Downtown Tupelo gains spotlight for Fairpark

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Work on Tupelo's evolving Fairpark District was honored Thursday during the awards luncheon of the Mississippi Main Street Association.

Efforts to renovate the old fairgrounds into a multi-faceted downtown development received the Best Public-Private Partnership Project award. The property is the site of rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley's return home concert in 1950, which is being celebrated at this year's Elvis Festival June 2-4 in Tupelo.

The state Main Street Association recognized the success of the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency, which was created by the Tupelo City Council to convert the old fairgrounds into an area with retail, residential and entertainment development.

“The Tupelo Redevelopment Agency's charge was to make this project successful and they are truly succeeding,” said Jackson actor/author John Maxwell, master of ceremonies for the event.

Other awards

Tupelo also received other awards at the luncheon.

Debbie Brangenberg, manager of the Tupelo Main Street Association, said the awards luncheon accolades were the culmination of much hard work since the association was created in 1991.

“We have been working on the Fairpark District and all the other projects for 15 years, and the rest of the world is just figuring it out,” she said. “I am glad to see what we set out to do is being recognized.”

She said it had taken the work of many volunteers.

Chris Rogers, a Tupelo appraiser and TRA chairman, received the Special Service Award for his work on Fairpark.

Rogers was recognized for providing “untold hours as he worked daily for over nine years to assure the success of the Fairpark Project.”

Mike Williams and Jeff Michaels of Tupelo's Williams and Michaels Developers were recognized for their renovation of the Bishop Place on South Green Street.

“The people of Tupelo think they can do whatever because of that Tupelo spirit,” said Jim High, assistant director of the Tupelo Main Street program. He noted the success has been the result of individuals, corporate sponsors and the support of the city and county governments.

Other award winners

Merchant of the Year – The R.W. Reed Co., “going above and beyond is all part of the dedication and loyalty Reed's Department Store has to Downtown Tupelo.”

Best Creative Fundraising Project – CellularSouth's “Networking @ noon” luncheon series that raises money for the Main Street program.

Best Retail Program – “Co-operative TV Ad Program” that created a cost-effective way for downtown and merchants to receive television advertising.

Adaptive Re-use Award – Belinda Stewart, a Eupora architect, for the redesign of three vacant buildings next to the Pontotoc County Courthouse to make them part of county government.

Best Facade Rehabilitation over $10,000 – Bruce Forestry Museum

Best New Signage – Amory Main Street Association seasonal flags program

Click video to hear audio