Revenue Department site debate could come to a vote

November 6, 2011

Real Estate

Should Mississippi legislators decide to build a new home for the state Department of Revenue, a state-owned parcel north of Smith-Wills Stadium on Lakeland Drive is the top-ranked site in a site-selection study performed by national real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.

The 10-acre property between the Educational Research Center along Ridgewood Road and the Mississippi School for the Blind and Deaf is part of the old asylum property owned by the state.

The site is minutes from the state Capitol campus and just a short drive from Interstate 55 and has “relatively good ingress and egress,” the study said.

With its abundant tree covering the property has the potential to provide a well landscaped setting. Further, it’s proximity to high-end residential neighborhoods should ensure future stability, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Challenges cited in the study include the cost of improving access from Lakeland Drive and could add to early morning traffic congestion along Lakeland Drive..

A site on Lakeland Drive and Ridgewood Road won a second-place ranking in the study. It’s part of a campus of state-owned buildings and, like the property north of the baseball stadium, it is a short drive to the Capitol.

Available land for expansion is limited, however, the study notes. Building there would “require a clear-cut, leaving a building in a sea of asphalt with very few trees, if any, around the perimeter,” Cushman & Wakefield said.

Like the other Lakeland Drive property, the second-choice site would add to morning traffic congestion, the study said.

What both Lakeland Drive sites have in common — and make them enticing — is close proximity to the State Data Center situated between Lakeland Drive and Eastover Drive.

The closer the revenue headquarters is to the Data Center the more speed and efficiency will be achieved in telecommunications and data transmission operations, said Kathy Waterbury, Revenue Department spokeswoman, in an interview last spring before the Cushman & Wakefield Study.

“We need to be closer to the Mother Ship. It enhances our telecommunications all around,” she said.

That’s important, Waterbury added, when you process 100,000 automobile tags a year and 900,000 vehicle titles, in addition to millions of tax returns.

Cushman & Wakefield based the study on erecting a approximately 200,000-square-foot building in the $39 million price range.

The real estate firm estimates building on the parcel north of Smith-Wills Stadium would run $43.8 million, or $209.82 a square foot.

In addition to the Lakeland Drive sites, the study looked at these state-owned parcels:

>> Mississippi State Fairgrounds;

>> Land north of Memorial Stadium;

>> Old Farmer’s Market area;

>> Sun and Sand/Barefield property downtown;

>> Hinds County Tax Parcel 429-10, a 7.3-acre site on North State Street.

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