Can Jackson…Walk the walk? (Update)

One side of the lake would feature a mix of apartments and condos, the other an arts district and a Hollywood bowl.

One side of the lake would feature a mix of apartments and condos, the other an arts district and a Hollywood bowl.

Riverwalk could transform Capital City over next decade, but will Jackson, mayor be on board for the expedition?

Waterfront property around the Reservoir in Madison and Rankin counties is among the most valued in the Jackson metro area.

If developer David Watkins has his way, downtown Jackson will eventually have waterfront real estate of its own.

At a media luncheon last week, Watkins unveiled plans for the Riverwalk and Town Lake, an ambitious project that would feature a mile-long, concrete-lined canal that started at Farish Street and ended at Court Street, where it would empty into a 35-acre lake that connected to the Pearl River.

One side of the lake would feature a mix of apartments and condos, the other an arts district and a Hollywood bowl. A gospel music museum and a civil rights museum, which is currently planned to go up at Tougaloo College, have been thrown out as possibilities at the canal’s Farish Street beginning.

Watkins said the Riverwalk and Town Lake is in the extremely early planning stages. His best estimate at a cost was $200 million, which would have to include public money, probably in the form of bonds.

“We’ll know more about that early (this) week,” Watkins said.

The project could be done in four to six years, but Watkins admitted it would probably take “10 or 12” to actually complete once the Jackson Redevelopment Authority (JRA) and the City of Jackson take it over. Watkins hopes to turn it over to the city some time in the next 30 days.

However, the Jackson mayor’s office has been a little more tempered in its comments.

Christopher Mims, spokesman for Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, said Johnson does support the project, but it is going to require a partnership with the private sector from beginning to end “and it’s just a concept right now. We need to identify funding, a definite cost, a definite route, all that has to happen for the development to move forward. None of that is going to be easy.

“This is an exciting project and we look forward to working on it, but we realize there’s always going to be a certain level of skepticism with something this big.”

After the project is turned over to the city, environmental impact and flood control studies would have to be conducted. There is also some property acquisition the city would have to undertake. Downtown Jackson Partners president and CEO Ben Allen said there were between eight and 10 property owners in the canal’s path and that the property was “obtainable.” Neither Allen nor Watkins ruled out the possibility of the city, once it takes over the project, having to use eminent domain to acquire the property.

David Watkins

David Watkins

 Most of the land around the lake and in the path of the canal is already owned by either the JRA or by developers like Watkins.

Watkins said Riverwalk would work with either of the plans submitted for flood control of the Pearl River near downtown Jackson – the Two Lakes project pushed by John McGowan or the levees plan preferred by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“This is not a flood-control project. This is a recreation project,” he said.

The canal would stretch 25 feet wide, Watkins said, and have a depth of four feet. The 35-acre lake it flows into would have a depth of 10 feet with sloping sides so that the depth at the banks would probably not exceed two feet. There are plans for a marina on the lake.

“This would completely change the face of downtown Jackson,” said Watkins, whose Hotel King Edward project is set to open this week. Watkins is also developing the Farish Street Entertainment District.

Watkins and Allen both said they understood there would be those who would be skeptical about the project.

Allen pointed to the Jackson Convention Complex as an example of a project that appeared doomed, but survived and got a voter-approved bond issue passed to pay for its construction.

“It’s going to happen,” Watkins said. “We had a dream. Now we have something to look at and something we can make a reality.”

 

———————————————————————————–

Initial Story:

JACKSON — Waterfront property around the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Madison and Rankin counties is among the most valued in the Jackson Metro area.

If developer David Watkins has his way, downtown Jackson will eventually have waterfront real estate of its own.

At a media luncheon Wednesday, Watkins unveiled plans for the Riverwalk Canal and Town Lake, an ambitious project that would feature a mile-long, concrete lined canal that started at Farish Street and ended at Court Street, where it would empty into a 35-acre lake that connected to the Pearl River.

One side of the lake would feature a mix of apartments and condos, the other an arts district and a Hollywood bowl. A gospel music museum and a civil rights museum, which is currently planned to go up at Tougaloo College, have been thrown out as possibilities at the canal’s Farish Street beginning.

Watkins said the Riverwalk Canal and Town Lake is in the extremely early planning stages. His best estimate at a cost was $200 million, which would have to include public money, probably in the form of bonds.

“We’ll know more about that early next week,” Watkins said.

The project could be done in four to six years, but Watkins admitted it would probably take “10 or 12 to actually complete once the Jackson Redevelopment Authority (JRA) and the City of Jackson take it over. Watkins hopes to turn it over the city some time in the next 30 days.

From there, environmental impact and flood control studies would have to be conducted. There is also some property acquisition the city would have to undertake. Downtown Jackson Partners president and CEO Ben Allen said there were between eight and 10 property owners in the canal’s path and that the property was “obtainable.”

Most of the land around the lake and in the path of the canal is already owned by either the JRA or by developers like Watkins.

Watkins said Riverwalk would work with either of the plan submitted for flood control of the Pearl River near Downtown Jackson – the Two Lakes project pushed by John McGowan or the levees plan preferred by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The canal would stretch 25 feet wide, Watkins said, and have a depth of four feet. The 35-acre lake it flows into would have a depth of 10 feet with sloping sides so that the depth at the banks would probably not exceed two feet. There are plans for a marina on the lake.

“This would completely change the face of Downtown Jackson,” said Watkins, whose Hotel King Edward project is set to open this week. Watkins is also developing the Farish Street Entertainment District.

[RSS Feed] [del.icio.us]



To sign up for Mississippi Business Daily Updates, click here.

6 Responses to “Can Jackson…Walk the walk? (Update)”

  1. Reba G. Cook Says:

    Won’t work. Too many use Town Creek as a garbage dump and too many thugs prowling.

  2. Reba G. Cook Says:

    Won’t work. Too many use Town Creek as a garbage dump and too many thugs prowling.

  3. Laurel Isbister Says:

    Too bad people have such disdain for the downtown area. They will be eating their words as one after another beautiful project takes flight and the city rises like a phoenix.

  4. Laurel Isbister Says:

    People said the King Edward wouldn’t reopen, and it’s going to cut ribbon tomorrow! People said we didn’t need a convention center and the city wouldn’t vote for it. But we did, it’s built, and every day I see people use it for conventions and meetings, adding new life and commerce to our downtown area.

  5. Chuck Says:

    I enjoyed your article on the proposed Riverwalk. But, I don’t think the Riverwalk itself is a winner. “Homerun” projects, like the Riverwalk and Twin Lakes, invariably divert time and attention away from the solid “base hits” that abound in downtown Jackson.

    Even the “base hits” are frequently under capitalized and run way, way over schedule. By years, if not by decades.

    We have three entertainment districts nearly set to go – Farrish Street, Hal & Mal’s block, and the environs of the Convention Center. If these three districts can fulfill their promise, incremental development (e.g. new businesses) can get established in between them.

    Emininent domain squables and inpediments will rule the roost if the Riverwalk or Twin Lakes get the green light. We’ll be delivered into a permanent dreamscape; an endless cycle of procrastination.

    Let’s get moving now, not later.

  6. 6 Flags Jackson: please sign the petition - Mississippi (MS) - Page 9 - City-Data Forum Says:

    [...] it will be available to the public soon. Here’s an additional article with a partial rendering: Mississippi Business Journal

POST A COMMENT

 

Top Posts & Pages