Natchez downtown master plan honored as Mississippi’s 2018 best planning project

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 4, 2018


NATCHEZ — The American Planning Association recently named Natchez’s downtown revitalization and economic development project the recipient of Mississippi’s 2018 Best Project and Outstanding Project Award.

The Natchez Revitalization Project, commonly referred to as the “Natchez Downtown Master Plan” that was three-years in the making consists of multiple phases that include rezoning and redesigning the bluff and the MLK Triangle area — consisting of Martin Luther King Jr., St. Catherine and Franklin streets — and creating an arts district on the block of Commerce Street between Main and Franklin streets.

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Many of the project’s key developers will be honored at an awards luncheon Oct. 11 in Oxford, where they will receive the award and give a brief speech, said awards committee chairman, Joan Wesley.

Chesney Doyle, the Executive Producer of the Downtown development plan, said the process was successfully shepherded by Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell and the board of aldermen, however the key ingredient to the project’s success is the skill and expertise of Philip “Phil” Walker of The Walker Collaborative in Nashville, who will offer a presentation of the project at next week’s luncheon in Oxford.

Doyle said she has mixed emotions in regards to Natchez receiving the award.

“It’s an enormous honor,” Doyle said. “I’m gratified — of course — and on one hand I’m surprised but on the other hand I’m not surprised because I know how much this community has invested in the project over the last three years.”

Doyle said the project began in earnest in 2015, and for the two years following that the level of community engagement grew larger than what she expected.

“Everyone should be proud,” Doyle said. “Everyone — that is our city and county governments, our community leaders and individual investors and volunteers — brought to the table their best ideas and their best efforts and now the APA has recognized the Natchez Downtown Master Plan as the best and most outstanding project in all of Mississippi in 2018.”

Doyle said elected officials, community leaders and the community at large has had a hand in implementing the project, including Adams County Supervisor James “Rickey” Gray.

“Anytime you can get an award, you must be doing something right,” Gray said. “That just goes to show you that the community needs to be on board with this project.”

Grennell said he is full of gratitude for everyone involved in the project.

“First of all, I want to say congratulations to FOR Natchez for their work in raising the funds, secondly to the Board of Aldermen for showing their support for the project and finally to the Walker group,” Grennell said. “Also to the citizens — if it wasn’t for the citizens donating to FOR Natchez and for providing the insight to (The Walker Collaborative) group this wouldn’t be happening. It’s all of these entities that did the work.”