After years in the making, Farish Street is on her way to being renovated into an entertainment district that many hope will rival Beale Street in Memphis. The city announced last week that Wet Willy's, a daiquiri bar; Funny Bone, a comedy club; and The King Biscuit Café, a blues club are opening in the Farish district.
"We recruited businesses that we knew had done well on Beale Street and that met the criteria," said Cato T. Walker, Performa Senior vice president of development. The city is working with Memphis-based Performa Entertainment Real Estate, which is credited with much of the success of the Beale Street. Performa has leased a stretch of buildings from the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, and are recruited these businesses to Jackson.
Walker says that the success of Farish Street, while not solely dependent on the convention center, will be enhanced if the referendum passed this week (this issue went to press before the returns came in). "We feel the whole district will be a success; we would not have started this project if we did not—but especially if the convention center referendum is passed," he said.
The construction for this project will start in 2006 and will cost over $1 million, according to John Elkington, CEO of Performa. The city estimates that the first half of the project, which spans from Amite to Griffith Streets, will create 325 full- and part-time jobs. The next part of construction will be complete by 2007 and will create another 325 jobs.
"It is economic development, too. It will help improve property value in that area, create jobs and increase the tax base," Walker said.
John Lawrence of Jackson Downtown Partners, said the Farish developments are very exciting. "It will create a real destination as opposed to going to a restaurant and getting in your car and leaving—you can park and walk to three or four different places. The entertainment district will do well and with the convention center, there will be an added level of customers," Lawrence said. Jackson Downtown Partners helped with research for the area, conducting studies on the success of the entertainment district.
In addition to the Farish street entertainment, the Mississippi College Law school plans to expand further into the downtown area. The law school is building a Student Conference Center in that area next year.
Wet Willie's will be located at 230 Farish St., Funny Bone comedy Club at 232-234 Farish St., and King Biscuit Café will be at 212 Farish St.