Wish for Continued Downtown Growth in 2014 | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Wish for Continued Downtown Growth in 2014

Sidewalks, busy sidewalks. Right now, Jackson-area neighborhoods are dressed in holiday styles and benefitting from foot traffic generated by the holiday shopping season. We won't know how well the retail industry — in Jackson or nationwide — fared until after Christmas. Judging by how the holiday spirit seems to grow, particularly in places like Fondren, each year, we're hopeful that the stockings of local businesses are stuffed with cash.

As JFP Publisher Todd Stauffer noted in November, when we moved our offices to downtown's Capitol Towers, Fondren was in excellent hands, "teeming with local restaurants, retailers, artists and service providers," and growing.

Our hope is that Fondren provides the blueprint for similar growth, especially in downtown. The view from our new 13th-floor perch offers a rebuke to the idea that Jackson is standing still.

Right now, on a warm December day, people are doing business at the Hinds County Circuit Courthouse and City Hall. Presumably, those people could use a bite to eat and even might have a few more presents to buy before the holiday.

Downtown is leaving 2013 with a bang with a number of exciting new restaurants with opening of Tom Ramsey's La Finestra and the reopening of the Iron Horse Grill. Fischer Gallery moved into the Dickie's Building, and even the ACLU relocated to Capitol Street downtown.

If the University of Mississippi Medical has its way, the long-vacant Landmark Center at 175 East Capitol will be home to as many as 300 UMMC employees sometime next year. Our building, the Capitol Towers, has also attracted several new tenants just in the months that we've been here, and more are likely on the way. And we hear rumors about exciting developments in the Plaza Building on Congress Street, among others.

Ongoing renovations of Capitol Street and the development of a Westin Hotel are also positives, and a glimmer of hope remains that a Convention Center Hotel deal is reached, and that the Farish Street mess gets cleaned up next year as well.

Of course, downtown won't transform overnight or even over the course of the next year. Urban-planning expert Mukesh Kumar has pointed out both the opportunities and challenges for downtown.

Downtown Jackson is not Manhattan or even New Orleans' Central Business District — nor will it be for the foreseeable future, and we're not even sure we want it to be—but from where we sit, downtown is in motion. If downtown is moving, that means Jackson is moving forward, too.

To keep that motion going, Jackson's downtown businesses need our help to have a very happy, and profitable, holiday season. If you want a vibrant downtown, do your part to make it happen—day and night. Come visit often in 2014.

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