- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Tupelo’s city government will spend nearly $70,000 to buy five lots, hoping to spark new life in its historic Mill Village neighborhood.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/21zXz5R) reports the Tupelo City Council unanimously approved the purchase Tuesday.

The city plans to clear the lots and resell them to a private developer, hoping to attract as many as 15 new houses.

Mayor Jason Shelton described the purchase as “an opportunity to make a real difference in Mill Village.”

Another property owner plans to donate adjoining land to the city.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton says the venture won’t be as expensive as city redevelopment of West Jackson Street, where Tupelo is spending $2.9 million on new infrastructure.

“There is no plan to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money in Mill Village,” he said.

Tupelo has been trying to improve neighborhoods to help reverse a trend of middle-class families leaving or not locating in the city

Shelton and Hooper both said private developers have indicated interest in the kind of development in Mill Village city leaders hope to see occur.

The Mill Village neighborhood is recognized by the city as a historic district and all new construction in the neighborhood must meet certain requirements to ensure compatibility with existing architecture.

Michelle Shepherd, director of Northeast Mississippi Habitat for Humanity, says her group owned three of the lots, but requirements for building in a historic district made potential construction too expensive.

“It is hard for us to comply with those restraints and remain within our budget for our homeowners,” she said,

The city also agreed to purchase a lot in elsewhere from Habitat for Humanity for $21,000.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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