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Developers eyeing new horizons for Capital City’s skyline

The revitalization of downtown Jackson, according to those who promote the district, is dependent on creating and sustaining a critical mass of people and offering them living space in the area.

Those two ideas have been at the center of every major development, from the renovation of the Plaza Building to include loft apartments to the refurbishing of the King Edward Hotel to include shops, restaurants and residences. With $1.2 billion in projects under construction, downtown Jackson’s skyline is changing.

Two developments that will play starring roles in that change will open in the next three months. The Pinnacle at Jackson Place, the first new office building downtown in 22 years, will greet its first tenants December 5. The Jackson Convention Complex will have its grand opening January 17. Ben Minnifield, CEO of Novia Communications and Media Group and head of marketing for the complex, said events are already booked into 2012, representing more than $1 million in revenue.

Before that, the complex has to be unveiled to the local folks.

“Our whole focus is to introduce the complex to Jackson,” Minnifield said. “It will be a community open house, with family entertainment, including demonstrations from Bass Pro Shops and Parmasters golf, which will provide golf training demonstrations.”

The $65-million, 330,000-square-foot complex, at the intersection of Pascagoula and Lamar streets, will combine the Mississippi TelCom Center.

Complex officials, when pitching the idea, had said the facility would attract national and international conventions, tradeshows and conferences. So far, they have been proven right.

The first event is less than a week after the grand opening. The Motor Trend Mississippi International Auto Show is January 23-25. Minnifield said he expects 25,000 people to flow through the complex that weekend.

The show will be the first of its kind in Mississippi. Manufacturers who have signed on to participate include Honda, Toyota and Acura. The show will feature new-model and concept cars, alternative fuel vehicles, pre-production vehicles, specialty vehicle displays and family entertainment.

Landing an event with the magnitude of the Motor Trend show was the culmination of months of effort by complex promoters, Minnifield said.

“We have been saying from the beginning that meeting planners and convention and show planners can get more bang for their buck here in Jackson,” Minnifield said. “And they can have the latest in technology with this being literally a brand new building. The first (event planners) want to know about is the affordability. Other regions are more expensive (than Jackson).”

Debuting a month and a half before the Jackson Convention Complex is the Pinnacle at Jackson Place, an office building that will serve as the cornerstone of the redevelopment of the Jackson Place area at the intersection of Lamar and Capitol streets.

Ground broke on the nine-story, 194,000-square foot structure in spring 2007. Once all the phases are completed, Jackson Place will be home to shops, restaurants, office space and residences.

Before developer Parkway Properties announced the development in October 2006, four tenants had agreed to locate in the building. Trustmark Bank, the law firm of Brunini Grantham Grower and Hewes, the law firm of Watkins Ludlam Winter and Stennis and EastGroup Properties will move in the first week of December. A public grand opening is December 18.

“This is going to be a first-class building,” said Dennis Miller, CEO of the Brunini firm.

The firm currently has offices in the Trustmark Building on East Capitol Street.

Lee Nations, vice president and project manager for Parkway Properties, said Harrell Contracting Group is putting the finishing touches on the building.

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

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