HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The neighborhood known as the Mid-Town District in Hattiesburg could soon see new commercial and residential development.
As Pine Belt residents drive through the mid-section of town, there is no doubt it looks a little shabby. An area that was thriving 20 years ago but is now riddled with vacant and older buildings may breathe new life if a vision of the city comes to life.
Hattiesburg city engineer Bert Kurykendall said, "What we have already is a basic infrastructure of streets, of utilities, and in a way an under performing area."
Since 2006, City and County leaders, as well as The University of Southern Mississippi, Forrest General Hospital and stake holders in the area have been working towards a master plan to enhance the quality of community and university life.
"Instead of going outside of the town, said Kurykendall, "And picking a wooded site where there is grass, woods and wildlife we want to look at our resources inside town."
Southern Miss Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Sid Gonsoulin, is a part of the leadership team for the Mid-town Hattiesburg project. He said the vision is to rehab the area in a way that no other city in the region has done.
"Between the hospital and the university there is more employees per square block than any other place in the state of Mississippi. When you have all of these employees coming to work in the mid-town area...well...how about coming to live there and work. So, we are thinking a lot of workforce housing at different levels of income will be available in the new mid-town area."
Gonsoulin said so far land and business owners are on board. They have invested $150,000 total to match a community challenge grant the city recently received from HUD. That money will bring in a team of consultants to help determine if the plan will be feasible.
Gonsoulin said, "That says a lot. They believe in this...that this is going to be really big...not only for them but the city of Hattiesburg."
The planning process will begin by the end of summer and should take about 9 to 12 months to develop a complete master plan.