, cozy bookstore and a board gaming cafe. They have shared the space on Main Street with the Three Sisters Pie Company almost since the beginning, and the pie shop will remain open at that location. They will continue to host several of Books and Boards’ most popular events, including poetry open mic nights, bingo nights and trivia nights.

“We are so incredibly proud of the community that Books and Boards has cultivated,” Owner Ashley Gressett said. “I’m sad to see it go, but I’m excited to know that the community we built will still have a place at Three Sisters Pie.” Books and Boards will host a farewell party on April 28. Gressett said the event will be open to the public and include pizza, games and “lots of laughter to go around.”

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Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Robert Smith and Harry Sanders – Courtesy photo

The fate of the joint Lowndes/Columbus 2% restaurant tax is currently being hotly debated, as it is due to expire at the end of June. It normally brings in about $2 million per year in tax revenue from restaurants that make over $325,000 per year in prepared food and beverage sales. One of the primary issues that caused the tax’s renewal to die in committee a few weeks ago was the debate over whether the $325K floor should be in there at all; without it, all restaurants would be assessed the tax; another is whether the city of Columbus should simply go ahead and assess its own version of the tax, should the State fail to reinstate it sometime soon. The tax revenue goes primarily to fund tourism, parks and economic development.

“My thing is that if our legislators aren’t going to take out the ($325,000) floor, we’d be crazy to send anything down there that says otherwise,” Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said. “Two-million dollars is at stake here. That’s what we have to remember. So if the only way to get this tax back in place is to have the floor, that’s what we would have to do. If that means the county isn’t a part of it, that’s their decision.”

Should the city move forward with its own tax, it may mean changing how the existing Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau’s is funded; the new tax, in this case, would provide said funding in lieu of the old one. Mayor Smith remarked that “[W]ith [CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter’s] contacts and experience, we’d be foolish not to use that. . . We’d have to do something about the board because if it were to be city only, we’d need a board with [only] city people on it. But as far as running tourism, I still think the CVB is the best way to do it.”

The county, in contrast, wants to remove the “floor” on the tax, but keep it the way it was – a joint county/city tax. Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said, “The county has as much interest in tourism as anybody. . . We want to keep it exactly as it is, with the tax in place like it’s always been. … The only difference is taking away the floor because having that floor doesn’t make any sense. That’s been our position all along and I don’t see any reason why it would change.”

As it stands, if the tax is allowed to die later this year, any reinstatements or changes will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes next January; this would mean losing out on a year or more of tax revenue. While it is theoretically possible to get a short-term, one-year version of the tax added to an upcoming State special session, it seems that it is unlikely that a local tax would be able to get onto the agenda at such a meeting.

Please click here for the full article.

Please click here for a Dispatch editorial on this topic.

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Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

A group of generous locals have recently begun handing out food to those in need at 14th Ave & 20th St, not far from the Boys & Girls’ Club. They set up shop on Monday afternoons at around the time school lets out; they try to have about 50 meals made each week, and it’s all paid for out of their own pockets, plus the occasional donation.

Shannon Scott gives Leon Brewer a sandwich on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. A different member of the group supplies the food each week.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

“It’s free, baby,” Willie “Sweet” Scott assured a young girl and her two siblings as he and his friend Charles Clemmons saw to it they each had evertything they needed.

“It was set up kind of for the kids, but we don’t turn away (any)body,” Clemmons said. “I wouldn’t want to miss somebody, tell somebody, ‘No you’re too old.’ That may be his only meal. People (are) hungry sometimes coming through the neighborhood.”

The group sets up their stand on Mondays from 3-5 p.m. where they give away whatever they’ve prepared that week.

“I’m just happy to be out here doing what I can and kind of helping,” fellow volunteer Shannon Scott said. “Of course, you run into all sorts of characters. You got your ones who want something for nothing and then you’ve got people who come and you know they really need it. They make it all worth it.”

Please click here for the full article.

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La Quinta Planning to Open On Hwy 45 by May

La Quinta Planning to Open On Hwy 45 by May

Columbus, MS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Construction continues on the La Quinta Inn in Columbus Monday. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

The construction of the new La Quinta hotel on the site formerly occupied by the Ramada Inn will soon be completed, with the opening of the hotel quickly to follow.

John Tampa, owner of the La Quinta hotel which is currently under construction at the site of the former Ramada Inn at 1200 Hey 45 N, recently announced, “We’re looking at opening in mid-May . . . Like any projects, there have been some delays, but we’re back on schedule.”

Contractor Larry Holden reports that “The interior units are about 90-percent complete.” He noted that one of the aforementioned inevitable delays was a result of code issues leftover from the prior tenants: “It’s something that happens with older buildings,” he said. “A lot of times you don’t know about them until you get into the demolition. That was what happened here.”

Kenneth Wiegel, the city’s building inspector, stated that “Once they got into demolition, there was an electrical code issue that had to be corrected . . .Then there was some post-tension concrete issues that they had to bring in an expert to deal with. Both of those issues have been addressed.”

The construction is anticipated to be complete by late April, in time for the 105-room facility to open in mid-May.

Please click here for the full article.

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