By JACK WEATHERLY
A veteran in the hospitality industry has been selected as general manager of the Westin Jackson hotel, according to Wischermann Partners, the operator.
Mike Burton will oversee operations of the 204-room hotel at 315 Tombigbee St. in downtown, which, according to the Westin website, is scheduled to open Aug. 3 – one day after the hoped-for Southern Legislative Conference was to launch the hostelry in a big way.
Construction of the $60 million hotel started in August 2015.
Financing of the project was a challenge.
Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary ruled in April 2015 that the city could put up $10 million as collateral.
Singletary decided that the project was urban redevelopment and thus served a public purpose.
He ruled against developer Don Hewitt’s argument that the state Constitution prohibits such use. Hewitt hoped to take part in future development of a convention center hotel in downtown Jackson and worried that the Westin would diminish demand for another hotel.
Hinds County is pledging $20 million of state money authorized by the Legislature for the Westin project.
There were no bidders on the city’s bond issue and so the Jackson Redevelopment Authority borrowed $9 million.
Backers of the hotel were hoping that the Southern Legislative Conference could be held at the Westin, but instead the delays meant that it will be in Biloxi from July 29-Aug. 2.
The hotel will be a short distance from downtown institutions such as the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Federal Courthouse, the Planetarium and Thalia Mara Hall.
Also, the Jackson Convention Complex is a block away.
The hotel will have 12,000 square feet of meeting space. It will also have a wine bar and bistro restaurant and state-of-the-art spa.
Burton was hotel manager of Sheraton Dallas Hotel, the largest hotel in the Starwood Hotels and Resorts portfolio, where he oversaw a $12 million renovation and led the hotel to its first AAA Four Diamond rating in 2012.
“There isn’t a better person than Mike Burton to lead our new property in Jackson,” said Paul Wischermann, president and chief executive of Wischermann Partners.