By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – An eight-unit apartment complex with boarded-up windows at Clayton Avenue and West Jackson Street remains vacant, a reminder of the property once home to drug dealers, prostitution and other mischief.
Now part of a centerpiece for the Jackson Street redevelopment project, people have joked about wanting to take the first swing on a sledgehammer when the property is demolished.
It turns out, that day may not come.
Instead of razing the property, members of the nonprofit Neighborhood Development Corporation, a group leading the city of Tupelo’s efforts to redevelopment the area, may push for the building to turn into four condominium units.
“It’ll be a monument to that neighborhood if it’s done right,” said Duke Loden, a commercial real estate agent and NDC chairman. “We’re going to make sure it’s done right.”
The group voted previously to demolish the property but started looking at costs for the project and discussed something different.
With no final decision, Loden said condos on the property could be priced in the $70,000-$80,000 price range. The redevelopment effort along West Jackson Street and adjoining streets is aimed at cleaning up blight in the area and creating more desirable middle-income housing.
The city-funded, nearly $3 million project aims to buy and demolish 17 to 21 houses in poor condition. The plan involves selling the land to developers who would build homes that sell in the $90,000 to $150,000 price range, Loden said.
Along with buying property, the project also includes landscaping and infrastructure of streets, intersections and sidewalks in the area.
The city and NDC have paid between $15,000-$25,000 for houses already sold for the project.
To help create a single vision for the redevelopment, NDC plans to hire an architecture firm by mid-October to create a master plan by the end of November.
A master plan for the redevelopment could include eliminating some driveways along Jackson Street for properties bought by the city, creating cul-de-sacs with shared entryways. Along with building new properties, the plan may include financial assistance through tax credits for existing property owners for renovations.