City looks to add new public housing and commercial development

During citizens comments, attorney Johnny Moore presented a potential new project, which would add new public housing and commercial development to the city at its meeting on Tuesday night. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
By: 
LOGAN KIRKLAND
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen were presented with a potential new project, which would add new public housing and commercial development to the city during its meeting on Tuesday night.

Attorney Johnny Moore addressed the aldermen during citizens comments addressing affordable housing within the city. He said the issue was brought to his attention by Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn, Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins and member of the Starkville Housing Authority Lisa Wynn.

“We really as a municipality have to field our obligation to people that are living in public housing,” Moore said.

Moore said it has been since the late 50’s, early 60’s since there has been any new public housing in Starkville. He said after seeing there hasn’t been any new developments, he worked with his law partner, Starkville Housing Authority and a realtor in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to begin their planning.

“We came up with a strategy to get new housing in Starkville without it being a significant expense to the city of Starkville,” Moore said.

Moore proposed a plan where they would build a 70,000-square-foot replica of Pecan Acres in an area approved by the Fair Housing Administration.

He said due to a confidentiality agreement, he could not provide where the new location would be. However, Moore said the new location would continue to reside in Ward 7, which would not dilute the voting districts.

Moore said the plan would be to take Pecan Acre’s previous location and put approximately $150 million worth of infrastructure and development on the property.

He said it would increase school funds by about half a million dollars as well as increase revenue sales, restaurant and property taxes.

As for the residents, Moore said the units would be built before moving the residents in. He said no one will be displaced for any period of time.

“It’s absolutely going to be a win-win for the city,” Moore said. “It’s time that these citizens receive the opportunity to live in fair, adequate housing.”

Moore told the board the reason he is just now bringing this project to the city is because there are publication requirements and he didn’t want the board to not be aware of their planning. He said another reason was due to the confidentiality agreements with their clients.

Vaughn said both he and the board continuously discuss improving the quality of life for its citizens. He said this is something that has always been a priority of his, and it could change the perspective of Ward 7.

“This would change the whole quality of life of that neighborhood over there,” Vaughn said.

Ward 2 Alderman David Little said this development could be a huge success for the city because people are continuously looking for prime locations for their businesses on Highway 12.

“Anytime that you can open up additional property on Highway 12 available for retail development is big because there is a lack of it,” Little said.

Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said he thinks this is potentially a good plan, but the “devil is in the details.” He said he would like to see this project on the agenda to have a more lengthy conversation, with more of the specifics provided.

Walker said some of his concerns involve rezoning and if there would need to be discussions with other city departments to make sure everyone is on the same page.

“There’s a lot of other details that right now, we just don’t know the answer to that because we are not familiar with the project,” Walker said.

Moore said once they consulted with the Housing Authority Field officer in Jackson, he contacted the Fair Housing Authority in Atlanta due to his excitement. The head of the Fair Housing Authority then flew to Jackson to view their plans.

“They said it was the best idea that he had ever heard in 30 years of doing housing projects.” Moore said

Moore said what makes this project unique is when dealing with housing projects, if they are liquidated, municipalities do not get to keep funds, so they go back to the federal government.

He said they are going to exchange the property, so there won’t be an exchange of funds, so the federal government doesn’t get involved.

“This will be the single largest dual project ever done in the city of Starkville,” Moore said “This will be the first time this type of project is going to be done in United States in this manner.”

Moore said he will be coming before the board again once there is more concrete information to provide.

OTHER BUSINESS

• The board approved a motion allowing companies interested in partnering with the city for an established EMS district to come to its first board meeting in May. The reason for the motion was to allow proper time to sift through interested parties, get input from OCH Regional Medical Center and to smooth out any other details.

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