After decades as an eyesore, the Hotel King Edward in Jackson is undergoing a renaissance.
Construction and renovation of the building started last year after much of 2007 was spent cleaning the interior and removing it of asbestos.
The building once was the hub of social activity in the downtown Jackson area before it closed in the 1960s. For nearly 40 years the structure deteriorated into a pigeon roost, a default homeless shelter and a haven for drug activity.
Several groups of investors had attempted to revive the building but failed when either money, cooperation from the government or both ran out.
Enter David Watkins.
The Jackson attorney forged a partnership with HRI Properties of New Orleans and Saints running back Deuce McCallister that did not crumble like all the others had. A critical piece of the $100-million funding puzzle came in September 2007 when $15 million in New Market Tax Credits were obtained through Capitol One and the National New Markets Fund.
The restoration of the King Edward and the adjacent Standard Life Building are the flagship projects of more than $1.2 billion in total redevelopment taking place in downtown Jackson.
Construction and renovation of the King Edward will be done in spring, 2009, and will include a 186-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, a signature restaurant, bar, coffee shop and gift shop. The top four floors will house 56 up-scale apartments.
At a press conference celebrating the end of clean-up and the beginning of construction, Watkins said it was passion for Jackson that led him to put himself on the hook for so much money for a project that had fallen through several times before.
“I’m a Jacksonian,” Watkins said. “I believe in Jackson.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .