Summit focuses on affordable housing in Tupelo

Builder Rob Harness of Tupelo discusses some problems that builders face in Tupelo and with the market in general. (Thomas Wells)

Builder Rob Harness of Tupelo discusses some problems that builders face in Tupelo and with the market in general. (Thomas Wells)

By Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo developers, real estate agents and contractors discussed the current housing situation in the city during a housing summit led by Mayor Jason Shelton.

The gathering served as part of the mayor’s effort to find ways to create affordable housing in the city. During Shelton’s campaign for office earlier this year, he focused on finding ways to attract and retain young, middle-class residents to Tupelo.

Shelton said he considered Thursday’s summit the beginning of a longer conversation to find ways to spur residential development.

“I want to learn from you,” Shelton told the crowd of professionals in the housing sector. “I need you to tell me what needs to be done.”

Responses included everything from bringing more jobs to the region to lowering costs on permits and other expenses related to building houses.

The 2010 Census showed little growth in Tupelo’s population, while northern Lee County suburbs experienced significant increases.

Tommy Morgan, owner of real estate and development companies in Northeast Mississippi, said the main factor for people choosing areas outside Tupelo is price. Fewer regulations and building codes outside of Tupelo lead to houses built for less cost.

“It’s just a cost issue when they can go to the county and get an equal or better product,” Morgan said.

However, not everyone at the City Hall meeting agreed property built outside of the city has the same standards as housing in Tupelo. But, most seemed to agree that housing costs are lower outside of Tupelo.

Rob Harness, who builds mid- to upper-income homes, said he has noticed a drop in demand for housing built in the area, a problem that impacts the construction sector in the area and can impact the local economy.

“One thing we’ve noticed is a diminished demand,” he said. “It’s a challenge these days.”

The housing conversation comes on the heels of the City Council planning a vote on the updated development code, a result of the city’s updated comprehensive plan that set goals of simplifying city codes and ordinances. Pat Falkner, the city’s planner, said builders will have more flexibility when the new code is passed.

Shelton told the group that tweaks to make codes friendlier toward developers can still happen after the council passes it.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com

  • DoubleTalk

    I would offer this meeting offered little for the real problem. Mr Morgan has apparently done a turnaround from his previous views and admitted that what you can have price wise out of Tupelo is more attractive than what you can have inside Tupelo.

    While the meeting seemed to focus on how builders can make more money, it neglects the fact that many do not wish to live inside Tupelo at any cost because of overbearing rules, policies, controls etc that burden the property owners, their children and general enjoyment of life or their investment.

    Additional taxes, fees, permission to do this or that don’t help. The you buy it and we will tell you what you can and can’t do attitude is detrimental. All these neighborhood groups, reporting on neighbors, etc doesn’t make one wish to make an investment in an area where everyone in his brother will be telling you how to enjoy your investment.

    Tupelo did fine before all these control freaks started these things. It has gone down hill since they began. I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to invest in those conditions. You never know if the City will change its mind and allow whatever to be built beside you.

    Let things take their normal course. It will eventually correct itself.

  • DoubleTalk

    I would offer this meeting offered little for the real problem. Mr Morgan has apparently done a turnaround from his previous views and admitted that what you can have price wise out of Tupelo is more attractive than what you can have inside Tupelo.

    While the meeting seemed to focus on how builders can make more money, it neglects the fact that many do not wish to live inside Tupelo at any cost because of overbearing rules, policies, controls etc that burden the property owners, their children and general enjoyment of life or their investment.

    Additional taxes, fees, permission to do this or that don’t help. The you buy it and we will tell you what you can and can’t do attitude is detrimental. All these neighborhood groups, reporting on neighbors, etc doesn’t make one wish to make an investment in an area where everyone in his brother will be telling you how to enjoy your investment.

    Tupelo did fine before all these control freaks started these things. It has gone down hill since they began. I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to invest in those conditions. You never know if the City will change its mind and allow whatever to be built beside you.

    Let things take their normal course. It will eventually correct itself.

  • GulfCoastGal

    As someone who is investigating the Tupelo area due to a potential move, the ONLY reason I would not live in the city is because of the school’s test scores. Fix that and you would not have a housing issue.

  • GulfCoastGal

    As someone who is investigating the Tupelo area due to a potential move, the ONLY reason I would not live in the city is because of the school’s test scores. Fix that and you would not have a housing issue.

  • GulfCoastGal

    As someone who is investigating the Tupelo area due to a potential move, the ONLY reason I would not live in the city is because of the school’s test scores. Fix that and you would not have a housing issue.

  • GulfCoastGal

    As someone who is investigating the Tupelo area due to a potential move, the ONLY reason I would not live in the city is because of the school’s test scores. Fix that and you would not have a housing issue.