In August, the Greater Jackson Arts Council announced a search for an artist to paint an 84-by-34-foot mural that welcomes visitors to Jackson. The organization wanted to have the mural, which is in honor of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History, painted on the side of the Gadow Tyler Law Office on Pearl Street downtown.
"We have lots of hand-painted signage and other art projects here in Jackson, but nothing like this," Allen told BOOM Jackson.
"I decided I wanted to focus on typography for this project and give it a bright, bold southern color palette. I figured bold block letters and a 'less is more' approach would be the way to go. I want this be something that changes the cityscape and adds character to Jackson. The city looks different with this mural in the foreground, and I hope it changes the perception of how people see downtown and brands the area as something uniquely Jackson."
The mural was completed on Nov. 13, and the two museums open downtown on Dec. 9.
Hope Opens at Provine High School
Jackson Public Schools and Alignment Jackson held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Hope Credit Union branch at Provine High School on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The facility, which is the first student-run credit union branch in Jackson, has been in development since 2014.
Alignment Jackson, a nonprofit United Way affiliate that works with JPS to improve student achievement, helped establish the Hope branch to give students real-world financial experience. About 80 students are working on the branch as part of Provine's Capstone and Odysseyware courses.
Faculty and staff can open accounts at the Provine Hope branch two days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students 18 and older can also open accounts. Hope will provide financial literacy counseling to students, faculty and staff as part of the program.
The District's Food Hall
The District at Eastover has announced that a food hall, Eastover Market, is coming to the multipurpose development in spring 2018. A food hall is a large section of a retail site, such as a department store, that is dedicated to selling artisanal and boutique-style foods.
Eastover Market is a joint development with New Orleans food hall St. Roch Market, which opened in 2014. Eastover Market will occupy an 8,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of The District's BankPlus building.
The market will include eight food and beverage concepts and a craft cocktail bar, and will also be available as an event venue. Construction will begin in late 2017. The food hall joins other new restaurants in The District.
Edison Walthall Headed Back
The Edison Walthall hotel, which closed in 2010, will soon see revitalization. Harris Building Solutions LLC began construction on the building and parking structure in October after the Jackson City Council passed an ordinance on Oct. 10, allowing the developers to avoid elevating the parking structure by 18 inches in accordance with Jackson's floodplain code.
The Edison Walthall project will include 155 loft apartments on the second through eighth floors of the hotel. Harris Building Solutions plans to convert former hotel rooms into one-bedroom studio apartments as part of the reconstruction. At press time, the project did not yet have a finish date.
The Heritage Hospitality Group began demolishing buildings in Fondren on Sept. 21 to make room for a 125-room Hilton Homewood Suites Hotel, starting with the famed yellow "Fondren House" in the heart of the Downtown Fondren Historic District. The demolition of the house, which dates to the early 1900s and housed descendants of neighborhood namesake David Fondren Jr., came less than 36 hours after hotel partner Alan Lange told area residents that the house would be the last property considered for demolition during an informational meeting.
Developers later demolished the duplex apartments near Fondren House and tore down the building that once housed Que Sera Sera and Green Ghost Tacos on Oct. 3.
Hotel Investor Chico Patel said at the Sept. 19 meeting that demolition would take approximately two to four weeks, and full-speed construction will start around January. He added that once the foundation is in place, construction will take about 12 to 13 months.
MMA Renovates for Bicentennial Celebration
In preparation for the state's bicentennial and the grand opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History on Dec. 9-10, the Mississippi Museum of Art is making renovations to its permanent art gallery, "Mississippi Story." The museum temporarily de-installed "Mississippi Story" to make way for an art gallery titled "Picturing Mississippi, 1817-2017: Land of Plenty, Pain and Promise."
"Picturing Mississippi" will be free and open to the public and will feature more than 175 works by 100 or so artists. The works are on loan from private collectors and institutions like the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
"Picturing Mississippi is going to look at all the good, the bad and the ugly of our state's history over the centuries," Julian Rankin, director of art and public exchange for the museum, told BOOM Jackson. "We hope it will help visitors look honestly at our past as a state and think about what we want the future to be."
Some of the artists in the gallery include Walter Anderson, Mildred Wolfe and Eudora Welty, along with pieces such as Andy Warhol's "Triple Elvis" from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The gallery will run until July 2018. Afterward, the museum will host a public discussion for a new permanent collection, Rankin said.
Northpark Undergoing Renovations
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Northpark Mall (1200 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland) announced that it would be undergoing renovations starting in early 2018. The renovations to the two-story, 958,000-square-foot building include changes to the entrances, food court, children's play area, restrooms, interior and exterior landscaping, furniture, lighting, common areas and more.
"This is going to be a complete upgrade to bring Northpark Mall up to 21st-century design standards," Northpark Marketing Coordinator Christy Campbell told the Jackson Free Press. "The mall hasn't been updated since 1998, and after this renovation is finished, visitors will be able to look forward to a modern, upscale Northpark. We want people to be able to enjoy Northpark as a hub for community gathering."
The mall will remain open throughout the redevelopment, and Northpark expects the renovations to be completed by November 2018. For more information, visit northparkmall.com or find the business on Facebook.
UMMC Opens Research Center
On Friday, Nov. 10, the University of Mississippi Medical Center held a ribbon-cutting for its new Translational Research Center.
A press statement from UMMC says that the building is "designed to help researchers translate scientific discoveries into therapeutic interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public, covering a continuum from discovery to recovery."
"The opening of this building marks the end of a lot of hard work on the part of many people in the UMMC research mission who have been involved in its planning and design and the shepherding of its actual creation," Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Richard Summers said in the release.
The facility will house UMMC's MIND Center, the John D. Bower School of Population Health and the UMMC Neuro Institute. The top floors will have incubator space for medical researchers, and the building's basement will house laboratory animal facilities.
Smith Park Restoration Entering Phase II
On Nov. 13, city officials and downtown entities such as Downtown Jackson Partners announced that Smith Park renovations are now entering phase two. This phase calls for the removal of the downtown park's dilapidated concrete waterways, re-sodding the grass to create a more open and level green space, and more. Phase two will take about two months to complete, during which the park will be closed to the public.
The City of Jackson partnered with Downtown Jackson Partners and volunteer group Friends of Smith Park.
"This project is symbolic of the renaissance occurring in downtown Jackson," Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said in a Downtown Jackson Partners release. When completed, Smith Park will be a world-class green space for all of Jackson and the state to enjoy.
The project will cost a total of $2.5 million, and phase two will cost $100,000. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History had to approve project plans, as Smith Park is a state historic landmark.
Phase one, which happened in 2016, consisted of removing dead and dying trees, and ones that were unsuitable for long-term growth. Phase three will consist of redesigning the open space with landscaped walkways, a modern stage, a water pad and a playground.
The release says that Smith Park is one of the oldest continually used parks in America, and it is the only surviving undeveloped square from the original 1822 plan for what was then Mississippi's new capital. The park was named after Scottish merchant and Jackson transplant James Smith Jr., who donated funds to improve the park in 1884. For more information about the restoration, visit downtown-jackson.com.
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