City: South Street property owners ‘have done everything we’ve asked’

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The present owner of the South Street Apartments, 1201 South St., is taking steps to maintain the property and moving toward renovating the apartment complex that’s been vacant for 11 years, the city’s community development director said.

Community Development Director Jeff Richardson said property owner Skyline Innovations “has done everything we have asked them to do right off the bat. They’ve installed new fencing, boarded windows; whenever we call them about grass or repairs they get on it.”

Presently, Richardson said, Skyline is waiting on an environmental assessment of the apartment complex.

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Richardson said John K. Hunter Jr., one of Skyline’s owners, met with him before the company bought the property. Hunter later met with Richardson and Ward 1 Alderman Michael Mayfield about the building and Hunter has given the city a preliminary design of the project.

“They’re getting their ducks in a row,” Richardson said.

“We’re planning to renovate those apartments and put them back online,” Hunter told The Post Monday but declined to elaborate on the plans.

Richardson’s comments on the apartments follow a Dec. 8 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting in which Dr. Stevie Duncan, pastor of The Living Word Baptist Church, appeared before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Friday seeking the board’s help in contacting representatives of Skyline Innovations to sell the property.

Hunter has said the property is not for sale.

Duncan told the board Dec. 8 that The Living Word Community Land Trust, a nonprofit real estate arm of the church, is interested in developing the property. He said plans for the property involve tearing down the present complex and rebuilding it.

The board took no action and Mayor George Flaggs Jr. asked Duncan to send a letter detailing his request to the board.

Flaggs said Wednesday he would not get involved in the matter.

“He’s trying to get the city to intervene in the matter and I can’t do that,” Flaggs said.

Duncan said Wednesday he would be at the board’s meeting Monday.

He said the apartment complex is the centerpiece of a plan for the economic revitalization project.

“If we get that property revitalized, then that would lead to other areas of the inner city for commercial development,” he said. “The most effective way of economic revitalization is to bring the commercial piece within the landscape of your plan.

“Once you revitalize the area, you can have job creation; you create jobs within the network and you can gain a foothold in revitalizing the entire area.”

Skyline purchased the property in December 2022 from Washington Apartment Homes LLC, an affiliate of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church of Natchez, becoming the property’s fourth owner since the apartment complex was closed by the city. The church purchased the property from Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat received it as a donation from Holly Springs lawyer Kent Smith who bought the property in 2014 but was unable to refurbish the apartments and in 2016 gave the complex to Habitat with the provision that whatever happens to the property, it must enhance the city, the South Street neighborhood and the city’s downtown district.

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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