HELENA-WEST HELENA –

The wheels of the Delta Bridge Project continue to turn and seem to continue to improve and revitalize Phillips County and Helena-West Helena. Joe Black, president of Southern Bancorp Capital Partners, in conjunction with the DBP, is seeking action from the Helena-West Helena City Council to declare parts of Downtown Helena a development district.

The plan calls for an area east and west from the Mississippi River to College Street, including Perry, Porter and Oakland streets to Avalon, an area north and south from Walker to Arkansas Streets including the Biscoe Street corridor, to get a special designation from the city council. That declaration will allow individuals seeking to develop loft apartments, create a new business or expand an existing business, or acquire and renovate historical homes in that area access to a $3 million revolving fund for loans.

The SBCP wants an incentive to spark downtown revitalization. Historic restoration is the goal of the loans for eligible homes within the proposed district.

Housing stock within the district is an “endangered asset,” said Black in a memo sent to Mayor James Valley Oct. 9.

Black is asking that the city council to select at least three people, which should include a code enforcement officer, a Historical Society member and one “at large” position from the council.

“A revitalized downtown will serve as a catalyst for tourist development and expand the retail sector of the community,” stated Black’s letter to the mayor.