Mayor: Citywide neighborhood revitalization plan coming

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Tupelo StockBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – As a nearly $3 million neighborhood redevelopment plan continues to evolve, Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton says the public can expect a citywide plan for revitalizing neighborhoods through tax incentives.

City Council members and Shelton will receive a closed-door update today on the West Jackson Street area redevelopment efforts, a project funded with city money but led by the nonprofit Neighborhood Development Corporation. It likely will involve aquiring 20 or more blighted properties in phases instead of purchasing them all together as first planned, and then encouraging developers to build desirable housing for middle-income residents.

The West Jackson area redevelopment plan was funded in 2012 under former Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s administration as an effort to turn an area with high crime and blighted property into a desirable option for middle-income families and professionals to purchase houses in the city.

However, residents in other Tupelo neighborhoods also can expect city encouragement to improve their properties, just not on the scale of the West Jackson Street project.

Shelton said the city can’t afford widespread property acquisition for redevelopment. Instead, he supports providing homeowners in neighborhoods such as Lee Acres, Willis Heights and Audubon with tax incentives and abatements for property improvements.

“We can do it through incentives and tax abatements almost anywhere in the city,” he said.

Shelton won’t say when to expect specifics for this plan, but he said he understands the sense of urgency and continues consider it as the city faces other financial decisions such as long-term capital improvements.

The 2010 Census showed Tupelo’s population with little growth while neighboring suburbs grew substantially in population.

“Yesterday is not fast enough,” he said. “It’s critical that we come up with a plan to address this citywide issue.”

His mayoral platform included attracting and retaining young families and middle-income residents in the city. He includes addressing residential neighborhoods that have shown signs of decline in his effort to increase quality of life in Tupelo.

“We’ve got to do more to be competitive, from neighborhoods to entertainment to retail shopping,” he said.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com