Apartments could allow for Petal growth

By BETH BUNCH,

A public hearing has been set for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 for the Forrest County Board of Supervisors to hear comments from the public on the supervisors obtaining approximately $4 million in TIF (tax increment financing bonds). The hearing received a unanimous vote from the board during its regular first Monday meeting.

The TIF funds would support infrastructure, such as a lift station and utilities, supporting the construction of 130-135 luxury apartments off the Byrd Parkway by York Development. The 15-acre site is located along the Byrd, between Walmart and Old Richton Road, which includes a buffer zone.

York’s representative, attorney Ron Farris, who was born and raised in Petal, told the board that the apartments, consisting of five buildings and 130-135 units, would be “the nicest in the county.” Farris compared them to the recently completed Cross Creek apartments located to the west of Turtle Creek Mall in Hattiesburg, but situated in Lamar County. He noted that while amenties would be the same, the size of the facility would not be as large.

Cross Creek’s website lists it as “stylish living in Hattiesburg” with apartment amenties including open floorplans, granite countertops, private balconies with storage, elegant crown molding, plush carpeting in bedrooms, spacious vanities, expansive walk-in closets, wood flooring and washer dryer.

Amenities through the complex community include a fitness center, cyber cafe, large pool, billiards room, rental garages, covered parking, outdoor gas fireplace/seating areas, clubroom with fireplace, media room, children’s playground and car wash area. The complex is also pet friendly.

The construction of the units, which is expected to start later in the year, would add about 300 construction jobs. “It would also put $14 to $15 million on Petal’s tax rolls,” he said. “Those funds would add a guesstimated $100,000 in city tax revenue, generating for about $137,000 for both Forrest County and the Petal School District.”

“Petal has never had such an upscale apartment complex, with the kinds of amenities these will have,” said Mayor Hal Marx. “It will provide another option for people wishing to live in our city. In turn, they will shop, eat and spend their money in our city. It will be a boost to our retailers and restaurants, plus contribute more to our sales tax base. Dr. York has a great track record with the apartments he has built in West Hattiesburg. These will be on that scale. We are pleased he chose to make such a big investment in Petal.”

Petal School District Superintendent Matt Dillon said the new apartments will cause the school district to look at enrollment a little closer and make adjustments to accomodate new students.

He said most of the district is at capacity, so the potential of new families with school age children entering the district, Petal Schools will eventually have to build a new campus.

“That was always a part of our longterm goal,” Dillon said. “However, we may have to look at speeding that process up.”

But while the money will mean tax dollars benefitting the school district, the $137,000 won’t fund facilities and other needs for an already burgeoning district.

Dillon said they will continue to look into the building time frame and other factors to see what needs to be done.

Farris said the infrastructure work would be “pretty challenging,” but the lift station would serve the whole community.

“The TIF plan has already been submitted to Forrest County chancery clerk Jimmy Havard, who will hold it until the hearing.

Farris said they were working out a wetlands issues on the back of the 15-acre site.

District 3 supervisor Burkett Ross said that while he wasn’t a big proponent of apartments, he fully supported the project. “It will help retail,” he said. “It’s a plus for us in every way. Dr. York’s track record speaks for itself.”