JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Abandoned buildings and blighted properties contribute to the poor health of any neighborhood. That's what has happened to communities in south Jackson surrounding the old Jackson Square shopping center at Terry Road and Interstate 55. But that's changing with the help of a California- based developer and a determined property manager.
Zayre department store was just one of the businesses that drew shoppers to Jackson Square shopping center decades ago. There was also a movie theater and other popular places to spend money. But business eventually moved out and crime moved in. It had gotten so bad, the city considered demolition until California-based developer Jessie Wright purchased the 34-acre property in February.
Wright said, "They were gonna demo it, but the structure is solid. We talked to the city, the highest and best use is exactly what we have."
After meeting with residents, Jackson police officials and business leaders in July, Wright began pumping his own money into transforming the center from a crumbling eyesore to a place that businesses and people, hopefully, will want to come back to. There is fresh paint, pavement and landscaping on what is now called Jackson Square Outlet Mall.com.
Property manager Kevin Johnson said, ""We've pretty much committed to restoring south Jackson and doing our part to restoring the Capitol City."
Johnson continued, "It all 100-percent won't be an outlet mall, but a good portion of it will be, but we're dedicated to bringing a grocery store over here. We're also dedicated to bringing a skating rink over here."
Johnson says he's pushing for the grand opening of the Jackson Square Outlet Mall.com at least by mid next year. He says the key to success is security and he makes it clear there is plenty of it, not only for the mall but the surrounding community.
"So, our security typically every single night we have two guards here at night and we have a patrol service which patrols the neighborhoods, too. Now, and this is not through any kind of funding from other neighborhoods including Alta Woods. They're not paying us anything, we're just doing it." he said.
Johnson is not just talking the talk. He says he moved here from Pearl.
He said, "When I moved to south Jackson, what I found and of course, I mean, when I first came out here I was a little afraid, you know, but what I found is that I have less problems in south Jackson than what I had in Pearl."
Johnson said, "I'm willing to go about and say we're going to do it. It will be done. We are going to create a viable place for shop. We are going to create a viable neighborhood. We are gonna promote public safety and we're gonna turn this around. We're gonna take back our neighborhood's and we're not gonna rest until we do it."
Wright's firm also owns shopping center in Southhaven and Birmingham, Alabama. The center will be mixed use and Johnson says he's already hearing from potential tenants. Three On Your Side would like to help you take back your neighborhood. And, if you've already turned your community around, we want to know how you did it. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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