Building on the Past

Once stops for Martin Luther King, B.B. King and Muddy Waters, Meridian officials are on a mission to revitalize the west end of Fifth Street.

Last year, the Meridian City Council set aside $25,000 to begin the initial steps for revitalizing what was once known as Meridian's African-American business district.

Mayor John Robert Smith said consultants have been hired and, at this time, are still talking with property owners and residents with ties to the area to get input.

"I think you're going to see some apartments," said Smith. "Develop some residential spaces, lots of commercial use but also a night life."

According to Smith, some of the two-story buildings will likely have apartments on the second floor with businesses on the first. There may be a park, perhaps one to recognize Meridian native David Ruffin from the Temptations, and parking spaces in some of the vacant lots.

"Just the flow of traffic would help the area a lot," said Charles Moore, who works on Fifth Street. "Of course, if it's more mainstream, you're going to have a bigger diverse group of people coming through."

Mayor Smith said the proposal by the consultant is expected to be ready sometime within the next year. If it gains city council approval, the development group may seek federal funding for the project.

If all goes well, Smith said the changes could be in place within the next five to ten years.