RIDGELAND — Talk has been circulating about new construction in the West Jackson Street Overlay District in Ridgeland, and according to developers in the area, they are almost ready to deliver their promise of a new “downtown” for the city.
The overlay district starts at Sunnybrook Road on West Jackson Street and goes back to the east to U.S. 51. Both sides of West Jackson Street will be developed.
“We’re excited about it,” said Mike McCollum, director for community development for the City of Ridgeland. “We’ve put a lot of work and effort in getting the district passed, especially initially. We convinced folks who lived in this area that this is a good thing for Ridgeland. I think it’ll be a win-win for everybody.”
Tim Templeton, owner of Templeton & Associates, partnered with Claiborne Frazier of Frazier Development about six months ago to make his plans for the area become reality.
Six buildings making up a total of 200,000 square feet will be built over the next three years on West Jackson Street. The bottom floors will be retail, the second floors will be office space and the third floors will be condominiums, or “lofts” as they are being called.
“We’re developing a turn-of-the-century style downtown district that is governed by an overlay district,” Templeton explained. “It looks like we’ve got it up and running and everything’s headed in a positive direction. We are on target to start with our first building sometime in the spring.”
“Olde Towne Ridgeland is our theme and we’re going to create that with several buildings that are across the street from each other,” Frazier said.
Daniel Wooldridge, AIA, owner of Wooldridge & Associates in Ridgeland, is the architect for the first phase of construction.
Mayor Gene McGee of Ridgeland said the idea is to create an atmosphere similar to that of the downtown areas in Oxford or Natchez, with quaint buildings and plenty of pedestrian friendly places.
“I think it will be a place where people can gather, feel free to relax, do business and shop,” McGee said.
McGee said the city has looked forward to seeing the development of the area.
“We went to a lot of trouble to develop an overlay district to try to get this going, so I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Steve Parker, co-owner of the Parker House Restaurant, is looking forward to seeing construction activity begin on West Jackson Street. He and his wife own the property on the southeast corner of Jackson Street and the railroad.
“I invested my children’s future in the area,” he said. “That speaks for itself. We are real excited about the future of Jackson Street.”
Parker said his restaurant’s new location on West Jackson has been good for his business.
“It’s done more than we ever expected for the growth of our business in that area,” he said.
Parker said he and the other property owners as well as city officials have worked hard over the last few years to refine the guidelines of the West Jackson Overlay District. Controls were put in place so the direction of the street was positive for the city and for the property owners. But, he said, they have also opened the door for development a little wider.
“The city and the property owners have been actively involved in trying to plan for the future of the city,” Parker said. “Synergies have been very good and positive for the future of the city.”
Parker and his wife Barbara are currently in negotiations with developers about frontage on Jackson Street and its future.
“We’re real excited about it,” Parker said. “It’s going to take the folks who have the money to share the vision of the street and those folks are out there. We’re ready.”