Developer sets sights on 2.74-acre retail-and-residential project just south of Pascagoula Street
A once far-reaching plan to redevelop nine city blocks below Mississippi’s Old Capitol has been scaled back to a single mixed-use building on 2.74 acres just south of Pascagoula Street.
Branded by developer Full Spectrum South as 1822 Square at Old Capitol Green to commemorate the founding of Jackson, the project is now envisioned as a six-story building with retail and fitness spa on the ground floor and 129 residential apartments on the floors above. A plaza that opens from Commerce Street will lead to the multi-story building. To the left will be a separate single-floor building to accommodate 31,000 square feet of additional retail, said Malcolm Shepherd, Full Spectrum South’s development director.
About half of the 2.74 acres is designated as flood prone and thus will be devoted to a surface parking lot instead of residential units, Shepherd said.
Full Spectrum took possession of the site through a 15-year lease with the state, which owns the parcel bounded by Pascagoula Street on the north, Jefferson Street on the east, Tombigbee Street on the south and Commerce Street to the west.
Full Spectrum South’s Old Capitol Green master planned development started life as a multi-phased $1.1-billion project that would cover 50 acres on the eastern edge of the Central Business District. It ultimately would give downtown Jackson a sustainable urban community, developers said
The project, however, would require a healthy dose of public and private funding that has not materialized over the half dozen years since Old Capitol Green’s inception. The effort sustained a severe blow in July when Hinds County supervisors rejected a deal to request a $17 million Mississippi Development Authority bond for a 450-space covered parking garage that was to be erected within the 1822 Square at Old Capitol Green. The garage was to principally accommodate office workers who would occupy a 10-floor office building component of the project.
Supervisors said they felt uneasy about going ahead with the bond without knowing the number of pre-leases Full Spectrum South had for the office component. “We are very uncomfortable moving forward,” Hinds County Economic Development Authority executive director Blake Wallace said in an Associated Press report. “There has been ample time to provide the submittals. The only thing we have on file are projections.”
Full Spectrum South claimed the action by Hinds supervisors cost the project $52 million of investment committed by the firm’s investors.
In total, Full Spectrum had put its financial commitment to the multi-phase project at $123 million, with other developers and investors taking the project to its projected total cost of $1.1 billion.
From here, the project will ease ahead “one block at a time,” Full Spectrum’s Shepherd said.
“I can’t tell you when the financial people are going to release the money,” he said in addressing funding for the 2.74-acre mixed use project.
While Full Spectrum South has a 15-year lease with the state for the site, the development firm is hoping it can eventually acquire full ownership, according o Shepherd. “We think if we can move forward on the development, the state would approve us purchasing the land from them.”
The foundation for progress, he said, is the master zoning given the multi-block area designated for Old Capitol Green. The ordinance allows multiple uses in individual buildings; for instance, retail on a first floor, office on a second floor and residential on the building’s remaining floors. “Sustainability demands that you have a mixture of items there in order to maintain the development on an on-going basis,” Shepherd said, and pointed that such flexibility allows changes of uses as markets change. So with a hot retail market, office space can be switched to that use and vice versa, he added.
“You can convert if income from one segment drops off.”
Behind Full Spectrum South’s refusal to give up after it set backs, Shepherd said, is a belief that downtown Jackson is crying out for more residential and more retail space. “We have 29,000 people drive to work in downtown Jackson every day,” he said. “The disposable income of those people is through the roof. The challenge now is: ‘How can you get the people who come to downtown Jackson every day to spend some of their money here.’”
“Let’s give them something they can’t get at home,” Shepherd said.