Thursday, June 8, 2023

Pass Christian mayor pushing for more ideas to develop downtown


PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) – New opportunities for development happening now in the Pass. With an early win in his pocket, Mayor Jimmy Rafferty is pushing for more incentives to lure more businesses to downtown and beyond.

Construction noise is what Rafferty wants to hear downtown, and strategic conversation is the key.

“I was in human resources my entire career,” Rafferty said. “And, really, it’s all about bringing people together.”

In his second brainstorming session were new and familiar faces ready to hear more of Rafferty’s plan to revitalize downtown.

His main weapon: Tax Increment Financing districts.

“Really, what a TIF does is, it helps bring businesses in where businesses have never been before,” he said.

Simply put: TIF refunds or diverts a portion of a company’s taxes above an established property value to help finance development.

The city is fresh from the county’s approval this week of a TIF Plan for the $57 million West Pass Station that will bring hotel and retail space to an undeveloped space.

“Now, we’re focused on the downtown and an area near Walmart, which is right on the beach,” Rafferty added.

That seven-acre property is owned by Kumar Amaraneni. And he has ideas.

“Like a resort area for people, the tourists, to come and enjoy the beach across the highway,” he said.

Amaraneni likes the idea of TIF and, although he’s in no rush to make a move, he likes the city’s vision.

“Jimmy is full of energy, you know,” he said. “And he wants to a lot for the county and especially Pass Christian. So, I want to be a part of it.”

Bill Wingfield is excited enough about the city’s potential growth that he and his wife, Dr. Angela Wingfield, opened another dermatology clinic this week.

“There’s not a lot of medical facilities in Pass Christian,” he said. “And as the growth of the community gets bigger, there’s more need for doctors and professional folks to come into the marketplace.”

Rafferty intends to continue with these brainstorming sessions to develop a variety of ideas beyond TIF districts.

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