Beautification: LeFleur East Foundation in early stages of creating new BIDBy ANTHONY WARREN,
A new business improvement district (BID) focused on beautifying the I-55 North and Lakeland Drive corridors could be coming to Jackson.
Leaders with the LeFleur East Foundation are in the early phases of building support for the LeFleur East BID.
The district would take in commercial properties along Lakeland Drive and the interstate.
If implemented, owners in the area would be assessed an additional tax along with their annual property taxes, which would go toward funding beautification projects.
The effort is being spear-headed by LeFleur East, which is also working to create a community improvement district (CID) in the residential area.
Foundation board members Warren Speed, Jonathan Ford and Jim Wilkirson are leading the charge.
“We feel there’s a real need to have a higher degree of attention paid to landscaping along Lakeland, which (the foundation) currently maintains, as well as the I-55 corridor,” Speed said. “I think we’re all tired of seeing weeds that are hip-high right in the middle of the city.”
Speed said LeFleur East is in the preliminary stages of establishing the BID, with committee members reaching out to property owners in the proposed area.
He did not know exactly how many property owners were in the area off-hand. The district would run along Lakeland Drive from the Pearl River to I-55 North, and along I-55 from Lakeland to Canton Mart Road.
That area includes Highland Village, The District at Eastover, Maywood Mart, Jacksonian Plaza, LeFleur’s Gallery and others.
“We have met with several owners and are still contacting others. The consensus is people want to see landscape maintenance,” Speed said.
Breck Hines, co-developer of the district, said he wants to know more about the proposal, but generally supports the idea.
BID’s are special taxing districts, where commercial property owners pay a special assessment along with their annual property taxes to fund public improvements.
Speed said it was too early to tell exactly how much.
There are currently two BID’s in Jackson, the Downtown BID and the Fondren BID.
The Fondren district was approved by property owners last year and became official on January 1. The Downtown BID has been in place for years.
The districts are governed by Mississippi Code Sections 21-43-101 through 21-43-133.
Under rules, groups must petition the city for the creation of a district and obtain 60 percent approval from eligible property owners in a proposed area before a BID can be set up.
Proponents also must designate a nonprofit group or a local government department to manage day-to-day operations of the district once it’s in place.
The downtown BID is managed by Downtown Jackson Partners.
The districts must be reauthorized every 10 years.
State law allows districts to assess owners separate amounts for developed and undeveloped portions of their properties. It does not set a maximum amount for how much can be assessed.
Speed said it was too early to say how much would be needed to fund beautification projects, or exactly what beautification projects would be funded if the district is eventually implemented.
Currently LeFleur East maintains the median along Lakeland Drive, while Hinds County maintains the improvements the foundation made years ago at Exit 100.
Meanwhile, general grass cutting along the medians of I-55 and Lakeland falls under the purview of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).
Recently, the agency has struggled to maintain the areas due to budget constraints and heavy rains.