Mayor's Report

Nov 20

May Blvd Pedestrian Bridge

Posted on November 20, 2019 at 12:00 PM by Darren Musselwhite

Connecting the paths…

As we continue forward with our plan to make our city more pedestrian friendly, we have the opportunity to complete potentially the largest pedestrian route in Desoto County’s history.  Several years ago, the City received an alternative transportation grant from MDOT for a 10-ft.-wide multi-use trail designed to connect Central and Snowden Grove Parks. This trail will route from Central Park southward on Tchulahoma to May Blvd. and will finally be under construction in 2020.  A few years later in 2014, the City made application for federal Metropolitan Planning Organization funding assistance for another 10-ft.-wide multi-use trail that routes throughout Snowden Grove Park.  These funds were received this year and this trail is currently under construction with completion projected by year-end.  In 2017, pedestrian lanes were added throughout Central Park with a crossing over Swinnea Road connecting to lanes added along Clarington Drive to Airways Blvd. near Baptist-Desoto Hospital.  The only connecting pieces needed to complete this route are May Blvd. and a safe way to cross Goodman and Getwell Roads.  Since MDOT has authority on Goodman because it is a state highway, they will make traffic adjustments there and the City is designing a bridge to be built over Getwell at May Blvd. to connect all of these routes.

Traffic safety and congestion mitigation…

Traffic safety and congestion mitigation are major concerns on Getwell, in general, but will become more so as the development at Silo Square and surrounding areas progresses.  The traditional town square there will attract many pedestrians naturally creating a serious vehicle congestion problem when stopped while pedestrians cross Getwell to get to concerts and other park events.   The bridge will resolve this problem.

An economic attraction…

Our city is far behind many in our country regarding pedestrian routes.  Many citizens enjoy the quality of life afforded by walkable communities.  This bridge and connecting routes will move us forward tremendously with this type of amenity.  Connecting the pending business developments that include retail, restaurants, and hotels on both the east and west sides of Getwell with park events at Snowden Grove will create an entertainment district that our city has never had.  All of this improves the economic demand of our city resulting in economic growth and benefits that will pay dividends to all of our citizens for many years in the future.  More specifically, we envision this bridge to become iconic along with Snowden Grove Park and become a great marketing tool to increase tourism draw, and again, the resulting economic benefits that follow.

This bridge is currently in the design stage with proposed features similar to the ones at Vanderbilt University, the University of Missouri, and Foley, Alabama and will be built in compliance with federal safety standards for the utmost safety of both pedestrians and motor vehicles.  It will be funded as part of a capital improvement plan with a general obligations bond.  In 2020, 2021, and 2022, the City will have satisfied major debt obligations with one of the most significant being the original debt used to build Snowden Grove Park in 1999.  Total debt-service (payment) reductions equate to approximately $2.6 million annually.  Patience and sound financial management has put our city in the position to continue leveraging revenue to invest in our city’s future while still reducing debt and continuing to improve our net financial position.  Projected pre-bid construction cost estimates range between $1.2 and $1.6 million.  Construction is projected to begin in the third quarter of 2020. 

Nov 11

City Hall Renovation

Posted on November 11, 2019 at 12:13 PM by Darren Musselwhite

Revitalization of “Original Southaven” is extremely important for our city.  This is a challenging task for any city as economic demands naturally change as cities age.  We’ve had some gradual success with this during the last few years, but we must continue to do everything we can to make our original business district attractive to businesses.  We offer every financial incentive that exists according to state law, but we must also continue to improve public infrastructure and make this special part of our city as attractive as possible.  Large amounts of funding have been allocated here to modernize intersections, resurface streets, add pedestrian paths, and beautify our city with signage and landscaping projects.  Our latest project is the renovation of City Hall.

If we are going to ask businesses to come back to our original business district and renovate their buildings, should we not first do the same and show our commitment to “Original Southaven”?

Of course, we should.  Keeping the municipal government operation in our original business district shows that this district is truly “Original Southaven” and a vital part of Southaven’s future.  Renovating and investing in this building further proves this commitment.

Many of our citizens know that this building on Northwest Drive is one of the oldest commercial buildings in our city.  It was built in 1969 and originally housed the offices of the founders of the Southaven community who installed the first public utilities and built the first homes.  Cary Whitehead and Jon Reeves both had offices on the 4th floor where the City’s Finance and Administration offices are currently located.  Years later, many students attended college in the building when it was occupied by Northwest Mississippi Junior College.  The City has used the building as City Hall for a couple of decades now.  This has been a very efficient use of the building but, as time has passed, the building has deteriorated and developed problems.

In 2019, it’s important to improve the security of this building and the safety of our employees.  This renovation will eliminate the drive-through porch canopy and expand space for a larger reception area for our citizens.  The installation of bollards will prevent vehicles from getting to an unsafe proximity to the building.  Moving the counters of frequently-used departments closer together on the first floor will allow one access point from the main, west entrance and improve operational efficiency for employees and citizens.

First impressions matter!

We are the 3rd largest city in the state and the northern gateway to Mississippi.  Southaven recruits top-tier developments that can have tremendous economic benefits for our city.  It’s important that we “put our best foot forward” and improve our aggregate economic image.  Many things have been done in this general effort in recent years and the renovation of our hub of operations will play a big part in this as well.   

Our citizens deserve it!

This renovation will further improve ADA compliance with our building; modernize and expand first-floor bathrooms; resurface walls and flooring in the Boardroom and first floor; add permanent seating to the Boardroom; and add a “Tribute Hall” near the Boardroom entrance to honor former dedicated employees and citizens that have made tremendous impacts for our city in the past.

City Hall is approximately 50,000 square feet.  Constructing a new building of this size would cost, at minimum, $9 million.  The City values the efficiency of renovating this building for the total bid cost of $1,910,695 ($792,887 for the new roof, $1,117,808 for the exterior and first-floor renovations).  This project is currently under construction with completion projected in March, 2020.


Nov 07

Desoto County Ranks 3rd Nationally in Industrial Submarkets

Posted on November 7, 2019 at 12:08 PM by Darren Musselwhite

“Why are there so many empty warehouses in Southaven?” is a question that I consistently receive.  Although there may have been times in the past when temporary vacancies were different, that is not what we are experiencing now.

Absorption is the economic term used to measure the net change in industrial space occupancy (move-ins minus move-outs).  *During the last twelve months, Desoto County ranks 3rd in the nation in positive industrial absorption.  At the end of the 2019 third quarter, industrial space in Desoto County is 90.9% occupied.

Our county is an extremely attractive place to locate or expand due to our two major interstate systems, proximity to air and water transportation, centralized geographic location, qualified workforce, and great quality of life amenities for the families of employees.

The City of Southaven has enjoyed rates of success just like our entire county in 2019 and continues to see positive growth and improved occupancy trends, most notably with the addition of Kruger (350,356 square feet) this year, Spectra Laboratories (211,000 square feet) currently under construction, and Medline Industries (1.4 million square feet) to be constructed in 2020.

 *CBRE Marketview, Q3 2019