JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Nearly two hundred apartment units and a parking garage for the Jackson Convention Complex could become a reality in the next year once funding for the $56 million venture is secured, the new owner of downtown Jackson’s Landmark Center said Tuesday.
Hickman Johnson, the executive director of Mississippi Regional Housing Authority No. VI, showed 3 On Your Side plans for each floor of the seven-story building that sits at Capitol and Lamar streets.
“The Landmark building has been vacant for the last eight years or more. My staff put together this binder of failed projects over the past eight years. And these were projects proposed by local government, by the private sector, by the public sector, but nothing succeeded,” Johnson said.
The building wasn’t completely vacant during that period, however.
Lawyers with Richard Schwartz & Associates rented some space in the building until last February’s ice storm caused a pipe to burst for several days, flooding most of the floors.
A spokesperson for the law firm confirmed they moved out of the building a few months after the damage. That damage also led the previous owner to give the building to the housing authority, Johnson said.
He believes they will succeed where others have failed, in part, because he said a regional housing authority can do more than a private developer.
“We try to change the face of affordable housing as an agency that does not have to look at the bottom line,” Johnson said. “We can do a lot more than those who are constrained by profit.”
The agency’s plan consists of four floors of residential apartments — studios, one-bedrooms, and a smaller number of two-bedrooms — and retail on the ground floor, including a specialty grocery store.
The top two floors will be reserved for prime office space.
Johnson said a portion of the 184 apartments will be subsidized, but most will have fair market rates.
In the future, he said they plan to construct a much-needed parking garage on property on Pearl Street across from the Landmark Center once they purchase that property, which will serve both the Landmark and Jackson Convention Complex.
“This is an economic boom for this city, and especially for capitalists. So I would hope that most would embrace what we do realize that, contrary to some of the some suggestions of others, this is an opportunity to build communities rather than destroy communities,” Johnson said.
Johnson pointed to other properties he had overseen since serving as executive director, including more than a dozen townhouses in Tchula and a one-hundred unit building in Jackson on the site of the old Terry Road La Quinta Inn.
He said they’re still in the process of securing funding for the $56 million endeavor, which could come from bonds, low-income housing tax credits and other sources.
The use of those housing tax credits for downtown Jackson properties is not uncommon.
The Landmark’s previous developer had planned to seek LIHTC funding for senior apartments inside the building as well.
In addition, HRI Properties utilized housing tax credits from the state and LIHTC funds to help bankroll construction of the Capitol Art Lofts several years ago.
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