Jackson is seeking bids to demolish two dilapidated structures near the Convention Center
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Two eyesores near the Jackson Convention Complex may soon fall.
The city is announcing bids to demolish structures at 220 and 226 Pascagoula St.
The two brick buildings are located west of the convention center.
Their shattered windows, burglar bars, and crumbling roofs contrast sharply with the convention center complex, which features large bay windows, sharp edges, and modern design.
“We’ve been working on this one for two years,” said Jordan Hillman, director of planning and development. “We built the enclosure last year. These are larger projects, compared to the demolition of a single house. So we have to somehow balance the residential demolition needs with the larger projects. »
The city began announcing the deals on July 14. Sealed bids must be presented to the City Clerk’s office on August 22. Hillman hopes to have the building demolished by the end of the year.
The news is already being welcomed by at least one councilman, who has long expressed support for the demolition of the structures.
“Hopefully they will get some offers because these things need to be taken down,” Council Chairman Ashby Foote said.
Next, he said the city should now fix the convention center parking lot to make it more welcoming to visitors.
The parking lot is located on Pascagoula just in front of the center. The approximately 8-acre site is characterized by uneven concrete slabs and gravel patches with parking barriers scattered here and there.
Indeed, the parking lot is made up of a number of individual properties purchased by the city and the Jackson Redevelopment Authority years ago in preparation for the construction of a convention center hotel.
Jackson bought the land with a $7 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and planned to pay off the debt from revenue generated from the new development.
However, the plans never materialized, and early in Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s administration, HUD called on the city to begin paying down the debt.
“We continue to work with HUD and on the challenges associated with the Section 108 loan and have reached positive agreements,” Hillman said. “I hope that by spring we will be able to approach a developer again to develop a hotel and a parking lot.”
Proponents of the idea say the hotel is needed to generate more business at the convention center.
Due to lack of revenue, the center had to seek additional funding from the city. In February, the city council approved the transfer of $500,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funding to the center to help address a shortfall of about half a million dollars.
Convention center general manager Mark Arancibia told WLBT that one way to increase business there is to repave and repair the center’s parking lot.
“I’ve probably had three or four multi-day night events that I’ve been to and spoken to who want to come here, but the parking lot…At the end of the day there are 7,000 spaces in downtown Jackson that can be used on weekends with parking, but they feel like they are far away because they can’t see them.
Foote echoed Arancibia’s concerns, saying the current parking situation is undermining the work of the convention center and Visit Jackson.
“It’s a terrible first impression people who come to visit the convention center have when we don’t have first-class parking,” Foote said. “We’re undermining the efforts of agencies like Visit Jackson and the convention center trying to get people to Jackson while we’ve broken concrete so people can park.”
The state allocated $1 million to redo the parking lot as part of the 2022 legislative session. However, Governor Tate Reeves issued an individual veto, cutting the funding.
Even if the money had been available, Hillman said it wouldn’t have been as simple as just paving the area.
“When you take out a [Section] 108 Loan, it is contracted for a specific purpose. This one was for job creation. We have to repay the loan, but we have to keep our promises,” she said. “Surface parking does not create jobs.
Hillman, however, said the city is now working with HUD and its technical assistance team to modify its loan requirements so a parking lot can be built. She said even with plans to start advertising for a hotel developer, repaving is still necessary.
“We’re going to want to make a hotel and structure parking lot to accommodate the parking lot, but the rest of the property is still available and probably needs to be [repaved] until it is refurbished.
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