Details Still Scant on Convention Center Deal | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Details Still Scant on Convention Center Deal


Ward 6 Councilman says Jacksonians must be courageous enough to get their heads out of the sand and fix the city's problems.

Read TCI-MS's PowerPoint presentation (PDF, 146 KB)
Read the city's statement (JPG, 800 KB)

During a closed session last night, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. submitted an executive summary showing how the city wants to help finance the Capital City Center development.

The city released a statement outlining the non-binding agreement with TCI-MS, the limited liability company Mark Small, president of the Dallas-based MJS Realty, formed in 2006 to acquire the $1.5 million property from the Jackson Redevelopment Authority. The Jackson Free Press has submitted an open records request to obtain the executive summary.

The proposed $200 million development would consist of two hotels, residential, retail and office space. The current plan entails a 19-story Crowne Plaza Hotel with 300 guest rooms, a 175-room Staybridge Suites Hotel, a 1,500-car garage, skywalks linking the hotels with the convention complex, a 200-unit "luxury" apartment building and a 150-unit independent senior living complex, on four blocks on Pascagoula Street.

The statement highlights components of financing the project. The city is proposing to help finance the project with urban renewal bonds, but did not specify a dollar amount. TCI-MS has agreed to pay $10.3 million as a fee for the city's participation in the bonds.

Through an open-records request last month, the Jackson Free Press acquired a PowerPoint presentation Small presented to the Jackson Redevelopment Authority on Sept. 22, 2009. The presentation outlines a proposal for public financing for the development that includes $64,735,000 in Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds, $17,370,000 in Tax Increment Financing, $3 million in Community Development Block Grants and $16,184,000 in equity.

TCI-MS has acquired the $3 million in CBDG grants through the Mississippi Development Authority for sewer, water and street infrastructure for the hotel, according to the city's new statement.

The outline of the agreement also entails a plan that will include hiring minority contractors and employees for the project.

The hotel construction could start in 16 months, meaning that the hotel would open in the first quarter of 2012.

Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber said today that he supported the decision to hold the meeting in executive session.

"I think it was wise to go into executive session, so that certain hopes and fears weren't raised," he said. "It could be premature, and the wrong assumptions could be made about (the agreement) if it was released at this point."

Yarber said he was unaware that TCI-MS had not paid more than $100,000 in county property taxes that were due Feb. 1, according to the county's website, but said he supports the city's agreement.

"I support the city taking some stake in the investment and the project itself, considering the fact that we are in tough economic times," he said. "... If this project had been done seven or eight years ago I would have said no. ... But there is a still a push by the investors and stakeholders to get this project done. A lot of folks are able to get anything moving in cities, and the fact that we are, I think it's a good thing we can do right now."

Read Tuesday's story about the complicated history of the developers and the tax delinquency.

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