It's being called a landmark decision for downtown Jackson: resort status for several restaurants and bars in the Capital City.
The Jackson City Council paved the way by submitting applications to the Department of Revenue earlier this week.
Almost a dozen businesses -- including Hal & Mal's, Jaco's Tacos, One Block East and Ole Tavern -- will be granted resort status if approved by DOR within the next 90 days.
Councilman De'Keither Stamps calls the move a renaissance for the whole downtown area.
"This is a market that's not tapped to the degree it should be," Stamps said.
The economics seem simple enough: give more options for several bars and restaurants in the downtown area through resort status and it will draw more people there.
It's already been proven at a few staples in Jackson, like F. Jones Corner on Farish Street.
Stamps said the city council agreed to allowing the option for resort status one business at a time, to give the council greater control.
"Now those business owners are held accountable because -- if they lose that -- they're not going to be able to compete inside of the city with the other businesses around them because they won't have the same abilities," Stamps said.
Some critics say the resort status -- where bars can stay open 24 hours and don't have to report food sales to the Alcohol Beverage Control -- could stifle development on Farish Street.
Business owner John Tierre disagrees with that because he took a chance on Farish Street months ago.
"The energy is here and people are paying attention now. You have talks about finishing up the project on the first two blocks now and investors coming to town. They're looking at the area. I see 'em every day," Tierre said.
His bar and restaurant, Johnny T's, is one of several expected to get resort status.
Stamps said once these businesses start making more money, it'll pave the way for more to want to join, even if legal and political red tape may have held parts of downtown back before.
"When you start money flowing, mysteriously all these legal problems get out of the way so that a free market can emerge," Stamps said.
Stamps said they're hoping to draw out the college crowd with this decision.
He added that the city council hopes to move forward with adjusting JATRAN routes to go by Jackson's colleges -- and come through the resort district -- all night long to keep inebriated drivers off the roads.
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