Update on 8-18-15: JJ obtained the actual press release. It contains a timeline of events that is posted below.
Original post: Mayor Gene McGee announced at a press conference this afternoon that he has kept the Costco project secret for quite some time.
The Madison County Journal reported this afternoon:
Under a strict confidentiality agreement, Mayor Gene F. McGee and city officials have been working with Costco and developers since 2014, it was announced at a press conference this afternoon.
McGee said the project was code-named "Santa Claus" so people could discuss it without "divulging the name of the corporation."
He said they began working with Costco's real estate representative in August 2014 and were asked to provide information for six sites along I-55. They "zeroed in" on the Highland Colony site that's become so controversial the last month.
McGee said Costco began acquiring the real estate at the proposed site - south of the Natchez Trace Parkway between I-55 and Highland Colony Parkway - in September 2014.
In December 2014, Andrew Mattiace was selected to lead the development, a project timeline provided by the city reads.
Throughout the 2015 legislative session, city officials worked with legislators and lobbyists for help in funding Lake Harbour Extension. The city was awarded a $1.5 million grant.
In April 2015, city officials met with Costco representatives and their architect and engineer to discuss the city's review process.
In June 2015, the city adopted a zoning ordinance amendment for Costco for the purpose of adding a fuel center.
McGee said he was under strictest confidentiality regarding the project, saying such is required during economic development projects. He pointed to competition and hedging land prices as reasons why.
Costco officials will present more details of the project to the public this Thursday, at 6 p.m. in the Ridgeland High School cafeteria. Rest of article.
One question: Gene mentioned legislators were helping him. Which ones, who knew, and when did they know it?
Oh, and Dear Kane Ditto and Margaret Barrett-Simon: Hope y'all are happy. Guess you didn't learn from Worldcomm and Ergon, did you?