TRA refocuses on residential development

By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Redevelopment Agency is refocusing its efforts on the residential development of the Fairpark District in downtown Tupelo.
Monday, the agency voted to approve a new contract with RKH Development to facilitate marketing and sales of the residential portion of Fairpark that have lagged in recent years.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. told board members that he has been working with railroad companies that run through the city – Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Kansas City Southern – to establish a quiet zone around the tracks that run through the neighborhood.
A quiet zone would mean trains moving through the neighborhood would not sound whistles for a certain distance during certain times of the day.
“The housing piece (is close) to taking off again,” Reed said.
Keith Henley, the owner of RKH Development, said that he will work at recruiting developers and builders to add new homes to Fairpark.
Debbie Brangenberg, director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association said rooftops drive commercial traffic.
“Our goal is to move forward with the residential component,” she said.
The TRA has struggled since the slump in the real estate market to drive development in the downtown neighborhood. In 2012, the agency exercised its option to buy back land from restaurant franchisees that failed to build there after purchasing a commercial lot.
The land was then sold at a discounted price to brothers Ben and Johnny Robbins who also own Papa V’s, to build a franchise of Mugshots Grill and Bar in October 2012 after lengthy talks.
Although the TRA offered significant incentives to do so, they have not yet begun construction on the site.
Jonny Robbins told the Daily Journal in March that plans for the restaurant are still being considered. “It’s probably going to happen,” he said. “If not by me, then somebody. … no firm decision has been made one way or the other.”
sarah.robinson@journalinc.com