This conceptual rendering commissioned by Ridgeland a back in 2014 shows what the new City Hall at the proposed City Center would look like. The City Center was initially proposed to be a nine-building cityspace that includes a performing arts center, city hall, museum and an office building.
This conceptual rendering commissioned by Ridgeland a back in 2014 shows what the new City Hall at the proposed City Center would look like. The City Center was initially proposed to be a nine-building cityspace that includes a performing arts center, city hall, museum and an office building.
RIDGELAND — City officials expect bond monies to be available as early as next month to coincide with early bids on the long-anticipated Town Center project.

Aldermen unanimously approved the low interest bid of 2.689669 percent from First Tennessee Bank for issuance of almost $20 million in general obligation bonds on Tuesday. The motion was made by Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier and seconded by Ward 5 Alderman Bill Lee.

City Clerk Paula Tierce said that First Tennessee Bank was one of seven institutions that submitted bids with interest rates between 2.967 percent and the low bid chosen above. They include:

• Duncan Williams at 2.967279 percent

• Hutchinson Shockey at 2.768372 percent

• Crews & Associates at 2.748065 percent

• Raymond James at 2.702253 percent

• Piper Jaffray at 2.735160 percent

• Robert W. Baird at 2.94999 percent

Mayor Gene F. McGee chalked the good bids up to the city’s bond rating.

“We are very fortunate to have the best bond rating in the state of Mississippi,” McGee said.

Community Development Director Alan Hart would later confirm that he expected to have all bids for the City Center project in the northwestern corner of School Street and U.S. 51 as early as next Tuesday.

Officials said they expect to have closing documents prepared in August, with the money available shortly after that.

“That should be right when our bids for the new town center will be coming in,” McGee said, referencing a key target for bond funds.

In May, the board passed final approval to issue no more than $19.960,000 in general obligation bonds after a period soliciting public input.

Targeted projects include the City Center Building or City Hall, currently estimated at $15.9 million; nearly $1.4 million improved baseball fields at Freedom Ridge Park and an estimated $700,000 parking lot at Hite B. Wolcott Park.

The combined estimated total for the three projects is well within the full capacity of the bonds to be issued at $18,080,593. Officials have also suggested bond money could be spent on ongoing projects like the incomplete Lake Harbour Drive Extension if needed.

Ridgeland officials last issued bonds in December of 2015 in the amount of $11.9 million.

The money was initially slated to alter School Street and construct an entrance where Rice Road connects to U.S. 51 for the City Center Project.

Officials suggested at the time that the money could be used for a variety of other infrastructure projects including parking at the site, roads or “other Public Works priorities.”

McGee said in May that the bond monies ended up going toward the purchasing of right-of-way for some of the city’s larger capital projects and some road and sewer improvements and repairs.

“The bond issue was for more than the City Center and Rice Road, although design for the City Hall is included,” McGee said in an email. 

He said that other projects included, “Colony Park Blvd Right of Way purchase as well as the cost of moving utilities. Lake Harbour Extension Right of Way Purchase as well as the cost of moving utilities and engineer design cost. East Lake Harbour Overlay Project. Jackson Street Multi-Use Trail and Sunnybrook Road Water, Sewer and Road improvements.”