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City buying downtown properties for redevelopment

TUPELO — The city of Tupelo plans to buy three downtown properties in a $376,000 investment it hopes will result in a park or residential development.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports the properties have been magnets for crime and other problems.

One originally was the Tupelo Military Institute but city officials say it more recently has been used by homeless people and drug users.

The City Council voted this past week to buy the properties, capping months of behind-the-scenes negotiations with their owners.

“This is taking one of the most difficult places in town to raise a family and trying to do something good with it,” said Mayor Jack Reed Jr.

Only Councilman Jim Newell voted against the plan, saying the city shouldn’t spend taxpayer dollars it doesn’t have to get into the real estate business.

However, city officials said money for the purchases would come from a recently passed bond issue for capital projects, including a new neighborhood-improvement program. The program will be funded with $600,000 annually for 5 years and targets improvements in Tupelo’s older neighborhoods.

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