For Release at 10 a.m. June 16, 2018

The multi-million dollar project to turn the abandoned Lee Middle School in Columbus into a major mixed use location took two major steps forward on Friday.

The developer on the project notified the Columbus Redevelopment Authority on Friday that it is exercising its option to buy the property. In other words, the developer is ready to complete the purchase.

Soon after that decision Friday, the Columbus Redevelopment Authority (CRA) gave written notice to the Columbus Municipal School District of its intention to exercise the option to transfer ownership of the property from the School District to the CRA to allow the purchase to be carried out.

“These are significant steps we have worked on for months,” said John Acker, the chairman of the CRA. “These steps mean this is close to becoming a done deal and now only a couple of other steps remain,” he added.

The CRA has requested the Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees to add the issue of the transfer of the property to their special meeting agenda that is already scheduled for Wednesday, June 20. Once that transfer is complete, the deal can be completed.

Lee Middle School was closed in 2011 and the CRA took the school on as its largest project since the group was formed by Mayor Robert Smith and the City Council to redevelop blighted properties.. The developer plans to preserve a large part of the school for commercial and residential mixed use and build new similarly mixed use structures on the land north of the gymnasium.

The only identifying notations in the documents executed Friday say that the purchaser is a Mississippi limited liability corporation named Military Lee, LLC. The Mississippi Secretary of State’s office shows Military Lee, LLC was formed on May 25, 2018 and lists the corporation’s attorney, Steve McEwen on the document.

Members of the CRA said they hope the deal will close within seven days.