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Natchez board approves funds to get downtown development group started
from Staff Reports - NEWS
August 28, 2019 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey
 
NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen allocated $5,000 Tuesday to help get a long-planned Natchez downtown development association organized more than a year after it was recommended by a group trying revitalize the city.
 
The money is to be funneled to FOR Natchez, which is forming an alliance and hire a director to coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive plan aldermen approved in May 2018 to enhance downtown Natchez’s appearance and its commercial and cultural offerings.

FOR Natchez leader Chesney Doyle has said the new downtown Natchez association would take the “Main Street Approach,” which gets downtown stakeholders to collaborate in promoting commerce, enhancing buildings and expanding the town’s overall economic base.

With a suggested annual budget of $100,000 or so, Mayor Darryl Grennell said a year ago the new downtown association should be funded by the Board of Aldermen, the Adams County Board of Supervisors and Natchez Inc., the city-county’s economic development agency.
 
However, a year later, Doyle told the board Tuesday it’s been a struggle to get the initiative moving forward without sufficient funds from the local governments. Later during the meeting, at Grennell’s request, aldermen approved allocating $5,000 for the paperwork needed to officially organize the downtown association. The money will be funneled to FOR Natchez through the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce.
 
The city board in 2018 approved FOR Natchez’ master plan conceived by a Nashville consulting group. Implementing the concepts will require money spent over time by local governments, business entrepreneurs and historic preservationists. FOR Natchez, a private group led by Doyle, spearheaded the drafting of the plan.

Representatives of a Birmingham-based retail recruitment firm met Tuesday with the mayor and aldermen to discuss it being hired to attract businesses to Natchez, but no action was taken by the board.
 
Beyond forming a downtown association, a key element of FOR Natchez’ master plan is to convert the old Broadway Street railroad depot into a dining and drinking establishment. The board is seeking proposals from private developers for the city-owned former train station on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Final proposals are to be submitted in November.

Another major vision in the city’s development plan has the U.S. Post Office on Canal Street relocated to Martin Luther King Street on the block between Main and Franklin streets. The old mail facility is considered an impediment to the bluff area’s regeneration. One concept has it being torn down and replaced by “Ellicott’s Hill Plaza and Farmers Market” in front of the historic house built there in 1798. Relocating the post office to MLK Street could help spawn economic growth for that section of town.




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