When Jackson Mall started a spiral downward, it was assumed that this was the way of all malls, to flourish a while and then die. But because of a chance remark over lunch one day 17 years ago, Jackson Mall, now Jackson Medical Mall, is successful beyond all dreams, and a model that other cities want to imitate.
In 1995, Jackson Mall was a shell. Here is an aerial shot showing empty parking lots back then. Compare that to today.
One of the surviving businesses in Jackson Mall in 1995 was Piccadilly Cafeteria. Dr. Aaron Shirley was having lunch with Judge Rubin Anderson at Piccadilly back then, and was lamenting the tight quarters his Jackson-Hinds Health Care Center was having to deal with. And just looked around at the big empty mall and daydreamed.
"It went something like, Rubin you know we are struggling at Jackson-Hinds trying to find space. And we have all this sitting here. Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a way to use some of this space? That's the way it started," said Shirley.
Now, this is the way it has ended. With the mall 100% occupied. The retail mall across the street 100% occupied. New business popping up around the mall to serve the people working there and living in the neighborhood. And with the mall foundation buying up dilapidated business and homes in the neighborhood and cleaning lots and removing unsightly buildings to make more room for developers. Primus Wheeler is the executive director of Jackson Medical Mall, and says the goal is to carry the success of the mall to the neighborhood.
"I don't think the mall would have enjoyed the success it has if it had not number one, embraced the community, and number two, showed the community that it was going to take the same prosperity that's inside the fence out to the community," said Wheeler.
And the best may yet to be, with a proposed medical corridor starting at UMC on the east and going to Hawkins Field on the west, with the Medical Mall in the middle.
Dr. David Powe of UMC explains.
"The whole center point is the Jackson Medical Mall. It's sort of, it's the anchor. It's what is creating the energy for development all throughout this corridor here."
It could have been a black hole of dilapidation, sucking that whole area of Jackson down into it. Instead, it's a rising sun with lots of development orbiting it. A true medical miracle. The resuscitation of not only a mall, but a whole area of town.
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