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FOR Natchez downtown renewal plan in final phase
from Staff Reports - NEWS
February 21, 2018 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The plan to revitalize downtown Natchez as extensively envisioned by a consulting group will take untold amounts of money in the long term spent by aggressive business entrepreneurs, innovative city government leaders and careful historic preservationists.

However, the consultants’ top priority is the quick establishment of a downtown group with a full-time executive director tasked with spearheading the implementation of comprehensive strategies to revitalize the city's core area.

Other suggested "low hanging fruits" within reach to make downtown more alive include loosening up city land-use regulations, making one-way streets two-way and resurrecting the city-owned Broadway Street railroad depot whose restoration was put on hold.

"We want to take Natchez to a new level," said Mayor Darryl Grennell. "We to bring downtown Natchez back" like it was when thriving in the 20th Century.

Grennell and other Natchez citizens on Tuesday heard what city planning consultants have come up with after a year-long process of analysis, public input and conceptualizing what can be done to rejuvenate the downtown’s commercial and residential areas. They span from the bluff’s edge on Broadway Street on the west to the Triangle area where Martin Luther King and St. Catherine streets intersect on the east.

Contracted by FOR Natchez, a private association, consultants led by Phil Walker of Nashville will finalize their recommendations and present them soon to Grennell and the Natchez Board of Aldermen.

Among the suggestions offered by the consultants for the city’s 108-year-old former train station on Broadway is to use it for public restrooms, outdoor dining or a visitors center. A raised terraced area by the depot overlooking the Mississippi River is another idea. While the board put the depot’s complete restoration on hold in 2016, it voted last week to publicly seek proposals from developers on what they could do to it.

There’s also an urgent need to save decaying historic buildings in the MLK Triangle area near Zion Chapel AME Church and the Rhythm Night Club site, according to the consultants’ report.

Other suggestions include moving the U.S. Post Office on Canal Street. It could be torn down and replaced by “Ellicott’s Hill Plaza and Farmers Market” in front of the historic house built there in 1798.

Consultants’ suggestions to induce new downtown businesses and historic restorations include property tax abatements and fast-track approval of city permits.

The Friends of Our Riverfront Natchez downtown development plan can be viewed online:

http://for-natchez.org/pdfs/Draft-Downtown-Natchez-Plan-rev2.17.18.pdf




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