"Watkins Asks For Another Shot at Farish" by Jackblog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS


Watkins Asks For Another Shot at Farish

Jackson developer David Watkins is apparently not satisfied with losing control over the Farish Street renovation project, and is asking the Jackson Redevelopment Authority Board to reconsider their decision of two weeks ago to cut ties with the Farish Street Group, of which Watkins is the chief investor and developer.

You can read Watkins' letter to JRA Chairman Ronnie Crudup http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/documents/2013/oct/09/david_watkins_jra_letter/">here.

This is the press release we just received from Watkins Development LLC:

---------------------Begin Press Release---------------------

The developer of the Farish Street entertainment district, Watkins Development LLC, has requested that the Jackson Redevelopment Authority (J.R.A.) reconsider their recent decision to cancel the leases and parcels in that area, where Watkins has spent millions of dollars on the historic urban renewal project. In a 10 page letter to the J.R.A., copied to the bulk of City government, Watkins legal counsel, Lance Stevens of Jackson, presents a lengthy historical account of the company’s accomplishments and unforeseen obstacles on the project, as well as the financial fallout which would accompany the developer’s ouster.

That letter is attached.

“We are encouraged by the new vision that Mayor Lumumba has brought to Jackson and feel certain that he will demand reconsideration of J.R.A.’s acts when our company is finally allowed to make a public or private presentation,” says David Watkins, the managing partner of Watkins Development.

The letter to J.R.A. references the fact that the leases were cancelled without consultation with Watkins’ group and without any presence at the meeting.

“The J.R.A. appears to be putting our fine city at risk–risk of destroying Farish Street’s hopes and risk of massive legal exposure–with their uninformed decision-making. They must be receiving no credible legal advice whatsoever,” says Watkins’ legal counsel, Lance Stevens. The letter to J.R.A. documents the $4.7 million that Watkins himself has invested in the property, while noting that the City and J.R.A., in particular, have not invested any money, despite scuttlebutt that City funds have been squandered.

“J.R.A. committed over $10 million in financing to the project and has utterly failed to contribute a nickel,” says Stevens. “The good news, however, is that with a timely reversal of their decision, the $5 million in tax credits can be salvaged, a protracted legal battle can be avoided and Farish Street can become our center for entertainment and local entrepreneurship."

The letter to J.R.A. documents that over $5 million in tax credits would be lost if Watkins Development is removed altogether from the project (as well as another $4 million in tax rebates), “dooming” the project, according to their counsel.


msnative1943 5 years, 6 months ago

This letter from Watkins' lawyer is mandatory reading. No wonder Watkins has been unable to finish the project!!

Even the Clarion Liar seems to understand there's something fishy about the JRA shenanigans.



donnaladd 5 years, 6 months ago

You're not Watkins' lawyer, are you, msnative? Just checking ... ;-)


msnative1943 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure, but I think I've been insulted. A lawyer! No, I'm not a lawyer, just a retired financial analyst. I'm one of those seniors that wants to see Jackson prosperous again. I like coming to Jackson every now and then, especially going to the King Edward (it's a lot nicer now than I remember it as a young man in the '50s). I guess that's why I like Watkins, since he's the one that did it.

I really want to see Farish Street succeed. The city and the state need the jobs and the money. It's that simple. Do the math.

Thanks for asking, Donna, but please don't call me a lawyer again!


donnaladd 5 years, 6 months ago

Haha, just seemed like the question to ask. ;-)


Belvedere 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, give him another shot. I'm impressed by what he did for the King Edward. I'm not a big fan of huge water projects downtown as the centerpiece of urban planning and design and I think the unoccupied buildings down there need to be properly closed to prevent further ruin, but, sure, David Watkins is a mainstay among developers with a proven record and his heart in the city. Jackson needs his expertise.

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