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A 17-acre development, along U.S. 51, will encompass government, the arts, town homes, condominiums, shops and restaurants. The plan for the project was unveiled Wednesday. Artist renderings courtesy of Greenstone Properties, Atlanta, Georgia

‘Madison at Main’ will become the city center

Construction at 17-acre development to commence in 2020

By JACK WEATHERLY

Madison is seemingly the Mississippi city that has just about everything one could want for “the good life.”

Yet it has been dreaming and planning for decades for an element that it lacks.

Mayor Mary Hawkins was on the cover of the Mississippi Business Journal in 1987 talking about the dangers of “unregulated growth” that could befall the farming town of about 7,000 as metro Jackson expanded.

In the intervening years, Madison, whose population is now more than 25,000, has built a reputation for striving to be an ideal community under the guidance of Hawkins Butler, who is widely known for her dedication and determination in making Madison a special place.

Architectural detail is the hallmark of the city’s commercial buildings. A CVS pharmacy in Madison, for example, does not look like a CVS pharmacy anywhere else.

Even the corporate-limit signs of the community reflect a difference. “Madison the City,” they proclaim, to distinguish it from Madison County.

The city has won a number of awards. Its median household income of $103,000 is more than twice the state median.

But the city that began as a stop on the Natchez Trace in the early 19th century and later on the Illinois Central Railroad has needed something it didn’t have.

A center.

That will be Madison at Main, a 17-acre development that will encompass government, the arts, town homes, condominiums, shops and restaurants. The plan for the project was unveiled Wednesday.

The first phase will be built this year and in 2021.

It is an example of “new urbanism,” which provides a “walkable,” cohesive community within a community.

The city is partnering with Greenstone Properties of Atlanta. The 17-acre development will be located in the heart of the city at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 51, extending south to Madison Avenue.

 

For years, Madison has worked toward creating our town square that will be the heartbeat of our city,” Hawkins Butler said in a news release.

Now, it’s our time to create a beautiful, walkable downtown,” Hawkins Butler said.

This will be Madison’s crown jewel.”

The old Madison-Ridgeland High School that now houses the city’s arts center, and the old gymnasium, both of which are designated historic landmarks, will be preserved in new ways.

Madison at Main will also feature a boutique hotel and a specialty food market alongside considerable office space. To accommodate residents and visitors to the development, Madison will get its first parking garage, a multi-level facility.

The gymnasium of the old school, which now can hold 360, will be transformed into a 1,000-seat performing arts theater. The old high school will become Madison’s city hall during the project’s first phase in 2020 and 2021.

 

 

The buildings that housed the former Madison Station Elementary on the site will soon be razed to clear the way for the development.

For more than 40 years, the city has set its sights on developing its town square to show the thriving economic opportunities available in this once small farming community, she said.

Chris Schoen, the managing principal of Greenstone Properties, said in the release: “We want Madison at Main to complement the city’s award winning tradition. Our goal is for our neighbors in Madison to approve of what we’re doing and be excited to enjoy the tasteful enhancements.”

The city of Madison and its Madison Square Redevelopment Authority selected the Greenstone team.

Wakefield Beasley and Associates of Alpharetta, Ga., a design firm, completed the initial master plan and will be the lead architect for the project.

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About Jack Weatherly