I'll Go to Flowood, I Swear | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

I'll Go to Flowood, I Swear

Developer Ted Duckworth, the man behind numerous development projects in Jackson including the 308 Electric Building, said the city is thwarting his efforts to move forward with a project he has planned for the city's old library, at 301 North State Street.

Duckworth has been working with the city for months to secure funding and legal authority to turn the old building into high-end apartments and condominiums, but he complains that the city hasn't signed off on documentation allowing him to take advantage of the building's historical designation, to defray about $1.7 million in construction costs.

"Time is money. We put in a request before our contract expired in January. What's today's date—the 19th of March? I'm not blaming the administration, but I don't know who dropped the ball. I don't do business like this. … Y'all are always talking about the same issues over and over again. I like to deal with the issue and move on. … I've put in a request, and that's why I'm here, because I wasn't getting any response," Duckworth told the council.

Chief Administration Officer Robert Walker told the council that he believed the deal should have an April 5 "kill date," and explained that "other parties are interested in the building."

Duckworth said that he could "go out to Flowood" and do a similar project for "half the money."

"This is complicated, time-consuming work," he said. "So after all this time, I'm hearing the city telling me 'Hey, we've got some other people who're interested?' I've been working on this thing a long time. I've got a personal attachment to this project. Nobody else wanted this project, but now that I've got all this almost done, somebody else wants it. … If y'all want me to go do business somewhere else, then just tell me."

Developer David Watkins, who led the effort to renovate the King Edward Hotel, has accused the Melton administration of causing numerous delays in that project, nearly scuttling it more than once.

Duckworth said that the other interested party is a non-profit, while his project would return the building to the city's tax rolls. Non-profits and government offices are non-taxable and take up about 40 percent of the city's property rolls.

Walker assured both the council and Duckworth that just because another party was interested in the building did not mean that the administration "was not interested in continuing forward" with Duckworth, and that the administration did not want to portray the image of "kicking (Duckworth) out of the way."

"It's only fair to you to let you know that there is somebody else who is interested in the building," Walker said. "We haven't committed to anyone at all."

Allen said he favored Duckworth Realty working with the renovation, and lamented that the city seemed to have failed him. "The disconnect here is that we don't have a planning department. There should be a director right here ready to give you an answer, Mr. Duckworth. You shouldn't be getting your answers from city legal, you shouldn't be getting your answers from Mr. Walker. You need it from the planning department."

Allen and the council vowed to call a special meeting to address the issue if it proved necessary.

Previous Comments

ID
67568
Comment

You NJam'ers digging this as Melton's team takes to one of your guys? Come to the light boys! Councilman Allen is right. Duckworth should be able to talk to Planning. But, Jimmy Hiedel is a consultant and Melton's leadership ran off the other good employees. I'd say when we read Carl Allen left last month that was the end of the Planning Department!

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-03-21T21:04:58-06:00
ID
67569
Comment

Don't you worry about a thing Pike. Bracy and Melvin will fix everything.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-03-21T22:12:13-06:00
ID
67570
Comment

This is terrible! Ted Duckworth is a valuable asset to the City of Jackson and we certainly do not need to lose him to Flowood. I am hoping Walker's quotes above were just not well thought out. Who cares if someone else is interested? What did Walker mean when he said the City was committed to no one. If you let a developer spend time and money trying to return property to the tax roll and create a great living space with actual downtown citizens, then you should be treating him just as nicely as you know how! You should never indicate the lack of committment on the City's part. Good Grief! Shades of Melton advising Deuce against his possible partners. People willing to invest wisely here are precious and we need to bend over backwards to help them. Gad! This Administration is rapidly passing the disaster stage. Whats that they say: Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way!

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2007-03-22T15:33:23-06:00
ID
67571
Comment

Duckworth has been working with the city for months to secure funding and legal authority to turn the old building into high-end apartments and condominiums, but he complains that the city hasn’t signed off on documentation allowing him to take advantage of the building’s historical designation, to defray about $1.7 million in construction costs. Chief Administration Officer Robert Walker told the council that he believed the deal should have an April 5 “kill date,” and explained that “other parties are interested in the building.” It is just like KEH deja-vue'. Maybe it is a TX billionaire non-profit! I guess Walker is now Melton's Kermit the Frog.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-03-22T19:44:30-06:00
ID
67572
Comment

just like Northpark.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-03-22T21:10:38-06:00
ID
67573
Comment

Unbelievable. Is Mr. Melton's administration trying to kill downtown Jackson?

Author
tombarnes
Date
2007-03-22T22:09:03-06:00
ID
67574
Comment

They are in over their heads and have no clue. None whatsoever.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-03-22T22:13:13-06:00
ID
67575
Comment

Kingfish, I agree wholeheartedly, but almost everyone has some training in plain old-fashioned good manners and survival. To spurn a proven investor with no commital comments is rude and non-productive. BTW, are we going to get to see Council Meetings on Channel 18 anymore? Since there is seemingly no specific time to meet will there be specific TV viewing times for the most recent Council Meetings? Getting them off TV was a goal of Melton's at one point. Has he suceeded?

Author
ChrisCavanaugh
Date
2007-03-23T06:43:56-06:00
ID
67576
Comment

Like I said, folks: Lord of the Flies. I'm telling you, don't waste your time looking for deeper meaning in all this. They're just that damn incompetent.

Author
laughter
Date
2007-03-27T11:58:26-06:00
ID
67577
Comment

Eh, no one cares in Jackson enough to vote them out.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2007-03-27T12:44:32-06:00
ID
67578
Comment

The incompetent will not vote out the incompetent...

Author
colby
Date
2007-03-27T13:01:05-06:00
ID
67579
Comment

Actually, you make a good point colby. Though I wouldn't use the word "incompetent" as much as I would "disenfranchised." In Kaze's "Rob'in Hood" column some blog points were made about the staying power of Kenny Stokes due to the relationship he has with the people in his Ward. How the people in his Ward will continue to re-elect him despite the truth that his Ward is getting worst not better under his watch. Well, if Kenny started trying to revitalize his Ward by attracting new businesses and good housing, then he risks bringing in enough people to vote him out of office. If he keeps his Ward marginalized then he can keep his power. That doesn't make you a good politician despite what some my say. Seems cowardly to me to "disenfranchise" a group of people that voted you in office to (hopefully) make their part of the City better.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-03-27T13:19:58-06:00
ID
67580
Comment

Law talkin' guy: I'm telling you, don't waste your time looking for deeper meaning in all this. They're just that damn incompetent. Philip: I definitely appreciate your point, Law, especally for sake of Occam's Razor. On the other hand, my life's experience tells me that it's rarely as simple as incompetence. Granted, those who do say it's more than incompetence but rather good 'ole boy (and girl) politics / backscratching / corruption at play DO HAVE the burden of proof. Even so, hunches and instincts can be quite useful, even if there is no solid evidence to back up hunches yet. In this case, I say "scrutinize every action of the government parties responsible for the Duckworth project paperwork and approval VERY THROUGHLY" (which is what committed citizens should be doing with EVERY government and private enterprise action anyway, but that's already an agreed-upon principle. My point: If certain actions by otherwise marginally competent people/groups thereof doesn't make any sense - then INVESTIGATE THOROUGHLY!

Author
Philip
Date
2007-03-27T16:01:07-06:00

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