Special report: the Farish Street redevelopment struggle - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Special report: the Farish Street redevelopment struggle

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Farish Street once stood as the central-business district for Jackson’s African-American community; it thrived primarily between the 1950’s and 60’s.

On the Fourth of July, the sounds of Dexter Allen and his band filled the air at F. Jones Corner. In the 1930’s it was known as Frank Jones Corner Filling Station. Part owner, Daniel Dillon says his business has come a long way since it first opened six years ago.  

“For the first two years we were down here, Farish Street was closed," said Dillon. "It was actually a fence that was constructed to block people from at least driving down the street. So my people had to look, they had to find ways to get here.”

Dillon’s business is nestled in the heart of the historic district. He says when the opportunity came for him to expand his family’s legacy, he had to take advantage.

"Initially we were told that there would be no way that we would acquire this property," explained Dillon. "And if we acquired it there was no way we would be able to make it work, we were going to have constant trouble with crime."

However, Dillon says all of those stigmas were wrong.

Although his business is thriving, the area around it is not. There are boarded up buildings and vacant lots. Plans to revitalize the district have faced obstacles since the project started in 1997.

Dorothy Davis is President of Farish Street ministries, a group trying to get the area back to where it use to be.  However, Davis says they have not had the city’s support.

"We've asked them to allow us to have the buildings for a year, give us at least 10 of the buildings let us have them for a year, if we cannot get it back on the tax roll in a year then we will give it back to the city," Davis explained.

Most of our questions to the city surrounding redevelopment of Farish Street went unanswered because of litigation.
In September of 2014, the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development sanctioned the city, Jackson Redevelopment Association and Farish Street Group headed by developer David Watkins.

Federal authorities ordered the city to pay 1.5 million dollars.

Despite Farish street’s past, development has picked back up and people have regained interest in buying property. Johnny T's Bistro and Blues is set to open later this month.

"This building has so much it's built in," said  Johnny T's Bistro and Blues owner John Tierre. "I didn't do it. But I'm going to package it and present it to the world.” 

Tierre is excited to open up a business in this district, mainly because of its heritage.

"Artists as Red Fox, Sammy Davis Junior, Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, all played in this very building, so what we are doing here is preserving that history," explained Tierre.

His restaurant will rve modern cuisine and showcase local live blues talent. We asked him if he was worried about the development’s progress.

"I'm kind of a show by example kind of guy," said Tierre. "I'm already eying other properties down here. If they don't come I'll be here." se.

That is the same mentality shared by F. Jones owner, Daniel Dillon.

He’s working on investing more property on Farish Street. He hopes others will join in.

"You know we're proof that people will come to Farish street if you give them something to come to," said Dillon.


We reached out to the city of Jackson about current plans for Farish Street redevelopment.

The city of Jackson released this statement:

"The redevelopment of Farish Street and the establishment of a downtown entertainment district remain priorities for the administration. Going forward, we will be reaching out to the community to get their input on redevelopment. The interest private developers have shown in Farish Street is a testament to the area's potential."

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