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Mayor envisions 100 new houses for MLK and St. Catherine streets

NATCHEZ — Mayor Butch Brown said Tuesday the city is working on a deal to get 100 new houses in the area of St. Catherine and Martin Luther King Jr. streets.

Brown told the Natchez Board of Aldermen at its finance meeting that one of his campaign promises was to beautify Martin Luther King Jr. Street and said he intended to keep that promise.

Brown said part of the city’s work with Chartre Consulting to develop 100 scattered site housing units is to identify city- and state-owned lots that can be given to the company to develop. Chartre also built the Stonehurst housing development, renamed Old Bridge Place, at the corner of St. Catherine and Rembert streets.

Ward 2 Alderman Ricky Gray expressed concern that Habitat for Humanity could be losing potential lots to build houses if those lots are given to a company to develop. Gray also said that he did not want to see the lots go to a company that would set rent too high for Ward 2 residents to afford

Brown said the city would still have plenty of space for Habitat to develop housing. He said similar to Habitat house residents, residents of the scattered site housing will be able to buy their house through a lease purchase program.

The houses, Brown said, would be valued at approximately $50,000, meaning residents would pay approximately $277 each month to pay off their house through the 15-year lease-purchase program.

Brown said the city is looking into whether Habitat can parter with Chartre to develop housing.

“Habitat is going to build a house a year…we’re going to build 100 houses in a year,” he said.

Ward 4 Alderman Tony Fields said his problem with the Stonehurst development is that it is too compact.

“I still have a problem with all those people in the same place stacked on top of each other,” he said.

Brown said the scattered site housing development concept was created because the city told Chartre representatives it would not support more concentrated housing projects.

“We told them we only want scattered housing,” he said.

Scattered site housing, Brown said, would give residents an opportunity to have pride in owning a house, not just renting an apartment.

“These are quality products, not ghetto-style housing,” he said.

Guidelines for Chartre’s housing, Brown said, also outline a zero-tolerance policy for criminal behavior.

“They tell us one strike, and you’re out,” he said.

The housing will give the city a chance to clean up the city, put property back on the tax roll and improve residents’ quality of life, Brown said.

“As long as it doesn’t affect Habitat,” Gray said.

The work Habitat has done in his ward has really made a positive difference for residents, Gray said.

The scattered site housing will be located in a health care zone the city is working to establish under the Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act.

The act, which went into effect last July, aims to promote the growth of the health care industry in Mississippi and provides a range of incentives for health care development in the designated zones.

Housing developers would also be eligible to receive additional points on their housing tax credit program applications if they developed in a health care zone.