Sardis Lake Complex moving forward

The Sardis Mayor and Board of Aldermen received an updated version of the proposed Sardis Lake Recreation and Tourism Complex the town hopes to see move forward in the near future.

The project was first undertaken in the late 1990s when town leaders secured a long-term lease from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, and began making plans for the complex. The Marina was built and opened to great fanfare in the early 2000s, but since that time further projects have languished on the shelves of several town boards.

The hiring of Greg Davis as tourism and project manager earlier this year has pumped vigor into the proposal, though, and town leaders are anxious to see the complex develop along the lake.

Sardis has 1,100 acres in the lease, and town leaders want to see what grants and low-interest loans may be available for the development.

The board wants Davis to head up the project, but have also asked Joe Azar to use the Panola Partnership’s diverse contacts to help jump-start the process.

In a board meeting last week, the board unanimously adopted a resolution that will change its downtown from a commercial only to mixed use designation. This will allow investors to use downtown buildings for commercial businesses on their bottom floors, while renovating top floors for living spaces and lofts that can be rented separately.

These types of arrangements for downtown areas – popular with millenials and other alike – are referred to a “work, live, play” spaces that attract couples wanting to integrate work with their active lifestyles.

Town aldermen said Sardis has “hooks in the water” concerning the complex and they hope to land a major investor soon. A concrete commitment to build a hotel with convention space would give others incentive to begin thinking of housing and entertainment projects within the leased areas.

Additionally, many federal and state avenues are open for Sardis to pursue under the umbrella of economic development.

Sardis leaders are also hopeful their endeavors to improve the lake area will benefit all of Panola County. “Right now we don’t have the hotels in Sardis we need to make this kind of project successful,” one alderman said. “We want this to be something all of Panola County can be proud of, and something that will benefit all of us.”