By BECKY GILLETTE
Jackson Street in Ridgeland has been seeing a surge in new commercial real estate activity, and more new projects are under way adding to the mix.
“We’re beginning to see some very positive things happening,” said Ridgeland Mayor Gene F. McGee. “I think a lot has to do with the fact that the economy has improved, but they are also realizing the new road we’re building on Colony Park Blvd. will take traffic off Jackson Street. Right now, there is a lot of through traffic.”
South of Jackson Street. the city is adding the Lake Harbor extension, which also will facilitate the movement of through traffic. McGee said the work being done is the culmination of years of planning to make the Jackson Street area more pedestrian friendly similar to places like Fairhope, Ala.
“We want to make it feel more like a downtown,” McGee said. “We would like to see some nice things happen to the area that make it more aesthetically pleasing like brick pavers across the street, and special landscaping and lighting. We have already built a city parking lot on Jackson St. to give businesses there more options for their customers to park.”
McGee said developers are seeing the city is really interested in boosting that area, and the resulting growth is creating some tremendous synergy.
One new development is at the corner of Jackson St. and U.S. Highway 51. The multi-use building being developed by Steven H. Horn and Christi Horn, Horn Commercial Group. The project planned to open in early 2018 includes retail downstairs and live\work units upstairs.
“It is going to be a gorgeous site,” Christi Horn said. “It has two phases. Phase one is 10,000 square feet. We already have a viable store that is going to be located on the corner of phase one. We have two other tenants looking who can’t be announced yet. Upstairs will have eight live\work units. They will have access through a separate locked gate in the back where residents will have covered parking.
“There has been a lot of interest especially since we’re going for ‘the loft style look,’ a New York feel. The live\work units will have tall ceilings, raw bricks, rough wood beams and an open feel. Each unit will average about 1,150 square feet in size, and will have two bedrooms and two baths with a balcony. We have already pre-sold five of the live\work units.”
There will be sidewalks along both phases so residents can walk to stores and restaurants. Horn said for the exterior, they are going for cool colors, off white rough bricks with iron and copper to accessorize.
The building is being called Porter 51 because access will be on Porter making it easier to get in and out.
“The east end of Porter Street has traffic lights, which is good,” she said. “West Jackson St. is just hard to get out on. We love this location. It is the best corner to get high traffic.”
Approval also has been given for three new office buildings to which will adjoin similar buildings built a couple of years ago. The offices at 206, 208 and 210 W. Jackson St. will each be two stories and about 3,500 square feet.
Drew Creel, owner of Krilakis, a Greek restaurant across the street at 207 W. Jackson St., said he has seen business increase each of the six years the restaurant has been open on Jackson Street.
“Our business since we moved in this area has been on a steady incline,” Creel said. “When new businesses come around, it just adds to the local traffic. It helps all of us along this line.”
Creel said there have been several new buildings constructed across the street from him over the past year, and those have brought in new businesses.
“Since we opened here, there have been some times when not everything was full,” Creel said. “But that has certainly changed over the past year. I don’t think there is anything empty on this street right now. Spaces are being leased. With buildings under construction, most have been preleased.
“The whole idea is to just fill up this whole area,” Creel said. “It seems to be getting there little by little. The past year has seen the biggest increase. The whole street is booming. Our building had two or three empty spots for a little while, but now it is at capacity.
“There is no doubt the increase in traffic on this street has been great this past year. We have the new Methodist Rehab Center and a new dentist office. Things are looking great on our street. When new businesses come in, people find out about us and that helps out a lot.”