Two buildings once vacant at the northeast corner Old Canton Road and Northtown Drive in Jackson have received new life and another one nearby got a facelift.
ExtraSpaceStorage sits where Jitney Premier once made a splash as a grocery store. Fred’s and Surplus Warehouse last occupied the space after the Jitney closed.
Northtown Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy, opened in June in the former Regions Bank building, and the nearby Back Yard Burgers has a fresh look thanks to a remodel.
Snowbiz of Mississippi, which seems to always have a line of customers at its drive-through, takes up the space next to ExtraSpaceStorage that once held a dry cleaner.
Finding new purposes for vacant buildings renews life in an area, said Nancy Lane of Lane-Harkins Commercial Real Estate.
“People don’t invest in an area where they’re not going to get a return on their investment,” she said, noting that the Jackson Country Club is a short drive.
A single investment in a block often leads to other investments, Lane said. “That block can be the toehold for additional development,” she said.
A warehouse such as ExtraSpaceStorage is a good use of the former grocery store, Lane said. Grocery stores typically have high ceilings and about half of the air conditioning of other retailers since they rely on recirculating cold air from open refrigeration.
Harkins, who worked for 18 years in real estate for McCarty-Holman, the Jackson-based parent company of Jitney Jungle grocery stores, recalled bagging groceries, as was the tradition for the company’s executives, at the opening of Jitney Premier.
She later had the real estate listing when Surplus Warehouse and Fred’s moved into the space.
Donna Orkin, a resident of Northpointe subdivision, didn’t expect to need extra storage but did so after ExtraSpaceStorage opened.
“Within two weeks after it opened, we had to use it,” she said. “I had a water leak in the den, the flooring had to be replaced and all of the furniture had to be packed up and moved and stored. It was so convenient to have that right across the street.”
Orkin said her husband, Ted, has used StorageMax Northtown, which is located on Northtown Drive, for his office needs.
Besides storage, Orkin has found another use for the new storage facility: “It’s a good landmark to tell people where you live.”
Andrew Clark, pharmacist and owner of Northtown Pharmacy, said he sought the former Regions Bank building as the location for his pharmacy for several reasons.
“I’ve been living in northeast Jackson for the last 15 years,” he said. “I live right down the street. My kids go to Jackson public schools and my wife works in Jackson public schools. I wanted to open an independent pharmacy in Jackson.
“I feel the location is good because of accessibility since it’s right on the corner of Northtown Drive and Old Canton Road.”
Another plus, he said, was the lack of a pharmacy in the immediate area.
“The situation was the two pharmacies in the area had left,” he said. “Rite Aid, which was located across the street, closed and Fred’s Pharmacy, which was located in what’s now the storage facility, closed.”
The former bank branch location offered some unique features that include a four-lane drive-through and a vault.
“I can think of no other pharmacy that has a four-lane drive-through,” he said. “It has come in handy during COVID especially at the time when I was opening when a lot of people were not going into retail settings but doing curbside pickup. It is also handy during inclement weather you don’t want to get out and for people with mobility issues.”
The vault, still in place from the days when it was needed by the bank, stores packages customers order on Amazon and have shipped there. The pharmacy is an Amazon hub where customers can pick up packages.
Clark said two weeks after the former bank branch closed on June 5, 2020, he walked into the building to check it out and he managed to open his business about a year later. “My doors opened on June 1, 2021,” he said.
Clark watched construction on the storage facility at the same time he saw the bank branch remodeled as a pharmacy.
He also kept an eye on the remodeling, landscaping and addition of new signage at Back Yard Burgers.
Orkin said it’s good for the city that the once vacant buildings are filled.
“It’s not good for large pieces of real estate to be vacant,” she said. “Now there is something there that will add to the tax base of city of Jackson. The city really needs that.”