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West Point Development Authority takes control of 10th street contract

WEST POINT — Following an executive session approximately a half hour in length, the West Point Development Authority on Monday afternoon took assignment of a contract in the amount of $258,000 from CDR Ventures, LLC. This will allow the WPDA to determine what it wants to do with the property, and should resolve an impasse that emerged last week when the West Point City Council denied a request from the WPDA to apply $80,000 from the city’s Forward Fund to this project.

Tramell and Ledbetter were spectators at Monday’s noon hour meeting, held in the WPDA office on West 3rd Avenue.

“I am very pleased with their decision,” the mayor said. “It will allow us to continue moving forward in West Point.”

A capacity crowd filled the board room for the meeting. Board President Josh Moon, who’s been with the organization for 11 years, said it was the biggest crowd he’d seen at a WPDA meeting.

“I’m glad that there’s interest in what we’re doing,” he said. “Our goal is to create economic development. We target projects to create jobs.”

Moon said that the redevelopment of the 10th Street corridor was not a new initiative. It’s something city officials have been looking at for some time. In the past two or three years, Moon said, there have been land acquisition and property swaps between the city and WPDA.

“It has taken a lot of time to get to where we are now,” he said.

Most recently, the WPDA has targeted a 1.14-acre site off East 10th Street, between Avenues H and I. The land includes two warehouse buildings and 18 rental residences. CDR Ventures LLC, a West Point-based construction company, had entered into a contract to purchase the property for $258,000. The goal was to relocate those people living in the rental properties and to clear the site for future economic development. The original intent was for the WPDA to purchase the site from CDR Ventures LLC, with some help from the city’s Forward Fund.

The city council balked at that idea last week, denying the request in a 4-2 vote, though opponents of the request made it clear they weren’t against what the WPDA was trying to do.

The WPDA board asked for input from citizens present.

West Point resident Diane Davidson told the board that she saw last week’s council vote as a hiccup that could be resolved.

“I hope you keep going with this,” she said. “There’s a little train of progress rolling down the tracks in our community,” she said. “You can see it with Valley clearing the land they own, and Lanett cleaning up the mill site. That little train is rolling, and those who don’t get on will be left behind.”

West Point resident Vivian Heard commended board members for attempting to bring economic development to the city.

“It’s badly needed,” she said. “I applaud you for taking this on in behalf of the city.”

Heard asked Moon if the WPDA was looking at developing the entire site or part of it. “Our eventual goal is to develop all of it,” he said. “But we will be keeping some homes on 9th Street for current tenants. We are not displacing them. What we are attempting to do now is a stop gap measure to keep from displacing those who are there now.”

Moon said that he’d like to see the 10th Street property have a mixed use, including both commercial and residential uses.

Butch Garrison and Marshall Sapp told the board they were in favor of what they’d been doing. Councilman Ledbetter said that he felt there was broad support behind it.

“Before last week’s vote, at least two dozen people called me to tell me they were in favor of what had been discussed,” he said. “After the vote, another two dozen called to tell me we needed to move forward with it.”

Tramell told the board last week’s vote was based on not wanting to spend the Forward Fund money, not on the WPDA’s plans to repurpose the land.

When the regular session resumed after the 30-minute executive session to discuss real estate, Board Member Wiky Gladden made the motion for the WPDA to take assignment of the 10th Street site from CDR Ventures, LLC. It was seconded and unanimously approved. The action was met with applause from the crowd gathered inside the board room.

Moon then told the mayor that the WPDA would be looking for help from the city in cleaning up the site and in helping relocate affected residents.

“You are welcome to come and discuss this with us at any time,” Tramell said.

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