New MLK houses soon to be under construction

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

NATCHEZ — Construction should soon start on 24 new affordable houses for the Martin Luther King Jr. and St. Catherine streets area.

The single-family houses are being developed by Chartre Consulting, which built Old Bridge Place, formerly named Stonehurst Arms, at the corner of St. Catherine and Rembert streets.

City Planner Frankie Legaux said plans include nine houses near the Forks of the Road site between Concord Avenue and O’Ferrall Street, six on St. Catherine Street near the Natchez Housing Authority building and nine near Cathedral School that front Martin Luther King Jr. and Oak streets.

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After concerns from city officials and historic preservationists about the development of housing on the Forks site, once home to the second-largest slave market site in the county, Chartre agreed to donate a portion of the Forks site to the National Park Service.

Chartre received approval for the houses from the Natchez Planning Commission earlier this month, though the commission was split on its decision.

Commissioners voiced concerns about unfinished plans, but a majority ultimately voted to approve the plans.

The board of aldermen voted to rezone the Forks site to allow the housing in October.

Community Development Director James Johnston said construction should begin soon after Chartre addresses the concerns of the planning commission and submits a revised site plan.

The houses, which will cost approximately $175,000 each, are being partially financed by Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The houses would be leased to occupants, who would be able to eventually purchase their houses.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses will be 1,450 square feet.

The houses will include appliances such as a washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher, nine-foot vaulted ceilings, 15-year lawn mainteance and other features.

Efforts to reach David Kelly with Chartre Consulting Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The city’s push for the housing is part of one Mayor Butch Brown’s legacy projects for the upcoming 2016 Tricentennial celebration.

Brown has pledged to have 100 new houses built in the St. Catherine and Martin Luther King Jr. streets area. Brown has also vowed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Street in Natchez the “most beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. Street in America.”