By TED CARTER
A continued absence of progress on a Jackson convention center hotel could create an opening for Hertz Investment Group to convert downtown’s City Centre, a two-tower office complex, into a convention hotel.
The only snag is a pair of tenant leases that do not expire until 2017 and 2018, according to Jim Ingram, executive VP and chief investment officer for the Hertz Group, owner of a substantial number of office buildings in downtown Jackson as well as South Pointe Business Park in Clinton.
Ingram said Hertz Group began giving serious thought to the conversion after major tenant Forman Watkins & Krutz committed to moving from City Centre to Regions Plaza, another Hertz property.
If Hertz decided to move ahead with a 300-room convention center hotel, presumably it could seek to entice the tenants spread among the 12-floor south tower and 10-floor north tower to move before their leases run out. “If we can get them to terminate earlier we are all for that,” Ingram said in a late April interview. “We’re just working through that.”
Ingram said in an interview last year his firm’s analysis showed a hotel designed to serve conventioneers and meeting-goers would make financial sense for the property at 200 S. Lamar St., a couple blocks from the Jackson Convention Complex. He emphasized the bargain price of $6.4 million Hertz paid Parkway Properties for City Centre and its 518-space garage make a conversion to hotel even more attractive.
The 266,700 square foot City Centre underwent a renovation in 1987. It includes two lobbies with a marble finish and an atrium with black granite and mahogany panels.
Further prompting Hertz’ hotel plans is a belief the City of Jackson and the JRA are unlikely to get a convention hotel project going anytime soon. At this point, Ingram said in the recent interview, his company is not concerned about “anything coming out of the ground.”
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