By LISA MONTI
Ted Duckworth and Breck Hines, the developers of the District at Eastover, a mixed use development in Jackson, started out five years ago with a vision for a vibrant neighborhood that they now see taking shape and gaining momentum.
Duckworth is president and CEO of Duckworth Realty in Jackson and Hines is executive vice president and principal. Both are principals of the District at Eastover.
With the major announcement this month that BankPlus will add a financial center to the development, Duckworth and Hines now can get down to business, signing shops and other targeted tenants to be part of the $125 million, 21-acre District.
“We couldn’t start on retail and restaurant leasing until the major pieces were in place,” Hines said of the BankPlus announcement. “Now this allows us to launch into the remainder of the lifestyle portion of the development.”
The District is located at Interstate 55 and Eastover Drive, between the city’s major medical corridor, the Fondren Arts District and the Lefleur East District residential area.
BankPlus will consolidate offices in the District’s central location that will be headquarters for its Jackson banking center, offering commercial lending, commercial real estate, private banking and other services.
Construction on the 67,000-square-foot BankPlus complex will begin this month. When completed in 2017, the bank will lease the top two floors of the three-story building for its full service operation and the ground floor will contain 17,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space with frontage on I-55 and The District Plaza in the middle of the development.
The ground floor of The District Lofts, a residential complex with 250 upscale units, also will have local and national retailers occupying its ground floor. Construction began in 2015 and will be completed in spring of 2017. Some retail tenants may be open later this year.
The District is patterned after successful developments such as the Hill Center Green Hills in Nashville; CityCentre in Houston; The Domain in Austin; the Grand Boulevard in Sandestin; and the Kierland Commons in Scottsdale. The developers hired the architects of the Scottsdale project to design The District.
“By looking at other successful developments around the country and in our area that have similar demographics and or even much bigger markets, we tried to determine what was the most successful of mixed use developments and try to pattern after that,” said Duckworth.
Breck said, “What we have found through our travels and research is that by layering different uses within a true mixed use development, each use complements the other in some way.”
The retail component is enhanced by having residential units in the same project, he said. Office space adds to the synergy as well.
“From 8 to 5, there will be over 1,000 people a day on site before the first customers drive in to a restaurant and retail,” Hines said.
This month, law firms of Baker Donelson and Cosmich Simmons & Brown will move into offices in the newly construction One Eastover Center, the 125,000-square-foot Class A office building within The District.
Also, Origin Bank will open a new branch located on the Frontage Road in front of One Eastover Center in late summer. Origin Bank has 41 banking centers in Mississippi and across the Southeast.
The Marriott Residence Inn being constructed along Eastover Drive is expected to open in early summer. The four-story hotel will have 95 suites with separate sleeping and living areas and according to the developers will be the first new hotel in the area in more than a decade.
On the retail side, Duckworth and Hines are courting trendy retailers and the “best in class operators” to make The District a culinary destination. They want to bring in restaurants that specialize in modern Mexican, upscale sushi, Mediterranean and Italian cuisine along with several fast-casual restaurants. They plan food related events on the property such as wine tastings and farmers markets.
Next year, an eight-screen theater with reclining seats and food and beverage service during movie showings and special events will open.
With all of the elements they’re pulling together in The District, including a central plaza to bring people together, the developers are trying to create a neighborhood feel unlike anything in the state.
“When Ted, Michael Barranco and I worked on this years ago, the vision was essentially the same. We wanted to create our own little neighborhood, not just offices and retail. It truly is its own district,” said Hines.
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