TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Is Tupelo's new front porch where you would prefer to live?
There's no question Fairpark has become a popular draw for festivals and the green space of choice for scores of people, but the leap into a permanent residence has yet to be chosen by the masses.
Developer Tim Hester remembers when he was given the green light to pursue a project in the Fairpark District.
He believes there could have been many more lots sold if the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency had allowed more local realtors and developers help market the property.
"I think you should have had more relationships with realtors and developers. It started with Henry Turley in Memphis, and then you really didn't have any local real estate person marketing it, and finally Coldwell Banker comes in, and they've done a good job, but you really need to branch out," Hester said.
When the Fairpark District was first launched, Memphis developer Henry Turley was brought on board. He was already known for his success in the development of riverfront land in downtown Memphis called Harbor Town.
"I think the people thought they had a plan. Turley had been so successful in Memphis. They thought that could transcend down here, and it didn't, and then even that far back, you had a problem with the economy," Hester added.
In 2008, a serious problem with the economy occurred, and we're still digging out of it today.
Realtor Keith Henley describes what happened as the perfect storm.
"It's been a perfect storm with the downturn of the economy and the redevelopment of downtown. Most of the builders that were in business four years ago, 60 percent of them are no longer in business," Henley said.
Urban planning and economic development consultant Tripp Muldrow says like so many other cities, marketing efforts in the Fairpark District were put on ice during the downturn.
Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association Director -- and the driving force behind TRA -- Debbie Brangenberg says the economic downturn gave them time to rethink strategy.
"We've used the downturn with the economy to do our homework -- to see where our next direction is. Do we need to revise the original plan? What do we need to do for the future to see that it come to full fruition," Brangenberg said.
Muldrow says the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency needs to ramp up marketing and that effort needs to include the local real estate community.
"Obviously, we're the people on the street pounding the pavement. We have the contacts. We network, and we can bring deals to the table. I believe TRA is receptive to working with the real estate community," Henley added.
Muldrow says the hot market right now are homes prices $150,000 and under.
Home prices in Fairpark range from $235,000 to $350,000.
That may turn away the very people who are likely to choose downtown life -- young professionals.
Henley says there's not enough inventory that classifies as affordable for young professionals throughout downtown Tupelo.
Brangenberg says they do want to offer more affordable housing and they are looking into ways to make that happen.
The plan so far does not include more participation from local realtors, but that could change.
For now, the Tupelo Redevelopment Agency, the Community Development Foundation, the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, among others, have hired a consultant.
The company Hunden Strategic Partners hopes to help in the pursuit of an entertainment district as well as a boutique hotel.
While they wait for recommendations, Brangenberg says she and scores of others remain proud of the accomplishments here.
Of the seven objectives set forth by the visionaries of Fairpark, they have managed to accomplish six.
They are: infrastructure, East Main Street improvements, the building of a new City Hall, the Tupelo Automobile Museum, the BancorpSouth Conference Center and residential development.
The economic downturn has resulted in setbacks for Fairpark, but Henley believes the economy is slowly balancing out.
New projects coming to Fairpark include the new restaurant Mugshots.
Also,a bakery recently opened in Fairpark.