City May Help Fund Convention Center Hotel


Mayor Harvey Johnson urges residents to add their information to the CodeRED database.

The city could enter a cost-sharing agreement with developers of the Capital City Center, a mixed-use development project on four blocks of Pascagoula Street that will include a convention center hotel, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. confirmed today.

Johnson announced at a city council work session that he would present an executive study on the development to city council members during Tuesday's meeting. Johnson said the presentation would occur in executive session because of "confidential matters."

"I think this is going to bode well for us in the long run, because it will gives us the convention center hotel," Johnson told The Jackson Free Press Monday. "And I can tell you that there are projections that this will increase business of the convention center by 30 percent. ... The city needs to be involved in the deal so that (the developer) can finance it. We are seeking to counsel them and apprise the council about the level of involvement."

Johnson said he could not release details of the deal until he presented it to the city council, and the Jackson Free Press has requested a more specific reason for the executive session.

In 2006, Mark Small, president of the Dallas-based development firm MJS realty, submitted a bid proposal for the ambitious $209 million project to the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, claiming it would drive economic development and change the landscape of downtown Jackson.

Small said the development would be transformed into a mixed-used development, officially named the Capital City Center consisting of two hotels, residential, retail and office space. The current plan entails a 19-story Crowne Plaza Hotel with 300 guest rooms, a 175-room Staybridge Suites Hotel, a 1,500-car garage, skywalks linking the hotels with the convention complex, a 200-unit "luxury" apartment building and a 150-unit independent senior living complex.

Initially, Small estimated the project would be complete in February 2009, in time to accompany the grand opening of the $64 million convention center. In January, when the convention center marked its one-year anniversary, executive director Linda McCarthy expressed the need for more infrastructure and hotel space to accompany larger event functions, admitting she was uncertain about the status of City Center development.

"The King Edward has helped, but once the Convention Center hotel opens, we can bring larger business into this city. You have to have all pieces of the puzzle: entertainment, hotel rooms, and parking capacity. It's great that we have the space, but there are so many pieces that go with that and we are getting there," McCarthy said.

Michael Cory, an attorney representing Small, said in March that the project met financial obstacles due to the current lending market but assured that the project was still a reality.

"In the current credit market it's very difficult, to say the least, to get a project of that scope done in a downtown area," he said. "It's an ambitious project to jumpstart downtown Jackson."

Watch for updates Tuesday, as well as a longer story about the history of this project in the print edition this week.


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