Monday, August 30, 2010
A group of downtown residents are questioning if a proposed liquor store in the Old Capitol Green mixed-use district meets sustainable building requirements.
Last week, Jackson Downtown Neighborhood Association President Matt Eichelberger met with business owner Sumerjit Singh about plans to build a liquor store addition onto his Shell station located on the corner of South and State streets. Before Singh submits his plans to the city's zoning board, neighbors want to make sure his business adheres to the development's zoning district.
"The JDNA is going to review the plans that (Singh) has submitted, and then we will have some sort of stance on it at that time. We expressed our concerns that we don't have enough information to be for it or against it," Eichelberger said. "... Old Capitol Green is a green project, and we want to make sure that this addition to the gas station is in line with that."
A few years ago, the city of Jackson approved a zoning ordinance for the 50-acre district that spans 14 blocks along Commerce Street between Pearl and Silas Brown streets. The district requires that all new developments, and major renovations adhere to Old Capitol Green Sustainable Design Guidelines.
Malcolm Shepherd, development director for Full Spectrum South, said the district is divided into five zones that strive to meet the U.S. Green Building Counsel's LEED designation for Neighborhood Development. The designation is awarded through the counsel's rating system, which encourages that neighborhoods meet smart growth by reducing the number of vehicles in the area, creating services that are accessible by foot or public transportation, and ensuring sustainable and green infrastructure.
"Basically, what the design guidelines say is that: We aren't going to tell you how your building should look, but we will tell you how your building should function," Shepherd said. "Because of the designation we are after, we are after sustainable, energy efficient and green buildings throughout Old Capitol Green."
Shepherd said that he doesn't see this as a way to detour new businesses from locating downtown, but it's a way to hold Jackson to higher standards.
"The opportunity to receive economic benefits comes from the fact that a lot of people see the area, as an area to be in. There is a reason there isn't a lot of retail in downtown Jackson and that's connected directly to the number of residential units you have there," he said. "We want to put 4,200 residential units eventually. That is a lot of people living in a concentrated area anywhere. The retailers are a reflection of the opportunity of people actually living there."
Singh referred questions to his attorney Ross Barnett Jr., who was not immediately available for comment.
Eichelberger said the JDNA will continue to work with Singh and other potential downtown developments.
"We certainly want a liquor store downtown," Eichelberger said. "This isn't about not wanting a liquor store. We would love to have that available to us in this area, however, we have to make sure it's going to fit in with the neighborhood."