The Jackson Redevelopment Authority agreed Wednesday to cover a demand from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for repayment of $1.5 million HUD invested in downtown’s dead Farish Street project.
The City of Jackson had agreed to repay the money over three years starting in December 2016. But that could have left in place a suspension HUD put on the Jackson Redevelopment Authority for violations that occurred during the 16-year effort to convert Farish Street into an entertainment district.
The JRA board will ask HUD for 30 days to meet conditions set in a Sept. 7 “monitoring” letter in which the agency outlined a list of policy violations by the JRA and the City of Jackson. The Sept. 7 letter had set a 30-day deadline for compliance with a host of conditions HUD said must be met.
JRA Chairwoman Jennifer Johnson said the Redevelopment Authority has the money to cover the HUD repayment but must look over its budget to see specifically where it can draw the funds from. The board agreed to pay the money but must vote either in a special meeting or at next month’s regular meeting to officially approve the repayment.
Paying the money “would free us up” to resume work on redevelopment projects throughout the city that involve HUD money, Johnson said.
HUD provided the $1.5 million at the start of the Farish Street redevelopment to cover the costs of buying 17 storefront parcels spanning three blocks. The City failed, however, to make the JRA an eligible sub-grantee for the money, thus forcing HUD to demand the repayment.
“Simply returning the funds is making the taxpayers whole,” Johnson said.
The Farish Street project has been dead since the JRA terminated a 45-year-lease agreement with Watkins Development and its Farish Street Group affiliate last October.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info