Jackson Planning Board approves rezoning request for $65 million Fondren development

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 5:34 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Developers have cleared a major hurdle in their efforts to bring a roughly $65 million development to Fondren.

Wednesday, the Jackson Planning Board unanimously approved a request to rezone nine parcels along Mitchell Avenue and Oxford Street and grant a use permit for those properties and another one on North State Street.

The planning board’s decision now must be ratified by the Jackson City Council.

If the decision is not appealed, it will go before the council at its August zoning meeting.

Co-developer Jason Watkins said the rezoning was needed to bring the properties in line with other parcels in the development’s footprint.

“Right now, there are three different zoning classifications with all the properties involved,” he said. “By having just one zoning classification, we’ll just have one set of rules to go by.”

Properties include three in the 500 block of Mitchell and six in the 3000 block of Oxford. One parcel, located at 3009 N. State, was not rezoned.

Currently, parcels along Oxford are zoned R-4, for multi-family residential, while the parcels along Mitchell are zoned UV, for urban village.

Urban village is a form of a mixed-use district, which combines “residential uses and complementary commercial uses within a relatively small area,” according to city code.

Homes on those properties are either owned or under contract by the developers. Some are currently vacant, while others are still being leased by tenants, Watkins said.

If the planning board’s decision is upheld by the council, those properties would be reclassified as Urban Town Center, which would clear the way for developers to tear down those facilities and build a mixed-use development in their place.

Watkins said that development would include approximately 200 high-end apartments, a 500-car parking garage, and possibly some retail and restaurant space.

For its part, the parking garage would not only serve the development but the entire Fondren Business Improvement District, which, for years, has struggled with having adequate parking for visitors.

“It’s certainly welcome for anybody in Fondren to use,” he said.

The garage is expected to cost around $15 million and is being funded by a $20 million state allocation set aside during the 2022 legislative session.

“We anticipate it to cost $15 million. We’re authorized up to $20 million, but we don’t think it will be that expensive,” Watkins said. Additional funds would be used to cover cost overruns or expand the garage if needed, Watkins told WLBT previously.

Rebecca Garrison, executive director of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation, said the parking garage “will certainly ease our parking woes in the business district.”

“There’s no doubt that traffic has increased with the opening of The Capri and Highball Lanes, and the need for more parking is a natural result of a thriving business district,” she said.

Developers were still working with the state to determine when funding would be made available. He hopes to begin work on the project in the fall. The money will go through Hinds County.

“Materials are a question mark right now, but we think once we start construction, we can complete it in nine months to a year,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was not known when construction on the new apartments would get underway. He said architects are now determining where the apartments would be located on the site.

The apartments will cost between $40 million and $55 million to construct and will be built by a third party on property owned by Watkins.

He said it was too early to release the name of that developer.

However, he said the apartments would be a good product, on par with units found at the District Lofts, The Quarter House, and the Meridian.

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