Construction on $150M Jackson tech district slated to begin next year
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Construction is slated to begin next year on the first phase of a $150 million tech district planned near downtown Jackson.
“We are targeting a ground-breaking and have gotten permission for the first building- the headquarters, for next year,” said Dr. Nashlie Sephus. “We hope to break ground on the Innovation Station by the middle of next year.”
The headquarters and Innovation Station are just two features of the first phase of the mixed-use JXN Tech District.
The project, which will stretch along Gallatin Street, will include residential and retail space, as well as a grocery store and event center.
The first phase will include Bean Path’s headquarters and makers’ space; the Innovation Station, a 40,000-square-foot facility for entrepreneurs to learn and teach technology and lease space; and the Bean Barn, a 17,000-square-foot event center.
The Bean Path is a nonprofit dedicated to providing technical advice and guidance to individuals and small businesses in the Jackson area, as well as STEM training to students, its website states.
The group recently celebrated its three-year anniversary.
“So, we... have a mission to stop the brain drain in Mississippi. People who are educated, whether that’s through a boot camp, or through a college or university or community college, in tech fields... often find better opportunities outside of the state. But with something like the tech district... we can build those opportunities right here in the city and expand across the entire state,” Sephus said previously.
Work on Sephus’ $150 million brainchild can finally move forward, thanks to a recent vote by the Jackson City Council to rezone the Bean Path property into a planned unit development, or PUD.
Monday, the council voted unanimously to rezone the property, which previously was zoned for light industrial and commercial uses.
“That allows us to do all of the different things we’re doing – the housing, the retail, the lab space, the event center, the things we’re doing with the Bean Path,” Sephus said.
PUDs permit a mix of uses that would normally not be allowed on the same site.
“We’re doing a traffic study. We’re wrapping up surveys. We’re getting a structural team on board... all of that has to be done before we can break ground,” Sephus said.
Sephus said Bean Path is working with SOL Engineering Services and JBHM Architecture and has “a shortlist of general contractors” that it hopes to work with on construction.
The entire build-out will take three to five years.
The first phase will include the Bean Path headquarters, which will be in the Oliver Van Horn building. The 6,400-square-foot facility will house not only Bean Path offices but a makers’ space to help budding entrepreneurs.
“We’re ordering wood-cutting equipment, laser cutters, 3D printing machines, CNC machines for cutting through things... enabling people to make whatever they want to make,” Sephus said.
For a membership fee, individuals will be able to access the equipment and will learn how to use it.
The second phase will include the Innovation Station. The station will be in an old downtown storage facility at the corner of Amite and Gallatin streets. The two-story building will be a place for business owners and individuals to learn and teach technology skills. It also will have space that can be leased out to start-ups and larger corporations.
“It will have a food hall and a conference and training center. We have several partners interested in... being part of that,” Sephus said.
Sephus is most excited about the third building, the Bean Barn.
The 17,000-square-foot space is “one of my favorite buildings” and will feature space that can be rented out for everything from weddings to robotics tournaments, Sephus said.
The project is being funded through various sources. The Bean Path building, for instance, is being paid for, in part, with funds from the Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Amazon, Airbnb, Entergy Mississippi, and others.
Sephus has also invested more than a million dollars of her own money into the project.
“The Bean Path does not own the whole tech district, but is a component of it,” she said.
Sephus said developers also will be applying for New Market Tax Credits and tax-increment financing bonds.
The district also has received a $250,000 grant from the city of Jackson, which leaders provided out of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation.
For more information on the project or the nonprofit, log onto jxntechdistrict.com, or visit thebeanpath.org.
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