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Parking plans underway in Fondren; Senate approves $20 million

Developers in the Fondren Entertainment District are drawing up plans for the parking lot that will be built behind The Pearl tiki bar, Highball Lanes bowling alley and the Capri Theatre.

Jason Watkins and David Pharr, the Northeast Jackson residents who started the Fondren Entertainment District business, said they were handling plans for the garage because there is land available related to their development and that they have an established business relationship with a contractor, which should make construction as efficient and affordable as possible.

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.

Supervisors will be responsible for loan repayment, Watkin said. Revenue from drivers paying to use the garage and fees paid by residents of a planned apartment complex will go to Hinds County to pay for the loan, he said.

“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 take ownership of the garage upon completion, 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.

The exact location of the garage, which is estimated to be worth $13 million, has not been identified except behind the entertainment district, Pharr said.

Pharr and Watkins are working with a consultant who specializes in parking garages, who advised that a garage that can hold 500 vehicles would be the right size to accommodate area businesses and allow for future growth in the area.

Watkins hopes the garage will be ready for use by the end of 2022.

In a state where drivers value the convenience of front door parking, Pharr believes drivers will use the garage because it will provide an alternative to driving around the block and looking for an open parking space.

“We think people will appreciate the predictability and security of parking,” he said. An armed security guard patrols in front of the Quartier des spectacles in Fondren and another in the back of the Quartier des spectacles.

Nathan Glenn, owner of Rooster’s and Basil’s restaurants in the Fondren Corner Building, welcomes the extra parking.

“Parking is the only thing everyone complains about in Fondren,” he said. “Any additional parking would be fine. I think it will be good for the whole region.

Parking would also be beneficial when there are events in Fondren and parking is scarce, he said.

Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins