Hinds Community College and the Metrocenter Mall began renovations on March 29 to turn a 189,000-square-foot space in the southeast corner of the mall, which once housed Belk and the McRae's department, into a "Comprehensive One-Stop Center." The center will offer career-technical and workforce training programs for both high-tech training and middle-skill education. The renovations will take about six months.
The center will also offer services such as a job search program, unemployment-insurance benefits assistance, on-the-job training opportunities and more.
The Ecoshed to Virden Addition
The Virden Addition Industrial Complex in Jackson will be home to a combination small business incubator, event and sustainable food-growing space when construction for The Ecoshed finishes in late 2019.
"We're currently doing crowdfunding for the project through small projects," Travis Crabtree, who co-owns The Ecoshed with Salam Rida, told the Jackson Free Press. "Our plan is to make videos for a Kickstarter campaign to display our vision for the project and gather investments."
Crabtree and Rida plan for The Ecoshed to serve as a space for demonstrating sustainable food and environmental practices that could be used elsewhere in Jackson. The Ecoshed will have a system to capture rainwater to make a cistern for growing food, and will also have a roof completely covered in solar panels for power and to reduce heat inside the structure.
The first project to raise money and awareness for the Ecoshed will be a June 22 concert called Summer Camp featuring 21 bands performing over two days. Crabtree said The Ecoshed will remove the roof to create an open-air venue, and will also bring in large shipping containers that serve as an impromptu bar, art exhibition space and stage. For information visit carbonoffice.net.
Smith Park Reopens
Smith Park in downtown Jackson reopened Friday, April 13, after being closed for renovations since November 2017. The park has fresh sod, a new stage floor in the center of the park, 26 refurbished park benches and more green space after the renovations filled in a creek bed at the edge of the park. The City hosted a ribbon-cutting for the refurbished park as part of Food Truck Friday that day.
New Trade Mart Opens
The Mississippi Fair Commission held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Mississippi Trade Mart on Thursday, March 8. The Legislature authorized $30 million to build the new Trade Mart and to make improvements to the Mississippi State Fairgrounds.
Jackson architectural firm Wier Boerner Allin Architecture designed the new building, and Jackson-based Fountain Construction is the general contractor.
Cindy Hyde-Smith, former state commissioner of agriculture and commerce and now a U.S. senator, announced the building project in November 2017. The new 105,000-square-foot facility will be attached to the east side of the Mississippi Coliseum and replace the current Trade Mart, which was constructed in 1975.
Hyde-Smith said in January 2017 that the building was outmoded, had a flat roof that leaked and would need to be demolished. The current Mississippi Trade Mart will remain in operation until the new facility is completed in late 2019 to early 2020.
Food Hall Coming to District
On April 24, The District at Eastover on announced the first four vendors for its Cultivation Food Hall—a location that offers a mix of local chef-driven food concepts in one place—which will open this summer. Cultivation is a joint development with New Orleans-based St. Roch Market, which opened in 2014, and is modeled after its New Orleans counterpart.
The four vendors announced are Fete au Fete StrEATery, Local Honey, Poke Stop and Whisk, a creperie by La Brioche. The food hall will include four other vendors by the time it opens, as well as a cocktail bar.
Cultivation is an 8,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of the BankPlus Building. For more information, visit cultivation
In early May, the Leisure and Recreation District Ordinance, also known as the "go cup" ordinance went into effect. Now, visitors at The District can now take alcoholic beverages out of restaurants and drink them on the District Green. The drinks must have a restaurant insignia on them. Cantina Laredo and Fine & Dandy have "go cups," and Cultivation Food Hall will off them when the business opens. For more information, visit thedistrictateastover.com.
Corner Market in Downtown
The Landmark Center on Capital Street will bring a new grocery store to downtown Jackson when redevelopment of the 366,000-square-foot building is complete. Corner Market, a full-service deli that Hattiesburg-based Robert Co. owns, will open a 17,500-square-foot store with indoor seating.
Roberts Co., which owns eight Corner Market locations in Mississippi, signed a 10-year lease with Weinstein Nelson Management of Baton Rouge, the company that is managing and directing the Landmark Center's redevelopment. Construction is set to begin within the next two months and is scheduled to be completed by 2020. Roberts Co. also owns Mississippi chains Grocery Depot and Sunflower.
AT&T, the Landmark Center's original owner, moved out in 2012. The University of Mississippi Medical Center withdrew from a plan to use the building in 2014, and the state Department of Revenue later passed on relocating inside the building in favor of a site in Clinton. WN Management eventually acquired the building and announced a plan to build 200 apartments inside the center in 2016.
Fondren Sidewalk Project Moves Along
In January, the city of Jackson began construction for the Fondren Streetscape Project, a remodeling of the neighborhood that will reconstruct sidewalks throughout the Fondren Business District. The district includes parts of Old Canton Road, North State Street, Fondren Place and Duling Avenue.
When the project is complete, the neighborhood will have new sidewalks with curb ramps that meet current requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and changes to traffic signals at intersections to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility. The neighborhood will also receive new landscaping and signage, bicycle racks, sidewalk accents, a new transit shelter and changes to Fondren's drainage system.
Charles Williams, engineering manager for the Jackson Department of Public Works, told the Jackson Free Press that teams of work crews are currently installing new sidewalks along Old Canton Road and Duling Avenue and will move on to State Street within the next few weeks. Work on the new landscaping and signage will begin after the sidewalks and finished and should begin within two months.
"We're starting to see a lot more pedestrians walking in the area along State Street and near the restaurant on Duling Avenue, and the improvements will bring a tremendous for foot traffic there," Williams said. "It's exciting to see that the grants we needed from MDOT came through and that things are coming along."
Refill Cafe in Former Koinonia Space
When Koinonia closed in June 2016, it left a hole in the west Jackson community. But soon, the Refill Cafe plans to take its place. Around the time Lee Harper opened Koinonia in June 2008, a group of people at St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral began to work on plans for a cafe that would double as a workforce training site.
The group secured some initial funding, but after not finding a location, the project stalled. A couple of years before Koinonia closed, former project member Grady Griffin brought the idea to Soul City Hospitality, the group behind Up in Farms Food Hub. The organization decided to create a nonprofit that would focus on workforce training and development for people in the local food industry.
That idea has now turned into Refill Cafe, which Soul City expects to open in fall 2018. The business will have a restaurant and retail arm with training stations for program participants. Refill's website says the group wants to make sure participants are set up for success once they complete the program, so it will offer social-service and educational support, mentoring and employment services.
Currently, Refill Cafe is accepting donations. In the interim, Refill will still host Friday Forum in the space. For more information, visit refillcafejackson.com.
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