City OKs option on land for possible $40 million retail development — largest in decades for region, mayor says

Published 6:18 am Friday, February 9, 2024

After a brief executive session, the Natchez Board of Aldermen voted to grant an option on the purchase of 29.9 acres of city-owned property located next to Walmart on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

The vote was unanimous. State laws allow governmental bodies to enter into closed session for the discussion of the sale of real estate.

Horne Properties, based in Knoxville, Tenn., will have the exclusive rights to purchase the property for one year. 

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“Horne Properties is a seasoned investment and development company with 42 years in business,” said Mayor Dan Gibson said. “Horne has developed 140 shopping centers in 28 states.”

Gibson said Horne plans to develop a $40 million retail facility in Natchez that will eventually lead to the creation of 300 jobs.

“It will be the most substantial retail development not only in Natchez but also Southwest Mississippi in several decades,” Gibson said.

He refused to discuss the purchase price of the property or what Horne is paying for the option on the real estate.

“The purchase of the option is how this begins. We are actively working with this developer,” he said.

Sue Stedman of Crye-Leike Stedman Ulmer Realty in Natchez is representing the city’s interests in the transaction.

The property came to be owned by the city after a series of state and national transactions. It was originally property of the Natchez Trace Parkway, said Kathleen Bond, superintendent of the Natchez National Historic Park.

The Natchez National Historic Park and the Mississippi Department of Archives and history, as well as the city’s coffers, will benefit from the sale of the property.

In 2013, federal legislation transferred the 29.9 acres of property to the ownership of the State of Mississippi. In 2015, state legislation transferred the property to the City of Natchez, stipulating that if ever sold, a third of the proceeds would be used to benefit the Historic Natchez Riverfront, a third would go to the National Parks Service for infrastructure and capital project within Adams County and a third would go to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for use on infrastructure and capital projects within Adams County.

Doug Horne, president of Horne Properties, was not available at press time for comment. No information was provided at the meeting as to possible anchors for the planned Natchez retail development.