While other developers have seen their share of attention for downtown Jackson restoration successes, Mike Peters has quietly completed a massive project, wrapped up a residential project and is collaborating with a fellow developer and a local school board on a new $25-million development featuring luxury condominiums.
“It needed to be done,” said Peters, with a grin.
When Peters acquired the 85,000-square-foot, 12-story Plaza Building in downtown Jackson some 15 months ago, the 1920s Art Deco property was badly in need of repair and updating and was only half full. The yearlong renovation project, which called for offices on the lower levels and upscale housing on the upper levels, is projected for completion this spring.
“We converted the top three floors into 14 beautiful executive apartments, averaging from $1,300 to $1,700 a month including utilities, parking, everything,” said Peters. “It’s a great bargain.”
The first floor was restored to its original luster, and features the mainstay Keifer’s, plus Cups Coffee Shop, Basil’s Sandwich Shop and a new bar and grill. Offices on floors two through nine represent a mix of professional services, buzzing with accountants, attorneys and lobbyists. “I think the office market is really excited about what’s happening and we’re starting to fill up office space,” said Peters, who estimated that 75% of office space is leased.
In late January, Peters opened floors 10-12 to the public, which he calls the “crowning glory” of the $7.5-million project. The fully rented 1,300-square-foot apartments “have gorgeous views overlooking the Old Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, Capitol Street, Mississippi Fairgrounds and the Pearl River,” he said. “We did an even better job than I thought we were gonna do.”
The Plaza Building renovation fits well into the downtown renaissance mix, said Peters.
“People who haven’t been downtown in the last 12 to 18 months are missing something,” he said. “Between the Electric Building renovation, Farish Street development, telcom and convention center projects, it’s really looking good.”
Peters is also working on Fondren Place, a $25-million joint venture with Andrew Mattiace and the Jackson Public School System. “It’s very unique, the first of its kind in Mississippi,” said Peters, who hopes to break ground this summer on the mixed-use development, which will feature 55 new luxury condominiums for sale, retail shops, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
“The school building itself is going to be converted into a marketplace, then two new mid-rises will be built, a three-story on the State Street end and a five-story on the Old Canton Road end,” explained Peters. “Those will have retail on the ground floor and beautiful condominiums on the upper floors with balconies and gorgeous settings. We hope to have the first people moving in during the winter of 2007.”
Reservations have already been taken on half of the condominiums, which range in price from $250,000 to $750,000, depending on the size, location and interior finish, said Peters.
Peters’ new venture comes on the heels of the Fondren Corner development, which he called “hugely successful.”
“The residential component of Fondren Corner was rental, and Fondren Place will provide the first new units for purchase in the neighborhood,” he pointed out. “We think that’s a big step because it represents a whole new level of commitment of people to put down deeper roots here. It’s a natural progression of what’s happening in this exciting, booming neighborhood.”
Peters, whose sons, Mitch and Sam, oversee properties throughout Hinds County for Peters Real Estate, also has smaller projects underway, including a shopping center development in Clinton and retail and office projects in the Lakeland Drive area. “Nothing of major monumental proportions, but things are healthy all over town,” he said. “We’re a small company and we can’t do 10 projects at the same time. We don’t have the manpower and don’t want to have too many employees.”
Peters also owns English Village in Belhaven, a neighborhood that he predicts will soon blossom.
“Fortification Street improvements will kick off Belhaven’s resurgence,” said Peters, a lifelong Jackson resident and Belhaven College alum. “It’s another neighborhood that’s decided to take control of its destiny.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.