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Waterfront property in Downtown Jackson?

Just got out of a lunch gathering in Downtown Jackson Partners’ new marketing center, where DJP President and CEO Ben Allen performed one of his patented, high-energy routines.

But the biggest news came when Jackson Developer David Watkins, whose  King Edward project is set to open this week, took the floor and laid out what would be the most ambitious economic development undertaking Jackson has seen in several decades, maybe ever. Basically, it involves a mile-long, concrete-lined canal that winds through downtown from its beginning at Farish Street, also a Watkins project, and ends in a 35-acre lake on Court Street that connects to the Pearl River. One side of the lake would feature a mix of apartments and condos. 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.

Did we mention it was ambitious?

Anyway, Watkins said the Riverwalk Canal and Town Lake is in the extremely early planning stages. His best estimate at a cost is $200 million, which would have to include public money probably in the form of bonds. Watkins said the project could be done in four to six  years, but admitted it would probably take “10 or 12″ to actually complete once the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and the City of Jackson take it over. Watkins hopes to turn it over the city some time in the next 30 days.

There would have to be some property acquisition to make this happen, plus the environmental impact studies and flood control issues. Those processes can bog down pretty easily.

We’ll have a more detailed look at this in our E-Bulletin Thursday morning. For now, we have to wrap some things up for next week’s paper edition of the MBJ.

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  1. December 21st, 2009 at 11:03 | #1

    Though I find the prospective idea of a waterfront business/entertainment center in Downtown Jackson great, I’m doubtful the plan will be successful. At face value, our beloved state capital has a number of problems counterproductive to economic growth – i.e., crime (which has led to the fleeing of Jackson’s upper and middle-class tax base), dilapidated infrastructure (ROADS!!!), and a plethora of abandoned or dilapidated homes. These issues must be addressed in order to aid in the success of a waterfront development project.

    Moreover, Jackson will face a number of social and public policy-related hurdles to make this idea possible. The most visible obstacles will be interaction with government flood control and environmental agencies. In addition, Jackson will now have to compete with the suburban cities Flowood, Madison, Byram, Ridgeland, and Brandon in regards to attracting new residents/shoppers to the waterfront property. Public policy would certainly have to be competitively modified and middle-class job creation pushed in order to make this ambitious project a plausible one.

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