By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Property owner and landlord Stacey McFerrin believes the $2.9 million taxpayer-funded residential redevelopment effort could learn a lot from 1214 West Jackson St.
McFerrin sees his most recent house renovation as a potential model for the city’s public-private partnership to improve blighted areas in a highly trafficked location bordering traditional neighborhoods.
His renovated house entered the market Friday, updated with new appliances, redone hardwood floors and new tile. It has an asking price of $84,000, the same ballpark as the city envisions for the homes in its West Jackson Street area public-private partnership redevelopment.
McFerrin sees himself as misunderstood with good intentions.
“Everybody thinks I’m being ugly to them,” he said Monday, walking through his newest renovation. “But this is my business.”
McFerrin, a Joyner neighborhood resident, was referring to his refusal to sell his residential properties to the city for its plan to lure more young families or retirees to buy and live in modest-priced housing in the West Jackson Street neighborhood
The relationship between the property owner and the city’s project underscores the challenges of city redevelopment efforts, which often require plan Bs and Cs, more patience and a creative thinking. The West Jackson Street area was targeted by the city for revitalization after a steady trend of increased crime, deteriorating properties and fewer homeowners in the area, which borders the solidly middle class Joyner neighborhood.
Between city and its nonprofit private partner, the Neighborhood Development Corporation, the project has acquired about 25 properties, about twice as many as McFerrin owns in the same area, which also includes Chapman Drive and Shirley Avenue.
NDC members – a group of bankers, real estate brokers, and business leaders – stopped negotiating with McFerrin to seek properties identified as blighted and better suited for demolition.
Chris Rogers, professional real estate appraiser and head of NDC’s property purchase committee, described the prices McFerrin demanded for his properties as “unreasonable,” “overinflated” and a poor investment of taxpayer money. Instead of including McFerrin’s houses, NDC will pursue adjacent and other nearby land.
“We do not need his properties for our vision,” Rogers wrote in an email to the Daily Journal on Monday.
McFerrin acquired some houses in the areas through banks looking to unload foreclosed properties at a bargain price. However, he doesn’t think he should sell for a low price just because he found a deal.
“This is my retirement,” he said. “If you put money into an investment fund, you don’t want it to break even.”
NDC negotiations with McFerrin have led to frustration among the volunteer group, while McFerrin says he’s under no obligation to sell to anyone. City officials wouldn’t provide a time frame Monday when asked about the project’s next phase – enhanced public infrastructure.
McFerrin, however, has a target date to stay motivated. He considers his properties as his own personal private-sector neighborhood improvement plan, which he expects to help fund his retirement.
“I’ve got a 10-year plan and am in year 6,” he said.