Downtown offers land for the taking

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; With a hot housing market in the city &8212; not to mention developments already under way and growing on the edges of the city and in the county, the innovative developer may see opportunities not noticeable to the average passerby.

Looking for small parcels of vacant land and considering removal of commercial buildings in certain parts of town are worth considering, said Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation.

Off Canal Street in the Briel Avenue and South Wall Street Extension area are wide expanses of land appropriate for residential development, Miller said.

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At the other end of Canal Street, &8220;all the neighborhood around The Democrat building is good for residential development.

And across Monroe Street from The Democrat is the old Herold and Miller building and warehouse. &8220;That is three-fourths of a block that could be used for residential development,&8221; Miller said.

&8220;And if Southwest Distributors, Blankenstein and Waste Management were to move, that land would be great for residences.&8221;

Miller said when developers build new residential areas, commercial ventures follow. &8220;The residences create new markets, and the shops open to serve them.&8221;

A drive around town to neighborhoods closest to the historic downtown commercial district reveals numerous vacant lots. Realtor Rena Jean Schmieg pointed out such places on a recent drive as far north as Elm Street and as far south as Highland Boulevard.

As a real estate agent, Schmieg receives numerous calls daily about small houses in the downtown area. &8220;Ten out of 25 people want a little one-story cottage downtown and under $200,000,&8221; she said. &8220;And there are places where they could be built.&8221;

Schmieg said an idea floating around is to move the downtown post office to the old Nosser City Shopping Center between Franklin and St. Catherine streets to free that space for residential or small businesses.

&8220;There is land that is not well used,&8221; she said, pointing to a large tract in the north part of town. &8220;It would take serious, good development, but it could be done.&8221;

A large area behind Braden School and between Braden and Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, formerly playgrounds and ball fields when those buildings were used as schools, also is prime property for residential development, Schmieg said.

Peter Dale, whose work in real estate is primarily land rather than houses or buildings, has noted the tempo in house sales among his colleagues.

&8220;I even had a realtor call me to ask if I&8217;d sell my house,&8221; Dale said. &8220;This is a great time to sell your house but not if you want to turn around and buy in the same market.&8221;

Some agents are asking clients to point out the kinds of houses they like. &8220;They are knocking on doors &8212; just like the call to me,&8221; he said.