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.
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!
“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.