Could this 90 acres attract new businesses and new tax dollars to north Mississippi? Small-town leaders sure hope so.

Published 6:06 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

The purchase of 90 acres could bring new businesses and new dollars for one Mississippi small town.

Batesville took a major economic development step last week, city officials said, entering into discussions to purchase 90 acres of prime commercial land located behind Lowe’s Home Improvement on Hwy. 6E.

City board members have been contemplating the purchase for more than a year as Panola Partnership negotiated with landowner Nolan West.  Partnership CEO Joe Azar informed officials last week that another buyer was interested in the property, spurring the decision to unanimously approve moving forward with the details of a transaction.

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Mayor Hal Ferrell released a short statement saying, “The City of Batesville is negotiating terms and provisions of a purchase and sales agreement for 90 acres of land for a multipurpose sports complex. Until an agreement is reached, I cannot discuss the details.  The city is headed in the right direction.”

The 90 acres (give or take) is reportedly priced at $900,000. The terms of the transaction have not been finalized, but the city’s tourism account is flush and funds from several sources may eventually be used for the total purchase.

Additionally, the city holds a certificate of deposit that will be worth nearly $450,000 when it matures in the fall. That money came from land sale proceeds on property the city sold when the south side of the Hwy. 6 and House-Carlson Dr. area was being developed, and could be used for the property under consideration.

The city has announced no plans for the property although it is widely speculated that aldermen have a long term goal of building a sportsplex at the location, much like the baseball and softball developments in Oxford, Southaven, Senatobia, Tupelo, and Grenada.

City officials have wanted to entice investors to the north side of Hwy. 6E for years in hopes of having a mall with well-known big box store brands locate here, and the purchase of the 90 acres sends a message that Batesville is willing to make development conducive to owners of a variety of retails businesses.

Currently, only hotels and a C-Spire outlet store occupy the area.

Modern sportsplex construction has been a boon for other cities of similar size because the weekend draws of travel ball tournaments fills hotels rooms and restaurants, and is a general boost to local economies.

Alderman Stan Harrison, who Azar called a driving force in the push to acquire property for future development, said the general agreement was a benchmark for the city’s progress.

“We aren’t exactly sure what will be developed, everyone seems to want a sportsplex and that would be a great thing for Batesville,” Harrison said. “The important thing is we were able to get this far along with this property and we don’t expect any problems finishing up the deal. This gives the people of Batesville a good idea that this board is working hard to develop business and bring all that we can to our city.”

“I hope this means we will soon have new stores and restaurants on that side of the highway because this is a step forward for all of our citizens,” he said.