Possibilities are still open regarding development on the vacant plot of land between Subway and BancorpSouth on Central Avenue in Petal, as the owners of that property plan to soon visit the Petal Board of Aldermen to discuss options for the site.
Keith Payne, whose family owns the 8-acre parcel, said although plans temporarily stalled because of personal family issues, the land will certainly be developed in the future. While those plans are not set in stone quite yet, Payne had previously put forth the the idea of a zero lot line subdivision at a March 2020 meeting of the board of aldermen.
“Obviously, we would love to have something down there - some type of development would really fit in good with some of the other areas there,” Mayor Tony Ducker said. “I would love to have something that’s a showplace there of sorts, but obviously you’ve got to have a lot of private money to come in and do that."
Payne’s idea of a zero lot line subdivision would contain structures that come up to - or very near - the property line, such as rowhouses, garden homes, patio homes and townhomes. During his meeting with the board, Payne mentioned a proposal that would offer a minimum of 1,400 square feet each, with a garden home design.
Payne said he had been in talks with Walmart to develop on the site, but officials from that organization backed out of that idea.
“It’s infrastructured for 276 units now, but if it’s zero lot line townhouses, it’s only going to be maybe 20 or 30 houses in there instead of apartments,” he told the board. “It would be kind of a close-knit subdivision there, and then in front I was going to put commercial businesses. I’m kind of mirroring it off of some zero lot line houses in Canebrake, and there’s some in Oak Grove.
"In the front, people would be able to walk, and you’d pull your car in back. And then we’d try to get something up front for commercial, pretty close to the grocery stores. I did have a big grocery chain also wanting to come there, and they actually did come here, but they didn’t go into that location.”
For his part, Ducker would like to see something along the lines of a new car dealership go in the location.
“I think it would stir up the market for the (nearby) used car dealership, so it would be a benefit to everybody, and I’d like to reach out to those folks,” he said. “Obviously, (my business) has been in downtown for the last 20 years, so it’s kind of a hidden gem, I think.
“There’s still a lot of people downtown, there’s still a lot of traffic downtown, and you can get reasonably-priced land. So that’s a plus for the area, and we would like to see it grow and have more shopping opportunities, and living space opportunities for the residents downtown.”
Hal Marx, who was mayor at the time of Payne’s 2020 proposal, said he would love to see Petal get a project similar to the District at Midtown in Hattiesburg. That mixed-use development, which is located across from the University of Southern Mississippi, offers retail, restaurant and living units.
“They have those shops there, and you could even do a mixture of some housing or whatever there,” Marx told Payne. “That’d be great, but of course it’s your property, and you’ve got to do what you think you’ve got to do.
“We just need to make sure it’s going to be something that’s beneficial to the city, because it is in the heart of downtown.”
Ward 6 Alderman Craig Bullock told Payne he also would like to see development at that site, as long as it fit with the neighborhood and the city.
“Certainly, we can’t guarantee you here that you would just have a blank slate to kind of do whatever,” Bullock said. “But I think everybody would be certainly in favor of developing that for the betterment of the city.”