“Approximately 16 years ago, Baptist Health Systems and the Greater Belhaven Foundation began an important partnership. Baptist is part of this neighborhood and has been very interested in working with the foundation to help them achieve their goals. We thank the staff and board for their time, commitment and love for this area as they strive to maintain the integrity of Belhaven.”
“I believe in the work the Greater Belhaven Foundation puts forward for our community. I have witnessed the impact on our parks, our streets, and our neighborhood. They are an extremely valuable asset to our community.”
The Greater Belhaven Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with a mission of connecting residents and businesses to foster a vibrant, historic community.
This mission is achieved through partnering, planning, protection, and promotion.
The Greater Belhaven Foundation Works for Our Neighborhood Every Day
- We invest resources in long-term projects like the renovation of Fortification Street and development of The Belhaven mixed-use building, through strategic private-public partnerships. These investments rely on careful due diligence and on working hand in hand with valuable city and state officials to avoid obstacles and provide quality projects that are worth the investment. We have also provided a business incubator for merchants and other small businesses through projects like the Belhaven Farmer’s Market, which began as a Saturday-morning market in McDade’s parking lot and after several years, successfully transitioned to the Mississippi Farmer’s Market on High Street.
- We offer ongoing, valuable promotion for neighborhood events and businesses, supporting the economic viability of Greater Belhaven. This includes use of a suite of digital communications (website, e-news, and social media) as well as person-to-person support for neighborhood events and businesses. As an Urban Main Street program, we also support neighborhood businesses by researching trends in retail and rental property markets, collaborating with merchants to maintain and grow businesses, and facilitating the neighborhood’s participation in key events such as the annual Blues Marathon.
- We facilitate and sustain a neighborhood land-use plan that allows for adaptability as well as preservation. In this context, we provide a clearinghouse for neighborhood homeowners’ and security organizations, and field frequent calls from homeowners and institutions seeking guidance with the City’s historic preservation ordinance and applications for certificates of appropriateness, including related to architectural changes and removal of large trees that are considered architectural features under the ordinance.
- We work to maintain relationships between the City and the neighborhood, and help to provide information about public projects. This work is done by careful research, strong relationship-building with city officials, advocacy, and providing a platform to channel public support for or against key issues.
- We research and vigilantly protect against threats to the stable character of the Greater Belhaven neighborhood by representing the neighborhood’s interests at planning board and city council meetings. For example, we recently helped defeat a proposal to locate a federal prison in the neighborhood.
- We maintain successful, powerful public-private partnerships to support our neighborhood’s parks and green spaces. This includes large projects such as facilitating fundraising for new playground equipment, park lights, and benches. It also covers smaller, yet important, maintenance issues such as replacing light globes and damaged hardscaping, repairing electrical outlets to ensure access to electricity for special events, providing mosquito spray, and even changing out doggie-bag stations at regular intervals. Friends of Laurel Street Park, a committee that oversees Laurel Street Park, functions as a committee of the Foundation, and works with neighbors to hold fundraising events and build awareness around the parks.
- We produce the Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights festival and the Arts Series events. These events showcase the unique character of Belhaven, and benefit those who live and work in the neighborhood by offering a chance to visit, reconnect and celebrate. They also invite the larger community across the City and state to experience and share in the wonderful amenities and atmosphere that Belhaven has to offer.
- We network with other neighborhoods and with institutional neighbors like Baptist Health Systems, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, First Presbyterian Church, Belhaven University and Millsaps College, and look for opportunities to collaborate, coordinate and complement one another’s work for greater success for Jackson.
Headquartered at 954 E. Fortification Street, the foundation is housed in a 1925 renovated cottage. Once a dilapidated and neglected property, 954 was donated to the Greater Belhaven Foundation and transformed under the leadership of former executive director Virgi Lindsay. The office is now a showpiece and a space for community meetings and projects.
Greater Belhaven Foundation is an official Mississippi Urban Neighborhood Main Street community and is supported by a generous sponsorship from Baptist Health Systems and contributions from many other individuals, businesses, and organizations.
- Fortification Street Project, upgrading the condition of the road along with reducing the number of travel lanes from four to three to allow for five foot sidewalks, decorative lighting, and a planting strip. Over a decade of facilitation and perseverance to complete this crucial roadway through Greater Belhaven.
- Baptist Health Systems opened The Belhaven, an 180,000 square-foot, $80 million mixed-use development providing medical offices, space for the award-winning Manship restaurant, retail, and 11 townhouses. Keifer’s Restaurant, a much-appreciated neighborhood favorite, moved to a nearby location with continued success, allowing the neighborhood to grow and yet still preserve and protect its valuable assets.
- Belhaven Park underwent a $300,000 redesign to create a hub for community gatherings, performances, festivals, and exercise. This park now hosts the Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights main stage every August, and the Arts Series events throughout the year. The foundation continues to maintain the globe lights, park benches and some of the landscaping.
- Greater Belhaven became the first neighborhood in Jackson to tackle comprehensive rezoning since 1974, which resulted in the plan for a mixed-use district featuring fewer curb-cuts, wider sidewalks, and heavily landscaped parking lots. Established three categories of mixed-use districts from neighborhood, community, to regional districts, resulting in major redevelopment that includes restaurants, retail, condominiums, and offices.
- Worked with the City of Jackson and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to survey over 1000 structures to facilitate the successful approval of Belhaven on the National Register of Historic Places. Design guidelines were developed for both Belhaven and Belhaven Heights to enable the Jackson Historic Preservation Commission to make decisions regarding historic properties.
- Greater Belhaven Foundation supported an amendment to the City Zoning Ordinance to allow the Fairview Inn to operate on a residential street in Belhaven.
Operations and Governance
GBF is governed by a board of directors with representation from the Belhaven and Belhaven Heights neighborhoods. Work is done through committees focusing on economic restructuring, promotions, operations and design. GBF operates through the generous donation of our residents, merchants, friends and our major sponsor, Baptist Health Systems. We accept tax-exempt donations of property and money.
GBF Board of Directors and Officers
Sarah Skelton– Treasurer
FAMILY OF ORGANIZATIONS
Belhaven Heights Community Association
The BHCA works with property owners and businesses to improve Belhaven Heights through social events, green space enhancement, and code enforcement.
Belhaven Improvement Association
The BIA was established in 1965 by a group of neighborhood residents concerned with protecting and preserving the unique historic character of Belhaven.
Greater Belhaven Security Association
GBSA’s mission is to provide an organized framework to promote and preserve neighborhood safety and security throughout the Greater Belhaven neighborhoods.