CLINTON — Progressing ahead of schedule, the Clinton Parkway should be open this summer, paving the way for increased commercial growth on both ends of the north-south corridor.
“We anticipate a June opening,” said Clinton Mayor Rosemary Aultman. “The bridge is substantially complete with brick work complete on the supporting arches. Currently, brick is being laid in the median of the bridge. The landscaped portions of the medians are being prepared for plantings. However, both the northern and southern terminus of the roadway have significant work remaining.”
When the parkway opens, traffic will flow through the city, providing a safe, direct route from north to south, Aultman said.
“It will take pass-through traffic off the streets in Olde Towne and make it a destination area,” she said. “The intersections at College Street and Main Street will have brick cross walks which will help identify the entrance to the Olde Towne historical area. Because of no direct route through the city, many residential streets have become major traffic arteries. The parkway should help alleviate the situation. And it is going to be a beautiful entrance into and through Clinton.”
An engineering study for roadway and intersections improvements on Northside Drive from the city limits on the east to the city limits on the west should be completed by early summer, Aultman said.
“Because of the direct access to the Northside Drive area, we are seeing heightened interest in development on the north side of Clinton,” she said. “North of the bridge, adjacent land along the Clinton Parkway offers the opportunity for commercial development. Currently, there are several projects in the planning stages.”
Tony Greer, commercial real estate broker and owner of Greer Real Estate of Clinton, called the parkway “the most significant infrastructure improvement the city has made in 30 years.”
“Not only will the Clinton Parkway make north-south access through Clinton easier, it will open up an entire access from Highway 18 to Highway 49 and will bring people through Clinton who will stop for lunch, shop and spend money in our city,” he said.
A resurgence of commercial growth is expected along the north end of the parkway, particularly Northside Drive and Pinehaven Road, Greer said.
“The mayor and board of alderman have voted to widen Northside Drive, which the north-south corridor empties into, along with Pinehaven,” he said. “At about that point, the Natchez Trace crosses, so there will be a significant increase in traffic in that area.”
Greer recently converted a convenience store into office space at the intersection of Northside Drive and Old Vicksburg Road, in anticipation of increased traffic — and land values.
“Property values on this side of town have not been speculated up like they have on Highway 80 or Springridge Road,” Greer said.
Jim Powell, economic development consultant for the City of Clinton, said land values have increased along the southern part of the Clinton Parkway.
The Clinton Community Development Foundation is raising money to build a civic center on a six-acre tract, located a quarter mile south of Northside Drive, west of the parkway, Powell said.
The actual distance of the Clinton Parkway is a little over a mile and much of it is privately owned, said Dianne Newman, executive director of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce.
“Because a lot of the land is residential, development will probably be a slower process than you might think,” Newman said. “However, it’s logical that we’ll first see commercial development on Northside.”
Other projects prompted by the advent of the Clinton Parkway include:
• Construction of the 54,400-square-foot Hammett’s Crossing shopping center and four out parcels, located adjacent to the Wal-Mart SuperCenter on U.S. 80. “Using CDBG funds, the City of Clinton constructed approximately 500 feet of roadway for the project. An engineering study for preliminary design of a frontage road, which would adjoin the newly constructed roadway at Hammett’s Crossing and run south along the northeast quadrant of I-20 and connect to Broadway Drive at Springridge Road, is underway,” Aultman said.
• The development of a 20-acre site at the corner of Springridge Road and Broadway Drive by Andrew Mattiace. Located behind Burger King, construction is scheduled to begin in early spring. “Two streets will feed off Broadway Drive and will be the western-most segment of the new frontage road,” Aultman said.
• The development of an approximate 62-acre commercial site south of I-20 by Nolan Palmer. Located on Johnson Center Drive near the Holiday Inn Express, the thoroughfare will be extended eastward and southward to form a loop road, which will connect back into Springridge Road, Aultman said.
• Approval for construction of Ramada Limited, to begin in early summer. Even though approval has been granted by the city for a health care facility and an upscale apartment complex, construction has not yet begun.
• The construction of a visitor’s center, located near the Natchez Trace. The City of Clinton received a grant for future development and construction of the visitor’s center may begin next year, Newman said.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com or (601) 853-3967.