Thursday, June 23, 2011
CORRECTION: Jackson Free Press reporter Adam Lynch wrongfully stated that the Jackson Redevelopment Authority is offering a potential site for the future Mississippi Civil Rights Museum to the Department of Finance for free. While the JRA is definitely offering the property for DFA use, JRA Executive Director Jason Brookins said the quasi-government entity is only offering the property at a "fair" undisclosed price. We regret the misinformation.
CORRECTION 2, added July 27, 2011: Lynch, now a former reporter for the JFP, also reported that JRA approved a $29 million bond for construction of a 880 car parking garage. JRA is in the process of drafting a term sheet for potentially issuing bonds to the Old Capitol Green developers but have not approved any bonds at this time. We apologize for this additional error to this story.
At its meeting yesterday, the Jackson Redevelopment Authority announced it is offering property near Farish Street to be the site of Mississippi's proposed civil-rights museum. It also approved a construction bond for a new automated parking garage in downtown Jackson.
"In my mind, there's still some question as to where in downtown Jackson the civil-rights museum would go," said JRA Chairman Ronnie Crudup, speaking of the proposed sale of property to the state. "I thought it would be a good thing if this board sent a letter to the Department of Finance and Administration offering our piece of property as a place for that building."
The proposed location sits at the corner of Mill and Hamilton streets and backs up against the Alamo Theater on Farish Street. David Watkins, Farish Street Entertainment District developer, earlier endorsed placing the museum either in or near the district, saying its historic nature squares well with the intent of the museum. While Watkins pays JRA to lease the property for his projects on Farish Street, the JRA is offering the museum property to the state for free.
In April, state legislators set aside $20 million for the civil-rights museum and $18 million for the Mississippi history museum after Gov. Haley Barbour called a special session to get the museums funded. Legislators failed to fund the museums during their regular session, partially because politicians could not agree on a location.
The bill earning the governor's signature in April names Jackson as the city for the museums, but does not name a specific site.
The JRA also approved a $29 million bond yesterday for the construction of a $27 million 880-car parking garage and an adjoining $4 million multiple-building chiller near Hal & Mal's Restaurant. Developer Full Spectrum Inc. says it can begin construction 45 days after JRA attorneys sign off on the bond. With attorneys expected to finalize the procedure within 30 days, developers could break ground on the project in September.
The garage uses robot valets to retrieve vehicles within six minutes, and requires minimum space and electricity, because humans only see a small portion of the structure. Full Spectrum has already committed 500 parking spaces to a commercial building it is constructing along with the garage, and anticipates residents of a proposed apartment building to claim another 180 spaces.
Malcolm Shepherd, Full Spectrum development director, told the JRA yesterday that the company has commitments of $40 million for the adjoining commercial building through the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust, and another $60 million for the residential building through a Section 221 HUD loan and New Market Tax Credits.
The parking garage and the two buildings are the first steps in a larger $1 billion build-out that could stretch the length of Jefferson Street in downtown. In anticipation of impending construction, JRA members also voted yesterday to advise the Jackson City Council to expand the Central Business District and the Urban Renewal Area from Jefferson Street to the Hinds County border at Pearl River.
Jason Brookins, JRA executive director, said the extension would allow the board to provide some development incentives for the east side of Jefferson Street.
Smart move by JRA in offering the land for free, it will benefit farish street and vice versa, convention goers will be a short walk away from the civil rights museum and it will be closer to the train station and the king Edward hotel. Now only if the state leave it's ego at the door, idk if free land will do the trick.
I thought it was going to be located off county line road near Ridgeland. If not there then the present place appears to be a great location. We will build our own monument. If we build it they will come.
We've posted a correction above on this story, which we were just told about today. I want to add something, though: I just listened to Adam's recording of the JRA conversation about this, and it does sound like JRA board members said it was going to be offered for free.
I have just posted an additional correction to the above story. We did not learn about this error until today. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for both errors in this story.