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MDA denies developer more time, other considerations on Renaissance

By JACK WEATHERLY

As reported earlier, the Mississippi Development Authority gave developer Andrew Mattiace four more years to build the $96.7 million expansion of the Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland.

But the developers subsequently asked for more time and other considerations.

Refusal to grant the four-year extension would have posed a major obstacle to the expansion, which already had been ensured of a sales tax rebate of nearly $30 million.

Agency Executive Director Glenn McCullough told the developer in a Feb. 19 letter that he considers the other requests “substantial and material change(s) in scope from the approved, original application” that “(exceed) the agency’s authority.”

In the letter, McCullough outlined the requests as follows:

» Authority to make changes in the investment in the project.

» Authority to buy certain parcels of land and sell them to third parties.

» Permission to enter in to lease agreements for those parcels.

» Shifting of some of the incentive payments into an escrow account for “the benefit of the City of Ridgeland.”

» Possibly extending the time to complete the project beyond the previously granted extension to June 10, 2020 for reasons including litigation.

While denying those requests, McCullough wrote that “the original certificate, including the extension that was approved by MDA on January 11, 2016, remains valid and in effect.”

A message left for Mattiace by the Mississippi Business Journal was not returned.

The MDA refuses to release the request from Mattiace, saying that would violate the terms of an order previously handed down by Hinds County Judge William Singletary sealing records of the deal to protect proprietary interests of the developers.

So only the generalized references made by McCullough have been made public, the result of a request by the Journal under the state Open Records Act.

The 30 percent rebate of sales taxes was granted through a now-defunct state program.

The Renaissance plan has been under fire since it surfaced last year. Nine homeowners have sued the city of Ridgeland for actions it took to make the project to happen. The plaintiffs contend that the  Board of Aldermen surreptitiously approved changes in the zoning code to allow the building of a Costco Wholesale store in the third phase.

No trial date has been set by Madison County Circuit Court Judge Steven Ratcliff.

The homeowners contend that because Mattiace did not own the 45 acres on which the third phase of the Renaissance at Colony Park would  be built the Board of Alderman’s vote in support of it invalidates the application for the rebate.

The request from the developers listed the address of the property as 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, which is the location of the existing Renaissance mall.

The plaintiffs and many more who live in west Ridgeland contend that the store would increase traffic in the vicinity and devalue the value of houses in the area, many of which are upscale.

The Renaissance expansion qualified under state law as a “cultural retail attraction,” which “combines destination shopping with cultural or historical interpretive elements specific to Mississippi” with a private investment of at least $50 million and is part of a master-planned development with total investment of at least $100 million and has a minimum of 50 retail tenants and 300,000 square feet under roof.

Mattiace said the third phase would be built simultaneously with the second phase on the north side of Renaissance, which would include a major water feature and a boutique hotel. That phase would not be part of the MDA incentive plan.

The Legislature repealed the law in 2015, giving those who had qualified for the rebate until July 1, 2016 to complete work on the projects.

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