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Mayor's Report - Getwell Road South Widening Project Update

Mayor's Report - Getwell Road South Widening Project Update

This critical transportation-enhancement project has the largest traffic volume of any non-state highway or federal interstate system in Desoto County and rivals some of those as well.  The long history of the planning and funding of this $14-million project may be viewed with the link at the bottom of this post.

To update, this project has progressed very well and will be completely functional sooner than projected in October of this year.  Much of this project will provide benefits sooner than that and especially by the time school starts again.

I want to specifically update everyone as I’ve fielded questions recently about the design.  First, road construction is always inconvenient, so I hope everyone will remember the improvements will be well worth the trouble when it is finished.  The nightmare of congestion was not going away without this work.  We could also laugh to keep from crying, somewhat, at ourselves.  Comedians could certainly have a heyday with the reaction and comments from some Desoto Countians about roundabouts and medians.  Some of you are due for a road trip to see that these are nothing new as they are used successfully around the country and even in other parts of Mississippi.

Very seriously now, listen to me, medians are for safety.  Let me say it again, medians are for safety.  Yes, they do improve the look of the road aesthetically because they can be landscaped, but that is not their primary purpose.  Medians are for safety.  It is a proven fact that medians save lives.  Separating the traffic saves lives.  The traffic calming effect saves lives as drivers statistically slow speeds and pay better attention in the presence of medians.  I think about our teenage drivers when I think about this project.  If you don’t know this already, Getwell was very dangerous before this project.  High-speed rear-end collisions have been frequent as have accidents caused by drivers crossing solid white lines and driving long distances down the center turning lane in other areas where they currently exist.  Medians drastically minimize these risks.  The other myth about medians is that they prevent left turns.  This project is designed with curb cuts and turning lanes for every major side entrance with stacking distances appropriate for traffic.  College and Star Landing intersections will also be widened with proper turning lanes and modern signalization.

As Jimmy told us, “Come Monday, it’ll be alright” or as I’m telling you, “Come October, it’ll be alright”

Original post 02/22/23 Blog • Getwell South Widening Project (

Mayor's Report - State of our Economy

Mayor's Report - State of our Economy

$1.38 billion of new private capital investment for recently completed or pending economic developments are occurring now in Southaven.  Did I say, billion?  How much is a billion?  A billion is one thousand millions!  Again, 1.38 billion dollars has recently been invested or soon will be in our city!

If I widen my scope for a moment, I must acknowledge that all of us are affected by current national economic factors, many of which are not good, so let me narrow my focus again and continue sharing some information with you that is good.  In my daily walk of life in Southaven, it’s common for people to stop me and say, “Man, there’s a lot going on in Southaven these days!”  Or, “Mayor, Wow! Southaven is hopping right now!”  Obviously, you can ride through our city and tell that economic development is thriving, but it is important for me to communicate to our citizens just how much.  Economic demand in Southaven has never been higher.  These new developments will add to the amenities and quality of life for our citizens, but also pay large financial dividends to all of our citizens through general fund tax dollars.  The new property and sales taxes that these developments bring will allow our city to continue growing our public safety services, resurface more streets and enhance all other amenities while continuing to stabilize property tax rates.  While real estate and economic principles determine the amount of demand in any given location, we know that development anywhere in our city benefits everyone regardless of where you live.

We cultivate and celebrate both new developments in undeveloped areas and redevelopment in our built-out business districts.  The West End redevelopment is naturally slower as it is the oldest with the lowest demand but many strides have been made in recent years and recruiting is ongoing.  The following developments in our established Goodman corridor, Metropolitan District (Church Rd), and other isolated areas throughout our city total $321 million:

Kia Dealership

Honda Dealership


Raising Cane’s

Staybridge Hotel

Hyatt House Hotel

Element by Westin Hotel

Kentucky Fried Chicken-Goodman/Malone

Monahan Farms Project

Stonecrest Mixed-Use/Retail (Church/Airways)

Church Crossing Retail (Airways South of Church)

Cherry Tree Commercial Office Complex

College Office Complex (Getwell South)

Embassy Suites (Pepperchase at Landers Center)

It’s obvious that demand is higher nowhere else than the Getwell corridor and the Snowden District. The first entertainment district that I envisioned and discussed over a decade ago has become real with the similar visions and investments of key private developers.  Silo Square is hugely successful, but there are many other outstanding developments pending in this business district on the west side of Getwell and several hundred million pending that will be connected by the bridge and new pedestrian paths on the east side of Getwell.  Over $1 billion dollars of development will soon be vertical in this district alone!  Here are some of the outstanding developments:

Silo Square Mixed-Use/Commercial/Residential

Desoto Square

Provost Mixed-Use

Highlander Mixed-Use

Crossover Retail/Recreational

Top of the Sip Mixed-Use, Recreational, Restaurant


Let it Fly Sports Restaurant

Firebird’s Restaurant

Fairfield Inn & Suites Hotel

Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel

Ritolo’s Restaurant

Silo Grocery

Serenity Pointe Assisted Living/Residential

Baskin Robbins Ice Cream & Wildwood Office Park

Snowden Farms Commercial

Snowden Grove Commercial


Central BBQ Restaurant

Tekila Restaurant

Georgia Blue Restaurant

Silo Dental

Finally, with this explosive growth comes tremendous challenges with transportation infrastructure and public safety.  The City has and will continue to expand personnel as well as a new Police East Precinct opening later this summer and Fire Station #5 late this year.  Snowden Lane widening and the Nail Road extension connecting Getwell and Tchulahoma are currently in design with construction following these $2.6 and $6.8 million projects, respectively.  Swinnea and McIngvale Roads were connected and opened recently by the County and the City will widen the Swinnea intersections at Star Landing and Church Roads and adjust signalization.  The I-55/Church Interchange widening is projected to be under construction in 2026 as well.  Many more road extension and widening projects are in our comprehensive plan.

$1.38 billion?  Amazing!  Hang on for the ride, Southaven!

Mayor's Report - Tennis Phase Two Expansion

Mayor's Report - Tennis Phase Two Expansion

Construction will begin within a few weeks on the next phase of expansion at the Snowden Grove Tennis Complex.  This latest $2.7 million park-enhancement project will add eight additional outdoor tennis courts just west (top left of photo) of the existing eight-court cluster on the vacant land in front of the park maintenance shop.  This project will complement the 2017 $1.6 million eight-court expansion that included a central pavilion and bathrooms as well as the 2018 $770,000 transformation of the old metal building on site into a pro shop with offices, locker rooms, concessions, and retail gear.  This project will move us from just 4 courts prior to 2017 to 20 total courts and 4 pickleball courts.  It also creates the option to convert more of the old tennis courts to pickleball creating 20 pickleball courts while still having 16 tennis courts.  We will gauge demand and tournament opportunities before finalizing this decision.  Either combination will offer opportunities and facilities for our citizens to the magnitude we’ve never had before!

In 2017, the first-ever official tennis operation was created within the City’s Parks and Recreation Department headed by new Director of Tennis, Michael Johnson.  To say this program has been a success is the understatement of the century as participation by our citizens, tournament demand, and tourism revenues continue to compound every year since then.  We’ve averaged over 100 new players in our program every year.  Earlier this year, our tennis program was named the state’s best by USTA-Mississippi.  The hire of Michael Johnson in 2017 and our continued investment into our facilities are the reasons for this success.

This project, funded completely by local tourism taxes, is part of our larger, ongoing plan to create new opportunities for our youth and enhance the lives of our citizens, in general.  Completion is projected in November of this year.

Mayor’s Report – Getwell South Widening Project

Mayor’s Report – Getwell South Widening Project

It’s a “Woo Hoo” and “Oh Crap” moment all at the same time! Any kind of road construction is a pain in the tail, but this project will mitigate the worst traffic congestion problem in our city involving a city-maintained street/road. We have been trying to solve this very expensive problem since 2015 when we made application for federal transportation funds through the Metropolitan Planning Organization Agency.

Why did it take so long?
We jumped many hurdles along the way as metropolitan jurisdictions must share limited funding for this program. When it was finally “our turn”, we complied with MDOT processes as they are charged with managing federal transportation funds. Then, you start the right-of-way purchase for the land needed to widen the road which takes on a life of its own with family trusts, absentee owners, and interesting personalities.

The financial magnitude of this project…
The last piece of bad news is what we’re all tired of hearing about…inflation! This project was original projected to cost $10,545,740. The federal fund allocation is $7,887,061. The lowest bid and actual cost of this project is $14,060,127! Since the Star Landing intersection improvements were included in a previous Desoto County MPO project that extended from Star Landing to Pleasant Hill Rd, the City could not include this in our project per MPO rules. Desoto County is assisting with this intersection signal and widening which costs $875,000, leaving the City with the remainder of the project cost totaling $5,298,066.

Enough about the labor pains, let me show you what this baby will look like!
This project will widen Getwell Rd south of Church Rd to Star Landing Rd from two lanes to five lanes, including a median for improved safety and new signals at College Rd and Star Landing Rd, as previously noted. The west side of the road will also be prepped for a future multi-use pedestrian trail as future funding becomes available. This project will eliminate the current “bottleneck” at Church Rd.

Before you ask…
As I mentioned above, improving transportation grids in a city growing like Southaven takes detailed planning. Many future projects are already planned, just pending funding. Specifically, Getwell will need to be widened further to I-269 as the opening of this interstate system has already dramatically changed daily traffic counts. Southaven and Desoto County have had many discussions about this and will continue to pursue a complete solution on the busiest north/south arterial road in our county, excluding federal and state routes.
Construction of this long-awaited project officially begins on March 1 with an estimated two-year timeframe for completion.

Jon Reeves, Tribute Hall Honoree

Jon Reeves, Tribute Hall Honoree

As I honor the special people who’ve made exemplary contributions to Southaven in our history, none span more than Jon Reeves! He began serving our citizens in the community of Southaven in 1963 and is still invested in our business community today.

After an admirable military career in the U.S. Army, Mr. Reeves and his soon-to-be bride were looking for a place to start their future journey together when he was offered his first civilian job by successful multi-enterprise business entrepreneur, Cary Whitehead, and his company, Allied Investment Company. Allied, who later changed their name to Allied Mortgage and Development Company, played a key role in the initial development of Southaven with utilities, home construction, and mortgage services for many of the very first homeowners from their office on Highway 51 just north of Stateline Rd. Mr. Reeves started a connection with Southaven with this first job in 1963 providing mortgage services.

Mr. Whitehead saw something special in the young Jon Reeves and made him his “go-to” man for many new business ventures, never worrying about experience but requiring him to be quick on his feet and learn with on-the-job training. One of these ventures was building Holiday Inns around the country. While on the east coast overseeing hotel construction, Mr. Reeves and his new bride built their first home. Before construction was final, they had an offer from a prospective buyer. Since their home was not for sale, Mr. Reeves agreed to build another home just like it for that person, which further resulted in a third request. Then, as we say, “the rest was history”.

Jon Reeves was assigned by Cary Whitehead in the ‘60s to assist in building Allied’s new office building. After completion, he worked in an office next to Mr. Whitehead on the 4th floor of this new building that later became and still is, Southaven City Hall. In the late ‘60s, along with fellow Allied employee, Bob Williams, he operated a produce business called, “The Market Place”, at the location of the original Allied offices on Highway 51. After a few years, the partners closed this business and created R&W Builders which later became Reeves-Williams, one of the largest residential home builders in Southaven’s history. After selling Reeves-Williams in the early 2000s, Mr. Reeves has continued to develop both residential and commercial properties in Southaven and has been a mentor and friend to countless other business people in our city.

While reflecting on his life in Southaven, Mr. Reeves smiled when he told me that he commonly has people approach him and say, “Hey, you built my home”. As he looked back even more, he said, “I’ve always been a part of Southaven from the beginning and 90% of my life has been Southaven”.

And, for that, Sir, Southaven is grateful!

Mayor’s Report - Hilton Embassy Suites Hotel

Mayor’s Report - Hilton Embassy Suites Hotel

“Project Sky” is the alias I assigned to this project when I first became involved in the recruitment and process to bring it to Southaven in 2017! I called it this because I wanted to see something different here that changed the skyline. After countless discussions, Project Sky is about to become reality in Southaven, bringing the first-ever full-service hotel to Desoto County. This beautiful, skyline-changing, $65-million development will be a 7-story, 240-room hotel on 6 acres at Pepper Chase/Venture Rds with a 10,000 square-foot restaurant, 3,554 square feet of meeting space, fitness/yoga room, lobby workstation, lazy river, and resort-style swimming pool, all connected via covered walkway to a newly-expanded convention center at the Landers Center.

This entire project is a three-pronged partnership including the City of Southaven, Desoto County, and the Desoto County Convention & Visitors Bureau to incentivize private hotelier, Premier Lodging, LLC to build the private hotel development and attach it to the new convention center. The convention center expansion at the Landers Center was critical in attracting this high-quality hotel. Desoto County has agreed to issue bonds for $38.5 million along with a $17 million cash investment by the DCCVB for the new 275,000 square-foot convention center that will be built adjacent and just north of the current Landers Center facility, which will further connect to the hotel on the north end. The City of Southaven’s Board of Aldermen voted in favor of allowing the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Rebate Program for a sales tax incentive to the hotelier to make the hotel financially feasible.

Construction of both the convention center and hotel are projected to begin simultaneously in the third quarter of 2023 with completion and opening projected in 2025. This will become the only convention center in the state of Mississippi with a hotel on site.

This project, along with Tanger Outlets, will become the cornerstones of tremendous future development in the Metropolitan District (Church Road from Pepper Chase to Elmore Rds) creating a new tourism draw for the entire county of Desoto that has never existed before as economic spillover will transcend Southaven. These are strong words, but I sincerely believe this development will positively impact Desoto County’s future more than any other.