"JRA Cuts Ties to Farish Street Group" by Jackblog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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JRA Cuts Ties to Farish Street Group

Well, that seemed easier than expected.

The Jackson Redevelopment Authority on Sept. 25 canceled, by unanimous vote, the contract of Farish Street Group LLC, the real-estate management company charged with luring businesses to the building on Farish Street.

In a move that Mayor Chokwe Lumumba called "long overdue," JRA chose to break ties with the group and its primary investor, developer David Watkins.

"Unfortunately, it just didn't work out and it was time for a change," Lumumba said. "Hopefully, some of the people who were involved with the previous group will be able to remain involved, but I just don't think they will be able to do what was originally planned. Either way, it didn't make sense for the city to be held hostage by one long-term contract."

Farish Street Group LLC hoped to have B.B. King's Blues Club open on the street by the end of 2012. Once architects finalized designs for the club, though, engineers discovered that not only could the current structure not support the capacity load, it doesn't even have a foundation.

Lumumba had called for the group to be kicked to the curb since December 2012.

Comments

Belvedere 4 years, 11 months ago

The problem now on Farish Street is that the buildings are not properly braced, weathered in, and closed. Falling roof beams are putting pressure on the brick walls which are consequently eroding. The interiors are exposed to the elements. Here's a mild example of what's happening down there now, but exemplary in it shows all the problems of non-closure. Photo, Farish Street Inteior

If we don't act now to save them, there's not going to be any renovation or development.

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Belvedere 4 years, 11 months ago

And I might add, these buildings were allowed to decay while public funding (the taxes we pay) were sought to bring ownership and profits from the failed enterprise into private hands. This isn't urban development. I'll call it audacious public duplicity and greedy overreaching while ignoring the effects of their incompetent delay.

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bthennington1 4 years, 11 months ago

I am glad that the JRA cut ties with/fired Watkins Development, but anxious to see if the project is taken over by another developer. The question is: Will the JRA make the same mistake a THIRD time? This development could truly be the token to the resurgence of downtown Jackson. It is a shame that the JRA could not hold Watkins development to a higher standard. We can only hope that a developer takes over the project and makes Farish Street what it could, and should, be.

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msnative1943 4 years, 11 months ago

I am amazed at how people can speak with authority, out of sheer ignorance.

Watkins has put $4.7M of his own money in Farish and controls over $5M in tax credits. Neither the JRA nor the City have not put in one dime. That's right. With all the talk by politicians, all the finger pointing and demands for "audits", the only thing that ought to be audited is the motivation and intelligence of JRA members and their lawyers.

There is now a $5M lien on the property. If engineers had not found a $1.8M flaw in the BB King foundation last June that he inherited from the JRA, 7 clubs/restaurants would be open now, generating jobs, opportunities and taxes. Even the JRA "brains" admit that most of the problems and delays with Farish have NOT been Watkins, but would have happened to ANY developer doing this project. The political interference and posturing is ludicrous and does not bode well for the future of this city. What is long overdue, respectfully, Mr. Mayor, is accountability from JRA board and staff. THOSE are the guys that out to be booted.

Watkins has proven himself to this city time and time again and is now being treated like a leper. What a great message to send to prospective developers that might want to invest in Jackson. If the JRA and City don't own up to the facts and have a reality check, Farish Street is doomed forever. And that's a damn shame.

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