The developers of a 500-space parking lot, 200 apartments, and possibly some retail and dining spaces in Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood have taken a small step forward in their mixed-use project.
Jason Watkins, one of the developers involved, said the project will strengthen the economic center of Fondren.
The plan addresses parking and housing, which are important to the continued success of Fondren’s business district, and does more, said Rebecca Garrison, executive director of Fondren Renaissance.
“It extends the footprint of the business district to the west where there are more opportunities for residential and mixed-use redevelopment,” she said.
The City of Jackson Planning Board recommended at its July 27 meeting that City Council approve the rezoning of 3012, 3016, 3024, 3032, 3038, and 3046 Oxford Ave. and 510, 518 and 524 Mitchell Ave. in Urban Town Center. Current zoning ranges from R-4 to Village Urbain.
The planning board also recommended that the council grant a special use permit for the nine parcels on Oxford Avenue and Mitchell Avenue plus 3009 N. State Street.
City Council will vote on the planning board’s recommendation at its August 15 meeting.
Watkins, one of the developers who is part of Whitney Place LLC, said the zoning change would align this stretch along Oxford Avenue and Mitchell Avenue with the Urban Downtown zoning designation for the rest of the center. – town of Fondren. “It would give us a set of (zoning) rules to follow,” he said.
Whitney Place LLC owns or has all nine buildings under contract, Watkins said. All are currently rental duplexes, some vacant and some rented. Rental duplexes represent a change from the days when structures were owner-occupied and primarily single-family dwellings.
Architects are still determining where the apartments would be located on the site, but some of those duplexes could be demolished, Watkins said.
“It really depends on what architects and apartment developers come up with as the best layout,” he said.
The apartments, which would be on par with the District Lofts, The Quarter House and the Meridian, will be built by an as-yet-unnamed developer, he said. “I think we should be able to announce apartment details shortly after the city council vote on rezoning,” Watkins said.
The Planning Board also recommended that a use permit be granted for a parking garage which the developers, consisting of Watkins, David Pharr and several others, plan to build behind the Fondren Strip on North State Street. The strip includes the Capri Theatre, Pearl tiki bar and Highball Lanes and other businesses.
Construction is expected to begin at the parking lot in late fall, assuming materials are available, Watkins said. It is expected to be partially open by spring 2023 and complete by next summer.
The parking lot, whose construction is estimated at 13 million dollars, is in the design phase.
Senate Bill 3150 authorized up to $20 million in bonds to be issued by the Hinds County Development Project Loan Fund “to assist in the development and construction of infrastructure improvements, including structured parking , and other enhancements associated with an entertainment development project”.
“The leadership of the state — the governor and the speaker of the House of Representatives — led it that way,” Watkins said. “They saw the need for this garage. It was their choice to help him in this way.
In February, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors approved the garage’s general concept and voted to move forward with the legislation.
“We have a few loose ends with the county regarding the structure of the loan agreement,” he said. “After that, the design phase will begin, and then construction, which will take six to nine months.”
Hinds County will own the garage once it is completed, Watkins said.
“It will be the county’s long-term asset,” he said. “We have no interest in owning the garage.”
Plans call for a professional management company to lease and operate the garage, Watkins said. As is the case in many cities, drivers will pay a fee to park in the garage.