GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Empty building shells overgrown with weeds. There’s enough of them scattered around downtown Gulfport to make an attractive area look blighted. Parcels of land like this do not make any city look attractive.
On Tuesday, the city council will consider expanding its “Urban Renewal Improvement District” to try to eliminate such eyesores.
One of the target areas is the Quarters in West Gulfport. That is where the Department of Labor plans to spend $30 million rebuilding the Job Corps center.
“We’re of the belief that if anybody puts $30 million in your community, that the community should respond by bringing in other development around the project,” Said Gulfport chief administrative officer John Kelly.
The expansion would more than triple the area of the program’s current zone established in 2018. The program allows for grants of $2,500 for residential property and loans of $7,500 for commercial property
The balance of the loans could be forgiven if 70 percent of the principal is paid off in two years.
“We find that sometimes, developers and homeowners are just sceptical and just need something to give them a little push,” Kelly said. “And generally, when you start incentivising programs, that’s enough to give them some kind of an urge to go on and act.”
Kelly said the original program generated a significant number of construction projects, and he expects the expanded zone to create even more.
Tuesday’s action is only the first reading of the proposal. A public hearing will be held on the proposal to get public input.