Condo developer seeks agreement extension, citing Vicksburg housing market among issues

Published 5:03 pm Monday, October 18, 2021

Citing problems with materials, costs and the Vicksburg housing market, the manager of a company proposing to build condominiums on Washington and Mulberry streets wants an extension of its agreement with the city.

According to an Oct. 15 letter to the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Steve Bryan, manager of Ridgeland-based MidSouth Companies LLC, wants a one-year extension to December 2022 to begin work on the projects.

The board in February approved a resolution declaring the Washington Street Park property and the property adjacent to the Vicksburg Convention Center as surplus property and set a closing date. In August, it granted an extension on the closing until January 2022.

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he would wait until January before making a decision on whether to grant the second extension. Aldermen Alex Monsour and Michael Mayfield said they hold different opinions on the agreement.

Bryant’s company proposes to build condominiums on the Washington Street Park property and on property on Mulberry Street by the Vicksburg Convention Center.

The sales agreement was made under a provision in state law that lets the board determine that the investment, potential revenue, payroll, increased population and increased “foot traffic” in the downtown area and blight elimination is “fair and valuable consideration” for conveying the land.

At the time, MidSouth indicated it was considering a $10 million to $11 million investment to build condominiums on the two pieces of property in Vicksburg’s downtown district that would bring in an estimated $157,000 annually in property taxes as well as an estimated $5 million in payroll, construction material purchases and sales tax.

However, problems with the availability and cost of supplies coupled with changes in the housing market, Bryan said, have forced him to reconsider the project.

“As I have completed bidding costs and analyzing the market feasibility, I have reached the unfortunate conclusion that the projects contemplated in the agreement cannot be completed in the current environment at a price point that can be supported by the Vicksburg market,” Bryan wrote.

Saying he has so far spent about $400,000 on both projects, “The last thing I want to do at this juncture is to discontinue the projects but I do not want to commence projects in a climate that makes it impossible to complete them in a manner that makes sense for the city, its citizens and me at the level of quality that you rightfully expect and that I demand of myself.”

Bryan said he wanted more time “to see if the supply side stabilizes and the projects again become feasible,” adding “termination at this stage does not seem to be in the best interest of any parties.”

If the city would agree to “maintain the status quo through the end of next year,” he wrote, “It will provide the opportunity to see if we can still make the fruits of all our collective efforts a reality for the benefit of downtown Vicksburg.”

Monsour said the city should terminate the agreement.

“I just think if they want to come back and do it, I don’t see why we should hold it open for a year. They’ll just have to come back and talk to us then,” he said. “I think that’s the appropriate thing to do.”

He said Bryan’s request caught him off guard because he thought MidSouth had performed its due diligence.

“That’s a long time, to hold something for a year for someone,” Monsour said. “They might or they might not; I think if they want to do something we revisit it a year from now.”

“My understanding is that he is trying to get extra time to decide on what avenue to take,” Mayfield said. “He has already spent $400,000 at this point and he’s trying to see what can happen from here. I have no problem allowing him the extra time.

“In my opinion, I think that it is the fair thing to do. We’ll let time tell us what to do from there.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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