From the Ground Up

by

Published: April 20,1998

In front of me I have what I consider to be one of the best neighborhood revitalization plans I’ve ever seen. If you would like a copy of its summary version go directly to the end of this column. Otherwise, read on.

Here’s an outline of what’s contained in this plan:

• an identification of the geographic boundaries of the neighborhood;

• the goals of the organization;

• copies of the basic terms and conditions on which local lenders will make loans in the neighborhood; demographic facts about the area;

• photos of properties for sale; a three-year budget;

• by-laws and names of board of directors; articles of incorporation;

• lists of organizations with whom cooperative agreements have been signed;

• copies of newspaper articles about the area; and

• copy of the neighborhood conservation plan.

If you are interested in neighborhood revitalization and community development, the above outline provides an excellent guide to some of the things you will need to do.

The neighborhood organization in this case is the Fondren Renaissance Renewal (FRR), a “…newly-formed 501(c)3, non-profit organization for the sole purpose of Housing and Neighborhood Renewal of the Fondren area.” Its located in north Jackson, Mississippi near the University Medical Center complex. The reason that I’m so impressed with the plan and the organization is that there appears to be a realization by FRR that in order to revitalize a neighborhood someone must control the real estate.

A neighborhood goes through several stages. There is a growth stage, where values are rising, a stability stage, where values level off and a decline stage, where values are falling. Then comes either a revitalization stage, which is actually another growth stage, or the stage of total neglect. One of the best ways to determine the stage of a neighborhood is to check the home ownership occupancy rate. In the growth stage it is very high, while in the neglect stage it is very low. In other words, generally when an increasing number of houses go from owner-occupied to tenant-occupied the property values will decrease.

When the neighborhood enters the period of decline it will continue unless the home ownership occupancy rate starts back upwards again. FRR is an example of a direct effort at changing the home ownership rate.

It works with local real estate agents to market the homes in the area and is even a source of information about available properties and neighborhood amenities. FRR even has an office in the neighborhood.

Some neighborhood organizations flounder because they don’t understand what to do.

They have neighborhood cleanup campaigns, parades and lots of community activities. Those are good things to do, but there is one important thing to remember — if your neighborhood begins to decline, control the real estate.

For more information about Fondren North Renaissance, contact Anne Robertson, Executive Director, P.O. Box 55566, Jackson, MS 39236 telephone (601) 362-1492.

Phil Hardwick’s column on Mississippi business appears every other week in the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is hardwickp@aol.com.


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