Residents of the Fondren neighborhood in Jackson were assured at a March 16 neighborhood meeting that a proposed $60 million development at the former Meadowbrook Mart would not worsen drainage in the area.
“One of our biggest concerns is the impact this will have on flooding,” Fondren resident Adam Strong told Gabriel Prado, CEO and president of PraCon Global Investment Group.
Eubanks Creek flows behind houses on Choctaw Road in Fondren and overflows when rains produce flash floods. Residents were concerned that the proposed development at 3153 Meadowbrook Road that PraCon hopes to build could worsen the flooding.
Plans call for the building that once housed the McRae Department Store and another building that houses Advance America Cash Advance to be demolished and replaced with a four-story building that would include 215 lofts, a swimming pool, fitness center and two courtyards.
Jordan Hillman, director of planning and development for the city of Jackson, attended the meeting. She said one of the first questions she asked about the development was about drainage.
Because the property is already pretty much covered in concrete, there shouldn’t be much of a change in drainage, she said.
PraCon, which owns the Woodland Hills Mall and the Fondren Post Office, does not plan to raise the development like the nearby CVS, Prado said, and will do everything in its power to improve drainage.
Prado said at the meeting that he believed he could improve the neighborhood while making a profit as a business. “Be the change you want to be,” he said of his business philosophy.
Choctaw Road resident Bill Wilson has spoken out against a proposed dog park for the development. He feared that it would serve as a place for people who don’t have a house to erect tents.
Wilson asked where the resort’s dumpsters would be located and that they would not be emptied early in the morning as was the case when McRae’s was in operation because of the noise it creates.
Scott M. Crawford, who lives on Choctaw Road, asked for information on what the fence around the complex would look like. A site plan was distributed at the meeting, but no architectural rendering of the development was shown.
The fence would be metal and like that at The Quarter House apartments in Jackson, Prado said.
The complex, which will cut off access from Choctaw Road to Meadowbrook Road, is designed to attract young professionals and would not be low-income housing, Prado said.
The next stage of development is rezoning.
DMG Real Estate Holdings 319 Meadowbrook LLC has applied to rezon the general commercial district C-3 and the single-family residential district R-1 to the pedestrian-oriented mixed commercial district CMU-1 for the property located at 3153 Meadowbrook Road.
The City of Jackson planning board was scheduled to hear the application on March 23. The planning board will make a recommendation on the rezoning, which may be appealed. If there is no appeal, the Jackson City Council will then consider the planning board’s recommendation.
If there is no objection, City Council will hear the recommendation in April.
In a Feb. 3 letter sent to landowners within 160 feet of the site, affected neighborhood associations and members of city council advising them of the rezoning request, Prado wrote, “We believe this proposed development will be the anchor needed to stimulate redevelopment in North Fondren that will have a positive social impact in the neighborhood.
If all goes well, ground could be broken as early as September, Prado said. Construction would take 12 to 18 months, he said.
In 2015, a project was announced between the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Baton Rouge-based data company Venyu Solutions to turn the property into a hub for the hospital’s telehealth program, but the project fell through. failed.
David Pharr and Jason Watkins, who developed the $15 million entertainment destination in Fondren which includes the Capri Theatre, Highball Lanes and The Pearl, have been hired to redevelop the former McRae department store at Meadowbrook Mart into a hub for UMMC’s telehealth program and successfully secured various incentives, but the deal fell through after the relevant business was sold and the buyer did not proceed with the project.
McRae’s at Meadowbrook Mart is still fondly remembered by many Jackson residents as the city’s first full-service department store in the suburbs and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The two-story store built on the site in 1962 was Meadowbrook Mart’s flagship store until its closure in 2005.