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Clinton effort takes home economic development honor

Clinton’s planning and economic development efforts have been recognized by the Mississippi Municipal League (MML), which recently awarded it a City of Excellence award.

The city won for economic development efforts that include developing Hampstead Boulevard, which is opening up land for development off Springridge Road near Interstate 20. Awards were presented in late June at the MML’s annual conference on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Approximately three-fourths of a mile of Hampstead Boulevard have been completed. The other three-fourths of a mile would extend the road to U.S. 80 near the Wal-Mart Supercenter, and it remains to be completed. The section of the road was completed for $2.4 million and leads to the new Morrison Heights Baptist Church.

Mayor Rosemary Aultman called it “always encouraging to have your work validated by outsiders who have no connection to the city.. The award recognizes the involvement of the community into the planning process, the importance of being methodical and deliberate in carrying out a strategic plan and the economic development that has come as a result.”

Planning and results

Aultman, who submitted the city’s application, said, “I tried to capture the planning process and show the results once the plan was initiated. The fact that we’ve followed a strategic plan and the city has benefited successfully, perhaps, was the deciding factor.

“One of the most lucrative and attractive areas for a lifestyle center development in Clinton was an undeveloped area along I-20 and Springridge Road at the entrance to the city. Because of lack of access to the property, the site had remained untouched.”

She said, “Working with property owners who agreed to donate the necessary right of way and easements, the city facilitated construction of a road into the property opening 55 acres for development. A new Home Depot opened in February 2006 with an annual sales tax projection of $700,000 and an increase in property tax of $40,605. In March 2007, Morrison Heights Baptist Church opened its new $34-million facility.”


“I am bullish about Hampstead Boulevard. The infrastructure is in place making this location an attractive choice for retailers and restaurants. It has become the economic center of Clinton. In my opinion, Clinton is the crown jewel of Hinds County, and Hampstead will be the point of entry for those businesses looking to service our community,” said Clinton Alderman Tony Greer, owner of Greer Real Estate.

He said, “With commercial property in short supply, the timing is excellent for this corridor to be open. The sign is out. Your business is welcome to Clinton.”

Businessman Henry Patel bought 1.3 acres at 5010 Hampstead Boulevard before Home Depot bought its lot. “I had to work out some things before I could begin construction,” said Patel. Construction recently started on Patel’s 61-room Comfort Inn and Suites adjacent to Home Depot. “It will be finished by the end of the year,” said Patel, owner of Garfield’s in Jackson.

He is considering putting a restaurant at the site, but said, “I haven’t decided yet.”

“This was the best location. You can see the property when you come off the ramp (Springridge Road exit),” said Patel.

What’s to come?

Jim DaFoe, vice president at Ergon Properties, the developer, said he is “pleased with what’s happened and what’s to come.

“The city is being aggressive and pro business.”

He envisions a 35,000- to 40,000-square-foot strip shopping center on PruGon land. DaFoe noted that the center would take approximately five acres. It would abut Home Depot to the west.

DaFoe said PruGon also has an out parcel of land totaling two acres. “We hope we can attract the right person. An Outback Steakhouse or Cracker Barrel would work well. We’re trying to keep it upscale,” he added.

He called it “a huge benefit” to the city the work they’ve done so far in making Hampstead Boulevard a “true frontage road.”

“I think there will be projects coming this year.”

Land owner Jim Sanders, who lives in Ridgeland, said he has had “a great relationship with the city.”

“I get phone calls from people all the time about the property. You really have to have the right ingredients to make it work,” Sanders said.

He said, “Market conditions have to develop and that can’t be forced. Major national developers know that tract of land exists.”

Sanders has around 56 acres remaining for sale.

According to Aultman, there is no timetable to finish the road. She said the family, who owns property on the unfinished part of Hampstead, would have to approve completing it. Aultman noted it would also take some businesses wanting to develop in the area.

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