Jackson — She’s primed for her debut.
The finishing touches are being placed on Electric 308, the historic downtown Jackson landmark known until recently as the Electric Building. Construction of the $16-million renovation project of the 10-story, 115,000-square-foot building began in 2003. All of the residential space is leased and the commercial space is finished with business folks set to move in.
“We can’t wait to show it off,” said Ted Duckworth, president and managing broker for Jackson-based Duckworth Realty, owner of Electric 308, located at the corner of West and Pearl streets. “You won’t believe you’re in Jackson, Miss. That’s what we were going for … that new upscale boutique hotel kind of feel with all the amenities and services you would expect. Finish-wise, quality-wise, technologically and aesthetically, I don’t think there’s anything like it around here.”
Restoring it to the original state
The external design of the circa 1927 building was restored to its original state and authentic pre-cast details were added to the ground floor entrances to resemble the original design.
Johnson Bailey Henderson McNeel (JBHM) Architects, whose shareholder Richard McNeel had previously worked on the Electric Building and championed the renovation project, led the structural overhaul.
The building’s unique décor features Louisiana artist Robert Recter commissioned artwork gracing the lobby, plasma screens located in elevators and behind the security desk, music piped in throughout the facility and security cameras inconspicuously squirreled in nooks and crannies.
A newly added rooftop terrace features views of St. Andrew’s Cathedral and of the historic Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.
Electric 308 is fiber optically wired throughout. Time Warner Cable partnered with Duckworth to provide all 15 luxury apartments on the top two floors with pre-wired digital high-definition cable, and phone service with unlimited long distance.
“Taking a 1920s building and making it 21st century high-tech was a magnificent undertaking, and really a great end product,” said Tom Black, vice president of Harrell Contracting Group, LLC, of Jackson, the general contractor for the project. “It was a conglomeration of work that involved two projects. The first was to completely gut out and rebuild the core of the building. The second project was to build out the tenant work and residential component, which has the appointments of a truly custom built residences. Each unit features spectacular downtown views.”
The building’s lifeboat
The greatest challenge was keeping the seventh floor intact, said Duckworth, which he referred to as the building’s lifeboat. “We agreed to keep it fully operational because it has Entergy’s switch in it, and the IT runs through that location,” he said. “It has its own air conditioning system, is individually metered, and runs independent of the rest of the building.”
Duckworth’s firm will manage Electric 308, which lists Entergy Mississippi as the primary leaseholder with approximately 50,000 square feet on five floors.
Formerly known as Mississippi Power & Light, Entergy Mississippi called the building home for 73 years before debating whether to move or renovate the office space for its 60 employees working there. In the 1970s, the utility company housed 400 employees in the building.
“We knew the building badly needed refurbishing,” Haley Fisackerly, a vice president for Entergy Mississippi, said in 2003. “It would have been too costly for us to do it.”
Entergy endorsed Duckworth’s plan to buy the building, renovate it, and lease space to the utility company.
Duckworth occupies 6,000-plus square feet of office space, and JBHM is a tenant. All of the apartments are leased, some to Entergy executives displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Lawyers, doctors and bankers represent additional leaseholders.
“Most of the retail space on the first floor is committed, and we have signed a letter of intent with a restaurateur,” said Duckworth.
The completion of Electric 308 represents an important step in the revitalization of downtown Jackson.
“We’ll have an open house during the holidays for our offices, but we probably won’t have a grand opening until the restaurant opens in April,” said Duckworth.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.