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tombarnes

Capital Center- Mixed-Use Project

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Proposal Touts Two Hotels

A proposal for two hotels near the Capital City Convention Center would bring at least 450 rooms to downtown Jackson. The idea of having several hotels near the convention center makes a lot of sense. I wish there were more about the proposal in the article below. I expect we may be hearing a lot more about this project presently. Texas billionaire Gene Phillips is involved in this. It remains to be seen whether or not this connection will be fortuitous.

The Clarion-Ledger

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The proposal includes more than just two hotels. According to the article, other features of the project include:

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Ok, so I focus on the hotels too much! ;) Yes, the project looks great for downtown Jackson. I'd love to see a rendering or two of this. The Standard Life Building project is indeed separate and would likely be developed by HRI.

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TCI/Mark Small Win Hotel Contract

In a move which may not prove to be the best for the city, the Jackson Redevelopment Authority has signed a letter if intent to proceed with the TCI Group of Dallas. This group is headed by Mark Small, but its ties to billionaire investor Gene Phillips, a friend of Mr. Melton's, may possibly spell trouble down the road. In the meantime, I hope a few renderings of the project will be released. As noted in the posts above, the $180m+ project is slated to include a parking garage, apartments and retail shops in addition to the two hotels.

The Clarion Ledger

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Not only does it sound like they want to move, but they want to move fast. I'm interested in seeing a rendering also.

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Property Acquisition In Full Swing

Mark Small of TCI says he's in the process of acquiring property in the three blocks needed to build the hotels and other amenities associated with the new convention center. Supposedly, "the architects will be turned loose on the design" within the next few months. It appears that the long-established Lamar Restaurant may disappear in the shuffle, though negotiations are ongoing. I really need to sit down and study which properties are being affected by this development. It's extremely important for Jackson, but I'd hate to see too much swept away in the process. Can anyone think of any important or historic (or even interesting) buildings on the site of the project?

The Clarion-Ledger

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Tombarnes, there is nothing there of any significant historical or architectural value. Across the street from the Standard Life building is an old wholesale warehouse, but it is a very plain and non-descript structure that housed a portion of the JPD while their headquarters building was under renovation. It's just an old ugly box. A block east is another old warehouse that the roof has fallen in on - definitely not worth saving. A couple of other buildings further east are still in use, but are just crap architecturally.

I'm a big believer in preservation of old structures and buildings, but it is my humble opinion that the entire site should be cleared and redeveloped. There is nothing worth saving with exception of the Lamar Restaurant sign. If that sign is not worked into the new scheme, I will be very disappointed. The restaurant itself is of some interest, but it needed updating and refurbishment anyway. It's one of three of our old Greek restaurants left downtown. Once there were many.

Lamar street used to be a narrow very dense street from Griffith Street to Pascagoula Street and had a great vibe when I was a kid. There were a good many neon type signs, similar to the Lamar Restaurant sign that always gave the street a big city feel to it. All that was replaced with office park type buildings and that little section of Lamar street is all that remains. I don't think there is enough left to save - better to include it in the new development.

I hope they don't set the new buildings back too far from the street and like I said, they have got to work the Lamar Restaurant sign into the scheme. If you will look in Mississippi photos of the day, I posted a picture of a portion of Lamar back in March, although the area in question is not shown on that picture.

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Thanks for the info. Spoody. I'll go check out the photo thread now. I'm well overdue for a visit to Jackson.

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A public announcement about the convention center hotels will likely be made this month. From what I have heard, the hotels will be a 350 room Crowne Plaza and a smaller (limited service) Staybridge Suites. There may well be a significant retail component also. It has also been mentioned that the project will include apartments of some sort. Stay tuned....

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A 350-room anchor hotel is a nice size, and the 2nd hotel is definitely a bonus. Let us know when renderings become available.

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Just a quick update here. The announcement for this project had been scheduled for this evening. It has been delayed for another two weeks. As far as I know, however, the project should be announced in mid-July.

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Funding in Place

An important piece of funding for the Capital Center project is now in place. A major event is planned for this Thursday to announce several projects. Whether or not this one will be part of the announcement remains to be seen. My enthusiasm aside, I do have certain reservations about the developers of this project and hope that the city is not going to regret the choice that has been made here. From what I have been told, this should be a nice project. I just hope there are not significant problems on the horizon.

The Clarion-Ledger

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Tombarnes, I look forward to what they have in mind also. What potential problems with that developer do you see?

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The developer is connected with Gene Phillips of Dallas. If you recall when Frank Melton wanted to hand over the King Edward project to Phillips, there were a number of questionable business practices revealed about Phillips and his associates. I have no evidence that Mark Small's company is or has been involved in any of this, but I wonder whether or not there could be potential problems down the road with this group. For the history, check the archives of the JFP. For the moment, I'm pleased to see that the project is moving forward, though I wish the hotel could be a Westin or a Hyatt. Crowne Plaza, while unimpeachable, is not a first-tier brand, strictly speaking. Note that when Columbia-Sussex renovated the Crowne Plaza in Jackson, they switched brands to Marriott as the brand has greater name recognition. Not that Crowne Plazas are awful, there's just not the punch that a Westin or possibly a Hyatt would bring.

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Capital Center Project- Parking Lot Woes

The owners of a parking lot on the land which will be used for the two convention center hotels are involved in a squabble over how the money will be divided. This has apparently been the sticking point which has delayed the project thus far. today, the city council will meet in order to discuss the use of eminent domain proceedings in order to get the project on track. I'd rather not see eminent domain used in this instance, but it could well be argued that there is a public purpose at work here.

The Clarion-Ledger

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The developer is connected with Gene Phillips of Dallas. If you recall when Frank Melton wanted to hand over the King Edward project to Phillips, there were a number of questionable business practices revealed about Phillips and his associates. I have no evidence that Mark Small's company is or has been involved in any of this, but I wonder whether or not there could be potential problems down the road with this group. For the history, check the archives of the JFP. For the moment, I'm pleased to see that the project is moving forward, though I wish the hotel could be a Westin or a Hyatt. Crowne Plaza, while unimpeachable, is not a first-tier brand, strictly speaking. Note that when Columbia-Sussex renovated the Crowne Plaza in Jackson, they switched brands to Marriott as the brand has greater name recognition. Not that Crowne Plazas are awful, there's just not the punch that a Westin or possibly a Hyatt would bring.

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Supposedly, the announcement will be made in January. I have hear first-hand from a number of people who would be in a position to know, that the brand will indeed be Crowne Plaza. Bleah. Wahatever happens, the convention center needs a new hotel. I just want to see thiss off the ground. Renaissance would be a smarter choice.

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