City meeting with potential firms to developed Jackson Convention Complex area

By ANTHONY WARREN,

A hotel, entertainment venue and parking garage could soon be a reality across from the Jackson Convention Complex.

The city recently began talks with two firms that it hopes will develop the roughly eight-acre site across from the center.

News comes months after the city issued a second request for proposals to develop the site, and months after two groups submitted proposals.

The plans were evaluated by a team of city officials, who chose to continue discussions with Advanced Technology Building Solutions and Summit Smith Developers.

Director of Planning and Development Mukesh Kumar said negotiations will likely take several months and will require the involvement of experts from various fields, including legal, financial and planning.

“It’s a very involved process,” he said. “It may take a bit of time.”

If chosen, the Jackson, Miss. and Milwaukee-based firms will serve as master developer for the 7.75-acre site and will oversee a project that calls for constructing a 160,000-square foot hotel, 500,000-square-foot parking garage and 150,000 square feet of entertainment and event space.

The city is bringing on the developer as part of a repayment agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Years ago, Jackson used nearly $7 million in HUD loans to purchase the acreage across from the convention center to build a convention center hotel.

The idea was Jackson would repay the debt from proceeds from the development.

However, numerous efforts to develop the site have fallen through.

HUD called the loan in 2017 because the property had not been developed.

As part of a repayment agreement, the Lumumba administration agreed to hire a consultant to determine the best use of the property, and then bring on a firm to develop it.

Hunden Strategic Solutions drew up plans for the property in 2018, after conducting a market assessment of the downtown Jackson area.

The city then issued a request for proposals seeking a “master developer” for the site. Initial bids were rejected, and an RFP was reissued earlier this year.

In addition to the hotel, parking garage and entertainment space, the development must also include 50,000 square feet of office space, 90,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 500,000 square feet of residential.

The property is located on Pascagoula Street across from the convention complex. The acreage is characterized by large concrete slabs and is used for parking for convention center events.

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