Living facility gets go-ahead with land sale

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brookhaven’s first downtown assisted living facility will belocated just across from the Inez Hotel, and city officials arepleased and excited with the possibilities.

Wednesday afternoon, developer Gayle Evans sealed a deal topurchase two lots on Monticello Street across from the Inez andbetween the Trustmark Bank on the corner and Foster’s Chevron. Cityleaders said they’re glad to reach a resolution over thedeveloper’s plans.

“We’re excited about it,” said Mayor Les Bumgarner. “It’s aperfect location and a much-needed facility, and we look forward toworking with him any way we can.”

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Meanwhile Evans, who has developments and plans for severalother areas around the state, said he’s even more excited. He saidhe’d almost written Brookhaven off as a location for a developmentin spite of the city’s obvious need for assisted living.

“I really gave up on Brookhaven, and I’d moved on to Natchez andGulfport and Pontotoc,” said Evans, a reference to last year’sstalled efforts to build the facility elsewhere in downtown. “Nowthat I have this settled and everyone’s helping me out there, weshould get started as soon as the people that are there are able tomove.”

Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice-President Cliff Brumfieldsaid the facility will fill a need in Brookhaven that will tietogether a lot of loose ends.

“The need for an assisted living facility has long beendiscussed in Brookhaven, and the presence downtown should prove tobe a great asset,” he said. “The location will be such that itdoesn’t take away from anything downtown and should only add byproviding living space for active adults with close proximity tolocal restaurants, shopping, banking and other services. It shouldbe a win-win situation for all.”

Evans agreed, pointing out that the proximity to severalchurches and the coming senior citizens center will be a real assetto the residents of his new development.

“These people can get out and walk and, they’re not far from thesenior citizens center, and churches, there’s just about everydenomination of church there is downtown,” he said. “People don’trealize when people get old, you don’t want to be in thebackground, want to be out front doing something.”

The lot where Evans will put the center is roughly 275 feetacross, and the building is planned at four stories, with the firststory being for parking.

“You can just get on the elevator and go up to your floor,” hesaid.

Some of the units will have two bedrooms, Evans said, and all ofthem will have a kitchenette, a sitting area and walk-inclosets.

“I’m going all out on this one,” he said.

Evans began seeking approval from the board of aldermen to putan assisted living downtown in early 2008, with the burned-out siteat the corner of Monticello Street and Whitworth Avenue as histarget. But officials agreed the new spot will fit the needexactly.

Meanwhile, city leaders focus on the possibility of makingdowntown even more of a vibrant cultural center, saying that asmore people begin to live downtown, the more people care abouttheir community.

“I think it’s going to be a boost for downtown, and it willbring in these residents’ guests and family,” Bumgarner said.”It’ll be a shot in the arm for downtown, and we’re extremelyexcited about it.”