What Leigh Mall’s development project means for Lowndes County citizens

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Leigh Mall in Columbus is said to be one of the most important pieces of property in Columbus and Lowndes County.

Now, the city and county are offering financial encouragement to the mall’s owner, the Hull Group, to give it a much-needed makeover.

The Golden Triangle Development Link, a consultation firm contracted with the county, is working on a plan that could convince the Hull group to take some sales and property tax incentives after infrastructure improvements are made rather than before.

“They’re telling us they’re going to invest several million dollars in the mall; Renovating it, making new stores, and relocating some of their other existing tenants,” says Link CEO, Joe Max Higgins. “What we’ve got to do is figure out what impact does that has on the city of Columbus and Lowndes County.”

Higgins says Columbus will receive sales tax and property tax benefits while Lowndes County will benefit from property taxes.

“We gotta pay for roads. We gotta hire policemen. We gotta do drainage. We gotta do mold. All of the services that we have to deliver at our city and county level -gotta have money to do that,” said Higgins.

And the Hull Group has to deliver on their end of the deal in a certain amount of time to receive maximum profit.

So whether it’s fixing the parking lot or remodeling its building, Leigh Mall owners only receive sales tax incentives for projects that recruit new businesses or if current tenants are increasing their sales.

But the kicker for the Hull Group is… new tenants can’t drive away business from current tenants.

“For instance when Dick’s came here, you already had Hibbett’s. Well if you and bought shoes for Hibbett at Hibbett and now your buying shoes at Dick’s, you’re not buying more shoes, you’re just moving to where you buy them,” said Higgins.

Higgins anticipates that an overview of an official plan can be presented by late February or early March.

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