EDITORIAL: Housing unfolds

Housing in the Fairpark District – Tupelo's downtown redevelopment project – doesn't merely finish out a blueprint, it brings the idea to completion.

Seventy residential lots or units in Fairpark could bring hundreds of new residents to downtown – a trend Tupelo hasn't seen since before World War II.

Fairpark's planners envisioned a thoroughly mixed-used development: governmental, commercial, retail and residential. The unfolding construction in Fairpark reflects those goals.

Housing is the knot that will ensure Fairpark's longevity because people will stand up for their neighborhoods, while institutional buildings reflect only the transient interests of workday occupants.

Residents in Fairpark's emerging town houses, condos and free-standing residences will provide the sense of personality and place every neighborhood needs to survive and thrive.

Fairpark, like downtown neighborhoods in many other cities, breaks out of the molds of convention. Large lawns and houses centered in large lots won't be found in Fairpark. The rule is compactness, intense landscaping, and maximum use of available land. It flies in the face of Tupelo's growth since the end of World War II, but it is necessary to keep and attract the maximum number of homeowners inside the city limits.

People who want large lots with huge, time-consuming lawns can still find them, but they won't be part of Fairpark.

Henry Turley, the executive marketing consultant for Fairpark, developed Harbortown in Memphis – precisely the kind of neighborhood envisioned for Fairpark and downtown Tupelo.

The neighborhood on the south end of Mud Island has banks, restaurants, shops, even a school for the hundreds of people whose investment was in a complete place as much as a single-family home.

Does Fairpark compete with other neighborhoods in Tupelo? In some ways it's inarguable, but it is designed for people who want what it offers, and nothing more.

Once the Fairpark housing is complete the need for additional housing will spill over into other parts of downtown. Tommy Morgan's redevelopment of the former City-County Building as luxury apartments already reaches beyond Fairpark's precise boundary to the south part of downtown along the BNSF Railroad.

The day when people built sweeping, elegant homes with large porches in downtown probably won't return to Tupelo or many other cities. The concept is too expensive and the market too narrow.

Fairpark defined a market of housing for people either beginning or transitioning to new phases, and so far the plan is unfolding as hoped.

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