Press release from John Oxford of the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency:
TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI (May 7, 2012) –The Tupelo Redevelopment Agency (“TRA”) today announced that it is joining into a partnership agreement with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Coliseum Commission, the Community Development Foundation, and the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association to fund a market analysis for a potential entertainment venue in Tupelo’s downtown Fairpark District.
“By partnering various interests and working together, we plan to accomplish the long awaited goal of bringing a successful, and more importantly feasible, entertainment venue to the Fairpark District in downtown Tupelo,” said TRA chairman, John Oxford. “This is the Tupelo Spirit at its best – individual agencies, commissions and associations coming together as one interest group to bring forth a solution, and TRA is proud to be part of this unprecedented collaborative effort.”
Since its inception, the Fairpark District has become one of Tupelo’s most successful projects, returning nearly $100 million in private investment. There is, however, still work to be done – both on the residential and commercial side. One of the major components that has yet to come to fruition is an entertainment venue.
“The Downtown Tupelo Main Street program was the originator of the vision for Fairpark and kept that vision alive until it became reality. It so exciting to see the support, cooperation and collaboration toward the last piece of the puzzle, the Entertainment District,” said Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association.
As time has passed, the success of Fairpark and the expectations of Tupelo residents have grown. With this in mind, various groups with shared interests in this project have come together to recreate the entertainment concept and bring it to life. This is not a new project but a continuation of the vision for a complete Fairpark that enhances Tupelo’s draw as a travel destination.
“We see the value of this study as it relates to the travel industry and our visitors. Our research shows that visitors to Tupelo are looking for entertainment options while here. We want to explore the feasibility of additional venues to entice guests to spend more time in Tupelo translating into another night’s stay. This could also help us promote our creative economy by giving Mississippi artists another venue in which to perform,” stated Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Through a series of meetings, the aforementioned groups have agreed to contract the services of Hunden Strategic Partners (“HSP”) to lead the planning process. HSP, http://www.hundenpartners.com, is a full service real estate development advisory practice specializing in destination assets such as convention centers, hotels, entertainment facilities, and expo centers. Rob Hunden, president of HSP, will lead the study and has visited with the group on several occasions.
"CDF is excited to be a partner in this project. This will determine and validate our market's competitiveness and financial feasibility of an entertainment venue for our community,” stated David Irwin, chairman of the Community Development Foundation.
The study will take approximately 3-to-4 months and is expected to cost approximately $84,000. After the study is reviewed and commissioned by the interested parties, the group will work together to partner with a developer to fully implement the project.
“The Coliseum Commission is very excited with the prospect of working together with other economic development groups in Tupelo in an effort to determine the best way to add value to the newly formed Tupelo Entertainment District. It was obvious after our first meeting that each of the groups involved had their own ideas of what they could do to enhance the quality of life and economic development of downtown Tupelo. By combining our efforts we limit the risk of paying for projects that overlap and we increase our chances of putting together a plan that can really make a difference. A study of this type was foreseen in the original plan for the Fairpark District which was adopted in the 1990’s and we are finally at the point in time where it can have a significant impact on how we move forward. We believe that it is the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it,” added Scott Reed, chairman of the Coliseum Commission.
The parties involved in funding the study will also share various information gathering assignments and duties which may offset some of the final cost of the study. In addition, funding allocations and participation for the study project are contingent on agreement of the boards for each organization.