Fairpark board goes forward with plan to build house

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Redevelopment Agency is moving forward with building a house in Fairpark, hoping to appease unhappy residents while also creating momentum in the downtown district.
The board members on Thursday had a work session to discuss what action would create the biggest bang for their buck in getting activity in Fairpark.
TRA is a city-created board responsible for overseeing the redevelopment of the Fairpark district.
The members, who are volunteers, discussed using the agency’s funds to build apartments, plant trees along Elizabeth Street, build a fence along Elizabeth Street or to build a house in the existing residential area.
Tony Bologna, a consultant TRA hired to help with design and development, told members at the meeting that action is needed.
“What’s happening is you are losing momentum,” he said. “You don’t want people to think nothing is happening. … You can’t become stagnant.”
The call for action came after Fairpark residents and business owners expressed their displeasure with the lack of development, especially along Elizabeth Street.
“We keep hearing from residents and business owners that they want something done with that area,” said board member Tim Prewitt. “They hate looking at it.”
The members discussed planting trees or building a fence to screen Fairpark from Elizabeth Street.
But by the end of the almost two-hour meeting, the board members reverted to their earlier plans to spearhead the construction of a house to sell.
In September, they voted to look into the possibility of building a house on an undeveloped lot in the current residential area by Midway Drive.
They moved forward with that idea this week, saying it will give them an opportunity to showcase the house quality they want to see in Fairpark.
Chairman John Oxford said TRA has a maximum of $200,000 for the project.
Members haven’t approved any plans for the house, including details such as price or square footage.
But Bologna did show them house plans from Harbor Town, a mixed-used development in Memphis that Fairpark is modeled after.
One of the houses was 20 feet wide, two stories, two bedrooms and 21/2 bathrooms. It was built on a lot that was 25 feet wide by 90 feet long.
Oxford expects the board will review house plans at its February meeting.
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@journalinc.com.