TIF plan approved for new apartment complex

By BETH BUNCH,

No opposition was heard by the Forrest County Board of Supervisors during a public hearing Monday in regard to the board obtaining up to $4 million in TIF (tax increment financing).

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

Board President David Hogan said they would lean on District 4’s Burkett Ross, whose district covers Petal.

“My main concern was the Petal School District, our greatest asset and biggest employer,” Ross said. “There were some reservations, but we give our blessings for this project. This is a big step forward for the city.”

A motion was made by District 3 supervisor Rod Woullard and seconded by Ross. The vote was unanimous.

Dr. Bennett York, who was in attendance at the meeting, said he appreciated the consideration of the county.

York’s representative, attorney Ron Farris, who was born and raised in Petal, said he had received no calls expressing opposition to the  the proposed TIF funds since he presented  to the board on Aug. 8.

The Petal Board of Aldermen had previously unanimously approved the TIF proposal.

The amount of funding will depend on where the math  comes in for infrastructure such as utilities, drainage, curbs, roadwork,etc., but is expected to run a little more than $3M.

Farris said the infrastructure work would be “pretty challenging,” but he believes they can lower some of the infrastructure costs. “We are prepared and committed to pay for whatever we need to,” Farris said.

Petal has agreed to take charge of a new lift station, which would serve the whole community, in addition to the new construction.

Farris told the board that the revenue stream for the parcel of property was valued low because it was considered agricultural. He also noted that if the project received enough tax revenue from the city that the county could drop off the financing. “The city and county don’t have to be committed to the same terms,” he said.

The amount of funding won’t be determined until after the project has been completed and been put assessed and put on the tax rolls to determine a revenue stream. Therefore, it may be two to three years before the bonds are let.

York said once construction is started, hopefully later in the year, he expects completion in 12 months. He told board members that a general contractor had not yet been chosen.

Farris said the $15 million project would be one of the largest development projects in the county.

The apartments, with a name yet to be determined, will consist of five buildings and 130-135 units, and will be “the nicest in the county,” according to Farris, who 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 amenities would be the same, the size of the facility would not be as large.

“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.”

Cross Creek’s website lists the complex as “stylish living in Hattiesburg” with apartment amenities 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,” Farris 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. This will yield some significant income to the city.”