A significant addition to the downtown Jackson renaissance is the relocation of Innovation Mississippi, a technology and startup-centered nonprofit, to the historic strip known as Spengler's Corner on State Street across the street from the Old Capitol Museum. The strip is also called the Mississippi Innovation Hub and includes businesses such as Thimblepress and Seabold Architecture Studio.
"We are looking forward to this next step for Innovate Mississippi," Tony Jeff, the president and chief executive officer of Innovate Mississippi, said in a statement to the media.
"We believe that being part of downtown and readily accessible to the startup community is vital to the technological growth for the innovators of our state. Innovate Mississippi works with technology-based companies on growth and stability while helping them to maintain Mississippi as their home base. We feel that a central accessible location is vital to maintain this growth and collaboration."
Innovate Mississippi moved into the business strip with Coalesce, which will continue to host local networking events such as the 1 Million Cups weekly meetings, which meet at 9 a.m. most Wednesdays.
Capitol Art Lofts Underway
New Orleans-based developer HRI Properties Inc. has started construction on the long-awaited Capitol Art Lofts in downtown
Jackson near the King Edward Hotel.
Joshua Collen, senior vice president for development services for the New Orleans-based company, said in a September release that the project should be completed by late 2017.
Of the 31 planned apartments, 26 will be for people who earn less than 60 percent of the median area income, the Mississippi Business Journal reported. That is a result of the tax credits the developers used to build the $10-million project.
The other five apartments will be for those whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the median area income.
The project could revitalize the historic west Capitol area, once known for its iconic art-deco architecture. HRI also renovated the King Edward Hotel, across the street from Capitol Art Lofts.
Fondren continues to expand with the addition of The Meridian, directly across from the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus on Lakeland Drive.
The apartments offer medical students, who had an advance opportunity to reserve their spots, and Jacksonians the ability to live in the Fondren area in a more urban-type residential setting. The floor plans range from one- to three-bedroom options, some with balconies overlooking the pool space in the center of the complex. The apartments also have studio apartments available.
The Meridian is currently accepting applications.
Whitney Place, Remade
The City of Jackson recently authorized more tax credits for The Whitney, a hotel project in the Fondren district that would open onto North State Street, but a scaled-down version of an earlier plan.
Mike Davis of the City's economic-development department explained that the 111-room hotel had a quick timeline, and he expects the developers to be through with their permitting process in the next few months. He said they were expected to "go vertical" with the project, and that it would be completed within 14 to 18 months.
The City is reimbursing the Whitney Place project through tax credits in the amount of $2.1 million, which the city council approved unanimously.
Continentalis First Contracts
The Continental Tire Plant in Hinds County outside Clinton has hired its first contractors in the beginning steps of a project that is set to take until 2018 to complete and has a total investment of $236 million in bonds to assist the construction process.
Recently, the Germany-based company started the process of selecting companies to handle the grubbing and clearing of the almost-1,000-acre lot. Continental has promised that the $1.45-billion plant will bring more than 2,500 jobs to the area over the next decade. So far, Continental has hired a Mississippi accountant and an on-site construction manager.
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors recently authorized the design and implementation of a consortium of county businesses to help promote native companies in the competition for the Continental contracts.
'One Lake' Report Soon
Combining development with an effort to curb the looming danger of flooding in the Pearl River basin continues as supporters of the "One Lake" project along the Pearl River research the pros and cons of each of several plans put forth.
One Lake is the brain-child of a nonprofit organization called the Pearl River Vision Foundation, which local oil magnate John McGowan created and invested in after shelving his controversial vision for a larger "Two Lakes" development that ran into environmental, eminent-domain and cost hurdles.
The foundation now works hand-in-hand with its partner, the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District. The Levee Board, as it is called, is a public entity made up of metro-area area mayors, including Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber, and county and state representatives.
In order to qualify for federal-assistance dollars to fund the project, set to cost around $300 million, the foundation has studied the potential effects of allowing the river to widen out and create a large "lake" downstream from the Ross Barnett Reservoir to use as a recreational body of water that can also hold flood waters.
If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that governs all waterway construction and maintenance, approves the foundation's study, it still needs public input. The foundation plans to present it at several town-hall meetings, some in Jackson and some downstream. The foundation must overcome concerns downstream that reduction of water flow could harm fragile Delta ecosystems, including the oyster industry in Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish.
Pearl River Vision Foundation representatives say they expect the report to be completed in the next several months, but even if they get approval for the federal funds, it will only reach about half of the necessary $300 million.
Airport Renovating Runway
The Jackson Medgar-Evers Wiley International Airport received more than $17 million in federal infrastructure grants to address runway conditions in both the main airport east of Jackson and the inner-city Hawkins Field
The Federal Aviation Administration awarded the grants as a part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems initiative, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation contributed the matching 10-percent funds necessary for the airport to receive the grants.
A release from the airport administration explains that the majority, $17,216,361, will pay to resurface the west runway at the main airport, along with portions of parallel taxiway. Around $350,000 will go to Hawkins Field, specifically for resurfacing the airport parking apron (the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, loaded and unloaded, refueled or boarded) adjacent to the aging historic terminal building at the smaller airport.
The work at Hawkins is expected to begin as early as November 2016, while the larger and more extensive work at the international airport is set to begin in early 2017.
Email city reporter Tim Summers Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org. See more local news at jfp.ms/localnews.