New airport development in the works

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Plans to build a major shopping center on Jackson airport property are likely dead, but another project could soon be taking off.

Developers of the Pinelands Lifestyle Center failed to enter into an agreement with the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) to lease approximately 130 acres near the Lakeland Drive and Airport Road intersection in Flowood.

The firm, Freedom Real Estate, was given an option to lease the acreage in December 2015, and two extensions after that. The final extension ran out in February.

Since then, JMAA has taken steps to better market its available property and is currently in talks with one developer hoping to build on approximately 30 acres near the East Metro Parkway.

JMAA Chief Executive Officer Carl Newman wouldn’t say who his agency was working with, but said the firm is in the aviation field.

“We are an airport and the land we’re talking about (has been set aside for) aviation, so it’s an aviation-related entity,” he said.

JMAA oversees the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, which sits on about 3,300 acres of land in Rankin County.

Newman said discussions were still in the early stages and didn’t know when a decision on leasing the site could be reached.

“By the end of the year, we’ll certainly know where it’s headed,” he said.

Developers are eyeing a roughly 30-acre site on the northwest side of the Jackson-Evers near the East Metro corridor.

The property is located near the airport’s main runway.

 

As for the 130 acres previously under option by Freedom, that acreage is again available for lease.

In December 2015, JMAA announced that Freedom was planning to build a $165 million mixed-use development on the site, which is located behind a shopping center at the corner of Lakeland Drive and Airport Road.

The development was to have a mix of retail and professional space and be between 350,000 and 500,000 square feet. Newman told the Sun previously that the builders had even named several major tenants expected to locate there.

On top of that, the Slidell, La.-based company had applied for and received nearly $49 million in cultural retail attraction credits to build the center.

JMAA gave Freedom a 270-day option to lease, followed by two extensions. The last extension ended on February 19.

“I’m not going to tell you that the project is dead, but it’s been a while since I’ve heard anything from the developer,” Newman said.

He said no more extensions on the property will be granted. “They would need to come back to us and start fresh to get something going,” he said. 

He referred further questions to the developer. The Sun contacted Freedom but was unable to leave a voice mail.

Even though the lease to option fell through, JMAA didn’t walk away empty-handed.

Under terms of the agreement, Freedom had to pay JMAA $25,000 and conduct an environmental assessment of the property.

Newman said data from that assessment will be used by the airport to attract other clients to the site.

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